EDUCATION Scenarios:
Choices for
the Future

The following scenarios were drafted by the Education Action Team to represent possible outcomes for education in 2050. The scenarios differed in level of investment, development of a long-range statewide plan, and commitment to proven, consistent, and high-impact strategies to help students succeed. The scenarios were presented to the public as part of the Your Utah, Your Future survey in spring 2015.

The scenarios were titled Allosaurus, Bonneville Trout, Seagull, Quaking Aspen, and Sego Lily (the state fossil, fish, bird, tree, and flower).

ALLOSAURUS SCENARIO

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By 2050, Utah falls further behind other states that lead in education. As Utah’s population increases, investment per student is comparatively low as Utah doesn’t continue to allocate funds to cover growth. We make no strategic changes to improve education. Parents and families do not become more involved in their children’s education. Because we lack regular review and improvement of our academic standards and do not improve our system of tracking progress, students most in need of assistance fall behind. The increasing cost of higher education (e.g., certificate programs, community colleges, and universities) and a shortage of loans and grants prevent many students, particularly lower-income students, from completing certificate or degree programs.

Overall, education is characterized by:

  • High student-to-teacher ratios.
  • Low teacher compensation, professional support, and development.
  • Limited investment in early childhood education, including all-day kindergarten.
  • Lack of capacity and resources in higher education to help students complete degree programs.
  • Percent of people graduating from high school and higher education declines slightly.
    • 80% of high school students graduate.
    • 43% of all Utahns have a post-secondary certificate or degree.

Utah does not produce the highly educated workforce needed to attract high-wage jobs and businesses. Average wages and tax revenues in Utah are relatively low, and the number of Utahns requiring social services and assistance increases.

 

BONNEVILLE TROUT SCENARIO

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Utah moderately increases investment in education. The state budget for education increases 3.4% per year until 2020. This does not require a tax increase because of projected growth for Utah’s economy and tax revenues. After 2020, funding keeps pace with student growth and inflation. We do not create a consistent, long-range plan or develop high-impact strategies for improvement. Because of intermittent interest in educational improvement, various programs are implemented sporadically and strategies for improvement are not coordinated, proven, or invested in over the long term. We switch from one set of standards to another, making it difficult to measure success over the long term and provide assistance to students who need it. Parents and families do not become more involved in their children’s education.

Overall, education is characterized by:

  • Slightly improved student-to-teacher ratios.
  • Moderate improvement in teacher compensation, training, and professional development.
  • Increased investment in early childhood education but not targeted to those most at risk.
  • Lack of collaboration between schools, community partners, and families.
  • Investment in technology without a strategic approach or adequate teacher training.
  • Slightly improved capacity and resources in higher education institutions to help students complete degree programs.
  • Percent of people graduating from high school and higher education is slightly higher than today.
    • 85% of high school students graduate.
    • 47% of all Utahns have a post-secondary certificate or degree.

In addition, tuition assistance and capacity of higher education institutions increase slightly, causing the number of students who complete certificate or degree programs to also grow. However, as the nation moves toward a more highly skilled, knowledge-based economy, Utah has difficulty providing the workforce needed by emerging and growing companies. Economic growth and jobs remain relatively strong, but the median wage and tax revenues in Utah increase only slightly. The number of Utahns requiring social services and assistance does not substantially decrease.

SEAGULL SCENARIO

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Utah moderately increases investment in education. The state budget for education increases 3.4% per year until 2020. This does not require a tax increase because of projected growth for Utah’s economy and tax revenues. After 2020, funding keeps pace with student growth and inflation. Though we are resourceful and responsible in using the investments and assets we have, we do not have enough to meet the needs of all students. Investments are targeted toward strategies that will have the highest impact and leveraged with private support from businesses, community partners, and parents. However, communities with fewer assets and resources are less able to meet their students’ needs. Strategies that are innovative and based on research and best practices are implemented in part; however, we cannot afford to properly scale programs to meet the needs of all of Utah’s students. Utah adheres to rigorous standards and tracks schools, districts, and classrooms that experience difficulty in improving educational achievement.

Overall, education is characterized by:

  • Slightly improved student-to-teacher ratios.
  • Moderate improvement in teacher compensation, training, and professional development.
  • Increased investment in early childhood education, targeted to those most at risk.
  • Collaboration between schools, community partners, and families.
  • Improved capacity and resources in higher education institutions to help students complete degree programs.
  • Percent of people graduating from high school and higher education is higher than today.
    • 87% of high school students graduate.
    • 53% of all Utahns have a post-secondary certificate or degree.

In addition, a slight increase in tuition assistance and capacity of higher education institutions causes the number of students who complete a certificate or degree program to also grow. Utah produces a better-trained workforce with improved employment opportunities. Some industries, however, still have to look outside of Utah to find all the highly skilled employees they need. Median wages and tax revenues in Utah increase somewhat, and the number of Utahns requiring social services and assistance also decreases slightly.

QUAKING ASPEN AND SEGO LILY SCENARIO

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Investment in education increases significantly and is consistent and stable. The state budget for education increases 5% per year until 2020. Although it is likely that projected growth for Utah’s economy and tax revenues could fund at least a 3.4% increase per year, and potentially all of this 5% increase, it may require reallocating money from other purposes in the state budget or an increase in taxes, at least in the short term until higher education levels increase incomes and therefore tax revenues. After 2020, funding keeps up with student growth and inflation. This money is targeted to specific, highly-leveraged strategies to improve performance. We adopt a long-range plan to improve the education and employment opportunities for all citizens and provide the funding and resources needed to achieve the plan. Utah education helps most students perform at grade level by continually reviewing and implementing rigorous standards and ongoing assessments of progress and by providing individual assistance to those at risk of falling behind. Parents and families are highly involved in their children’s education.

Overall, education is characterized by:

  • Improved student-to-teacher ratios.
  • Significant improvement in teacher compensation, training, and professional development.
  • Increased investment in high-quality early childhood education for at-risk students and voluntary all-day kindergarten.
  • Investment in targeted programs to improve reading and math skills.
  • Increased collaboration among schools, community partners, and families.
  • Investment in technology combined with a strategic approach and proper teacher training.
  • Improved capacity and resources in higher education institutions to help students complete degree programs.
  • Percent of people graduating from high school and higher education is substantially higher than today.
    • 90% of high school students graduate.
    • 66% of all Utahns have a post-secondary certificate or degree.

In addition, schools become community centers that provide other services to Utahns, including adult education, health services, and job skills training. Affordable tuition and increased resources of higher education institutions help more students enter into and complete certificate and degree programs. Because of its proactive and aggressive approach to providing quality education, Utah becomes one of the top ten states for academic performance. Utah’s workforce is highly educated and attracts high-quality jobs to the state. Median wages and tax revenue increase, and the number of Utahns requiring social services and assistance decreases substantially.

SCENARIO SUMMARY

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