Steve Pope, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the Utah House voted Friday in favor of a significantly retooled bill creating a review committee for statewide educational standards.
HB342, sponsored by Rep. Dana Layton, R-Orem, calls for a 17-member committee appointed by the speaker of the House, the Senate president and chairman of the State School Board to review and recommend changes to the academic benchmarks established for public schools in Utah.
Layton's original bill effectively mandated that Utah withdraw from the Common Core State Standards, a series of benchmarks voluntarily adopted by all but five states, but she said she was prompted to alter the bill after meeting with stakeholders.
"I modified the bill greatly and have tried to come up with a very nondisruptive way to do standards review," Layton said.
When asked how her bill improves upon the current process by which the State School Board adopts statewide standards, Layton said she could not speak to the specifics of current practice but believes there's no formal mechanism for involving parent feedback.
Utah's statewide education standards are routinely revised and updated in public meetings, and state education officials commonly hold informational open houses. But members of the State School Board have acknowledged those meetings are often sparsely attended.
Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton, also noted that while educational standards are set by the State School Board, curriculum decisions are made at the district level with significant parental input.
Layton said her bill would ensure that the feedback of parents goes into decisions regarding statewide standards.
"It’s a good first step to make the process more inclusive and formalize the process for including parent involvement and educator involvement too," she said.
The bill was approved in a 41-30 vote of the House. It will now go before the Senate for consideration.
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