Performance Plus Plan Advances

Performance Plus Plan Advances

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The state Board of Education has approved a new draft of its Performance Plus plan for competency-based education.

The draft now goes to school leaders and should return to the board for final approval in August.

"If we go forward with the plan, we have a good basis ... to lobby for money to fund it," board vice chairwoman Janet Cannon said.

The board last year asked the Legislature for $202 million in new money for the former Performance Plus draft. Legislators balked.

The intent of Performance Plus is to gauge students' achievement on what they demonstrate they know, rather than how much time they've sat through class.

Schools would focus on reading, writing and math. Districts would have to redirect money to help children needing extra help in achieving basic skills, such as through tutoring.

In elementary grades, students would be expected to be at or near grade level in reading, writing and math by the time they go on to middle school. Schools must use research-based teaching techniques and stress phonics in reading.

Middle school students must earn 12 general education credits, a concept that currently applies only to high school students.

Students would earn credits by demonstrating competency. School boards would determine just how to measure that. But methods could include "C" grades or better or passing a state standardized test.

High school students would need 15 credits in language arts, science, social studies, physical education and health, education technology, applied technology education, fine arts, general financial literacy, and math in at least geometry or applied Math II. Local school boards would set the remaining nine credits.

Students in districts offering more than 24 credits would have to devote one-third of the additional credits in language arts, foreign language, math, science or social studies.

High school students also will have to pass the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test, which they can take up to five times beginning their sophomore year. That's already required, starting with the class of 2006, for students to receive a diploma.

The students also would have to show competency in effective oral communication; problem solving; accessing, analyzing and applying information; and using evidence to formulate and support conclusions. They also would have to demonstrate evidence of character, leadership, citizenship and learning through service.

The rules would be modified for students with disabilities and those learning English as a second language.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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