Needs Statement for Website:
Utah Students At Risk

Public schools are responding to a range of federal and state mandates. Most of the mandates require educators to progressively modify instructional practices based on a series of objective measures of student outcomes. Outcomes include: (a) normative and domain-referenced measures of achievement, (b) dropout data, (c) referrals for special education services, and (d) indicators of student alienation.

Many of the state and federal mandates carry "high-stakes" consequences for students, teachers, administrators, and school boards. Examples of consequences include: (a) removal of present "social promotion" and high school diploma options for students, (b) increased community visibility of student outcome data linked to individual districts, buildings, grade levels and teachers, (c) promotional and salary consequences for teachers and administrators based on student outcome data, (d) state management of "consistently low-performing" districts, (e) federal and state agency actions against districts, and (f) civil actions in federal court, by parents, against districts.

A common theme runs through most of the federal and state "accountability" mandates: The laws require that the needs of students at risk of failure be addressed in a systematic and effective manner and that the data from the mandated measures of student outcomes be used in the design, implementation, and evaluation of changes to the instructional programs of individuals and groups.

In Utah, with the implementation of House Bill 177, Assessing, Reporting, and Evaluating Student Performance," on July 1, 2000, public educators placed a high priority on compliance with this state law. The state law (H.B. 177) requires educators to incorporate such federal mandates as Title 1, Section 504, and IDEA 97 into instructional planning. Instructional design efforts include designing, implementing, evaluating and progressively improving instructional programs at the individual student level, classroom level, building level, and district and state levels.

Utah legislators have adapted the content for H.B. 177 from other states. To understand Utah and federal requirements, the rich staff development resources, nationwide, on the Internet, have considerable relevance and practical value. Web visitors will also use Web resources from other state offices of education. Staff development Web resources from California, Texas, and New York, as well as Utah, are presently included in course content.