Bill to eliminate civics test requirement passes committee unanimously – February 3, 2020

House Education Committee (reported by Jay Blain): HB141: Educator Salary Incentive Program Amendments allows the Utah State Board of Education flexibility in funding the Teacher Salary Supplement program if more teachers apply and are approved than is funded by legislative appropriation. It also allows for licensed clinical social workers to receive Educator Salary Adjustment monies if they have a DOPL or education license. The bill passed out of the committee unanimously and now goes to the full House.

HB152: Civic Education Testing Amendments eliminates the civics test required for high school graduation. Bill sponsor Rep. Elizabeth Weight said during her presentation that no other test is required for graduation and the test has no relation to the student’s knowledge of civics. The UEA supports this bill.

State Superintendent Sydney Dickson said the test doesn’t encourage any good instructional practice with no reflection and nothing to guide instruction. UEA Director of Research Jay Blain spoke in favor of the bill saying every civics, government and social studies teacher he has spoken with is in favor of this bill. Passing the test gives a false sense of any achievement of civics knowledge attainment and testing anxiety prevents many kids from demonstrating their true ability and knowledge, he said. The bill passed the committee unanimously and will now go to the full House.

HB205: Students with Disabilities Amendments would change the formula that funds students with disabilities in the minimum school program. Currently, there is a two-year lag in the count for the number of students for each LEA. The bill would make it a one-year lag. There is also a cap on the growth right now and the bill would remove the cap. It appeared that the committee liked the bill and wanted to pass it out but there were questions about getting it funded. There is a fiscal note of about $9 million. Rep. Steve Waldrip, who also sits on the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee, suggested the bill be held in committee until the sponsor could take the bill to the appropriations committee to present it there for funding. A motion to hold the bill passed unanimously.

Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee (reported by Jay Blain): The subcommittee continued to hear budget presentations: