Public education in Utah
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- 1 State agencies
- 2 Regional comparison
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Academic performance
- 5 Educational choice options
- 6 Education funding and expenditures
- 7 Organizations
- 8 Taxpayer-funded lobbying
- 9 Transparency
- 10 Studies and reports
- 11 School districts
- 12 Education ballot measures
- 13 Recent news
- 14 See also
- 15 External links
- 16 Additional reading
- 17 References
List of school districts in Utah
Public education in Utah
School board elections portal
The mission statement of the Utah State Board of Education reads:
|“||Utah’s Public Education System keeps its constitutional promise by:
The State Board of Education is responsible for the "general control and supervision of the public education system." The board is composed of 15 elected, voting members and six appointed, non-voting members.
Common Core, or the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is an American education initiative that outlines quantifiable benchmarks in English and mathematics at each grade level from kindergarten through high school. The Utah State Office of Education adopted the standards on August 8, 2010. Full implementation took place during the 2013-2014 academic year.
- See also: General comparison table for education statistics in the 50 states
- See also: Education spending per pupil in all 50 states
The following chart shows how Utah compares to three neighboring states with respect to number of students, schools, the number of teachers per pupil, and the number of administrators per pupil. Further comparisons between these states with respect to performance and financial information are given in other sections of this page.
|State||Schools||Districts||Students||Teachers||Teacher/pupil ratio||Administrator/pupil ratio||Per pupil spending|
| Sources: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD), "State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey", 2011-12 v.1a.|
National Center for Education Statistics, Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12
The following table displays the ethnic distribution of students in Utah as reported in the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core of Data for 2011-2012.
|Demographic information for Utah's K-12 public school system|
|Ethnicity||Students||State Percentage||United States Percentage**|
|Hawaiian Nat./Pacific Isl. students||9,024||1.51%||0.42%|
|Two or more||8,133||1.36%||2.54%|
|**Note: This is the percentage of all students in the United States that are reported to be of this ethnicity.|
Enrollments by region type
A majority of students in Utah attend suburban schools. More than 67 percent of the state's students attend city or suburban schools, compared to approximately 33 percent who attend rural or town schools.
|Student distribution by region type, 2011 - 2012 (as percents)|
|State||City schools||Suburban schools||Town schools||Rural schools|
|Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data (CCD)|
- See also: NAEP scores by state
The National Center for Education Statistics provides state-by-state data on student achievement levels in mathematics and reading in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Compared to three neighboring states (Arizona, Colorado, and Nevada), Utah has the second highest share of fourth and eighth grade students who scored at or above proficient in both math and reading.
|Percent of students scoring at or above proficient, 2012-2013|
|Math - Grade 4||Math - Grade 8||Reading - Grade 4||Reading - Grade 8|
|Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014|
|NAEP assessment data for all students 2012-2013|
Graduation, ACT and SAT scores
|Comparison table for graduation rates and test scores*|
|State||Graduation rate, 2012||Average ACT Composite, 2012||Average SAT Composite, 2013|
|Percent||Quintile ranking**||Score||Participation rate||Score||Participation rate|
| *Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Rate (except for Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma, which did not report “Regulatory Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate,” but instead used their own method of calculation).|
**Graduation rates for states in the first quintile ranked in the top 20 percent nationally. Similarly, graduation rates for states in the fifth quintile ranked in the bottom 20 percent nationally.
Source: United States Department of Education, ED Data Express
- See also: Public high school dropout rates by state for a full comparison of dropout rates by group in all states
The high school event dropout rate indicates the proportion of students who were enrolled at some time during the school year and were expected to be enrolled in grades 9–12 in the following school year but were not enrolled by October 1 of the following school year. Students who have graduated, transferred to another school, died, moved to another country, or who are out of school due to illness are not considered dropouts. The average public high school event dropout rate for the United States remained constant at 3.3 percent for both SY 2010–11 and SY 2011–12. The event dropout rate for Utah was lower than the national average at 1.5 percent in the 2010-2011 school year, and 1.5 percent in the 2011-2012 school year.
Educational choice options
- See also: School choice in Utah
School choice options in Utah include: charter schools, a school voucher program, inter-district and intra-district open enrollment policies and online learning programs. In addition, about 2.91 percent of school age children in the state attended private schools in the 2011-12 academic year, and an estimated 2.67 percent were homeschooled in 2012-13.
Education funding and expenditures
- See also: Utah state budget and finances
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), the state spent approximately 24.7 percent of its fiscal year 2012 budget on elementary and secondary education. As a share of the budget, this is up 1.50 percentage points, or 6.5 percent, from fiscal year 2008, when the state spent 23.2 percent of its budget on elementary and secondary education.
|Comparison of financial figures for school systems|
|State||Percent of budget (2012)||Per pupil spending (2011)||Revenue sources (2011)|
|Percent federal funds||Percent state funds||Percent local funds|
| Sources: NASBO, "State Expenditure Report," Table 8: Elementary and Secondary Education Expenditures As a Percent of Total Expenditures |
U.S. Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011,Governments Division Reports," issued May 2013
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system revenues in Utah totaled approximately $4.3 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including revenue sources, for Utah and surrounding states.
|Revenues by source, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Federal revenue||State revenue||Local revenue||Total revenue|
|Source: National Center for Education Statistics|
|Public school revenues by source, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school system expenditures in Utah totaled approximately $4.5 billion in fiscal year 2011. The table and chart below present further detail, including expenditure types, for Utah and surrounding states.
|Expenditures by type, FY 2011 (amounts in thousands)|
|Current expenditures**||Capital outlay||Other***||Total expenditures|
| **Funds spent operating local public schools and local education agencies, including such expenses as salaries for school personnel, student transportation, school books and materials, and energy costs, but excluding capital outlay, interest on school debt, payments to private schools, and payments to public charter schools.|
***Includes payments to state and local governments, payments to private schools, interest on school system indebtedness, and nonelementary-secondary expenditures, such as adult education and community services expenditures.
Source: National Center for Education Statistics
|Public school expenditures, FY 2011 (as percents)|
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average national salary for classroom teachers in public elementary and secondary schools has declined by 1.3 percent from the 1999-2000 school year to the 2012-2013 school year. During the same period in Utah, the average salary increased by 3.4 percent.
|Estimated average salaries for teachers (in constant dollars**)|
|**"Constant dollars based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, adjusted to a school-year basis. The CPI does not account for differences in inflation rates from state to state."|
In 2012 the Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now assessed the power and influence of state teacher unions in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Their rankings were based on 37 different variables in five broad areas, including: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence. Utah ranked 39th overall, or "weak," which was in the fourth of five tiers.
In 2006, some union members decided to depart from the Utah Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union, to develop the Utah Council of Educators. The council, however, is not a union and does not participate in collective bargaining. Both organizations are in favor of reducing class sizes and raising teacher salaries. The two organizations do, however, differ in their attitudes towards school vouchers. The Utah Education Association spent more than $3 million in the fight against vouchers in 2007. The Utah Council of Educators, on the other hand, said that they would rather let the public decide.
- See also: Utah government sector lobbying
The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Utah School Boards Association.
In 2008, the state legislature passed Senate Bill 38. The bill required state government agencies to make certain financial information available online. Utah Public Finance went live on May 15, 2009.
In 2009, the legislature passed Senate Bill 18, which mandated that local government agencies (including school districts and charter schools) be held to the transparency standards established by Senate Bill 38 (2008).
Both SB 38 and SB 18 were spearheaded by Sen. Wayne Niederhauser.
Studies and reports
Quality Counts 2014
- See also: Quality Counts 2014 Report
Education Week, a publication that reports on many education issues throughout the country, began using an evaluation system in 1997 to grade each state on various elements of education performance. This system, called Quality Counts, uses official data on performance from each state to generate a report card for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report card in 2014 uses six different categories:
- Chance for success
- K-12 achievement
- Standards, assessments and accountability
- The teaching profession
- School finance
- Transitions and Alignment
Each of these six categories had a number of other elements that received individual scores. Those scores were then averaged and used to determine the final score in each category. Every state received two types of scores for each of the six major categories: A numerical score out of 100 and a letter grade based on that score. Education Week used the score for the first category, "chance for success," as the value for ranking each state and the District of Columbia. The average grade received in the entire country was 77.3, or a C+ average. The country's highest average score was in the category of "standards, assessments and accountability" at 85.3, or a B average. The lowest average score was in "K-12 achievement", at 70.2, or a C- average.
Utah received a score of 79.1, or a C+ average in the "chance for success" category. This was above the national average. The state's highest score was in "transitions and alignment" at 89.3, or a B+ average. The lowest score was in "the teaching profession" at 64.5, or a D average. Utah had the highest score in the "transitions an alignment" category when compared to neighboring states. The chart below displays the scores of Utah and its surrounding states.
Note: Click on a column heading to sort the data.
|Public education report cards, 2014|
|State||Chance for success||K-12 achievement||Standards, assessments and accountability||The teaching profession||School finance||Transitions and Alignment|
|Utah||79.1 (C+)||69.1 (D+)||81.7 (B-)||64.5 (D)||65.2 (D)||89.3 (B+)|
|Arizona||70.2 (C-)||66.6 (D+)||87.6 (B+)||62.4 (D-)||66.8 (D+)||78.6 (C+)|
|Colorado||82.9 (B)||74.2 (C)||81.8 (B-)||66.4 (D)||68.6 (D+)||82.1 (B-)|
|Nevada||65.7 (D)||66.7 (D+)||75.4 (C)||71.0 (C-)||64.5 (D)||75.0 (C)|
|United States Average||77.3 (C+)||70.2 (C-)||85.3 (B)||72.5 (C)||75.5 (C)||81.1 (B-)|
| Source: Education Week, "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 18, 2015|
A full discussion of how these numbers were generated can be found here.
State Budget Solutions education study
State Budget Solutions examined national trends in education from 2009 to 2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates and average ACT scores. The study showed that the states that spent the most did not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor did they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. The full report can be accessed here.
- See also: School board elections portal
School districts in Utah are categorized by geographic boundaries. A municipal school district serves students in a particular city. A county school district operates schools within an entire county.
- See also: List of school districts in Utah
The following table displays the state's top 10 school districts by total student enrollment:
|1.) Alpine School District|
|2.) Davis School District|
|3.) Granite School District|
|4.) Jordan School District|
|5.) Canyons School District|
|6.) Weber School District|
|7.) Nebo School District|
|8.) Washington County School District|
|9.) Salt Lake City School District|
|10.) Cache School District|
School board composition
Utah school board members are generally elected by residents of the school district, although some school board members are appointed to fill vacancies until the next election for the seat is held. Utah school board elections are typically conducted by precinct or district, with voters selecting candidates within their board member district.
School boards consists of five or seven members, depending on the number of students in the district. Board members serve four-year terms, which are often staggered every two years.
Utah does not impose statewide term limits on school board members. However, terms limits on school board members can still be imposed on the local level.
No top enrollment districts in Utah are scheduled to hold elections in 2015.
Path to the ballot
- A citizen of the United States
- A resident of the school district for at least one year prior to the election
- A registered voter in the school district
Board members are also not allowed to be employees of the school district during their board terms.
Candidates submit declarations of candidacy and other supporting documents to the county elections office.
State law requires candidates to submit financial disclosure requirements to county elections officials before and after each election.
Education ballot measures
Ballotpedia has tracked the following statewide ballot measures relating to education.
- Utah Abolishment of Carbon College, Referendum A (1954)
- Utah Appointed Board of Education Amendment (2016)
- Utah Definition of Public School System, Proposition 6 (1996)
- Utah Initiative C (1988)
- Utah Investing in Stocks and Bonds, Amendment E (2008)
- Utah Public Ownership of Stock, Amendment 2 (2004)
- Utah Religious and Sectarian Instruction, Proposition 3 (1994)
- Utah School Fund Investment, Amendment 1 (2002)
- Utah School Vouchers, Referendum 1 (2007)
- Utah State School Fund Modifications, Proposition 2 (1994)
- Utah State School Fund Revenues, Proposition 5 (1996)
- Utah State to Guarantee School District Debt, Proposition 4 (1996)
- Utah Trust Lands, Proposition 3 (1998)
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Utah + Education "
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Utah state budget and finances
- Utah Department of Education
- List of school districts in Utah
- School choice in Utah
- Charter schools in Utah
- Education Policy in the U.S.
- Associated Press, "Utah schools receiving more money than expected," July 11, 2009
- KSL-TV, "New checks on school employees in place, but slow to take effect," July 15, 2009
- The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah welcomes Canyons School District," July 2, 2009
- National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
- ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
- United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD); Table 2.—Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011-12," accessed May 12, 2014
- United States Department of Education, "ED Data Express," accessed May 12, 2014
- Utah State Office of Education, "Home page," accessed June 5, 2014
- Utah State Office of Education, "Utah State Board of Education Mission," accessed June 5, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Utah State Board of Education, "Board Members," accessed June 5, 2014
- Common Core State Standards Initiative, "Core Standards in your State," accessed June 12, 2014
- Utah State Office of Education, "Utah Core Standards," accessed June 17, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Nonfiscal Public Elementary/Secondary Education Survey, 2011-2012," accessed May 7, 2014
- United States Department of Education, ED Data Express, "State Tables," accessed May 13, 2014
- ACT, "2012 ACT National and State Scores," accessed May 13, 2014
- Commonwealth Foundation, "SAT Scores by State 2013," October 10, 2013
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Common Core of Data (CCD), State Dropout and Graduation Rate Data File, School Year 2010-11, Provision Version 1a and School Year 2011-12, Preliminary Version 1a," accessed May 13, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2011-2013," accessed February 21, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009-2011," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditures Report, 2010-2012," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2009," accessed February 24, 2014
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "State Expenditure Report, 2008," accessed February 24, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary School Districts: School Year 2010–11," accessed May 13, 2014
- Maciver Institute, "REPORT: How much are teachers really paid?," accessed October 29, 2014
- United States Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 211.60. Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state: Selected years, 1969-70 through 2012-13," accessed May 13, 2014
- Thomas E Fordham Institute, " How Strong Are U.S. Teacher Unions? A State-By-State Comparison," October 29, 2012
- The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah school workers shun teachers union, seek Legislature's ear," January 7, 2008
- Utah State Legislature, "SB 38," accessed July 14, 2009
- Utah State Legislature, "SB 18," accessed July 14, 2009
- Education Week "Quality Counts 2014 report cards," accessed February 19, 2015
- Utah State Legislature, "Boards of education -- School board districts -- Creation -- Reapportionment.," accessed July 10, 2014
- National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed July 11, 2014
- Utah State Legislature, "Local boards of education -- Membership -- When elected -- Qualifications -- Avoiding conflicts of interest.," accessed July 9, 2014
- Salt Lake County Clerk, "Candidate Information Booklet," accessed July 9, 2014
State of Utah
Salt Lake City (capital)
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Treasurer | State Auditor | Superintendent of Public Instruction | Commissioner of Insurance | Commissioner of Agriculture and Food | Director of Natural Resources | Commissioner of Labor | Utah Chairman of Public Service Commission |