Breakthrough Digital Learning Legislation Introduced

The Digital Learning Alliance is excited to announce breakthrough Utah legislation that creates what is considered the most comprehensive statewide digital learning funding bill ever attempted.  This legislation, the Utah Digital Teaching and Learning Program (SB 222), encompasses all students, all teachers, all districts, and all vendors into a significant long-term statewide education re-engineering initiative.  This legislation is the result of a 18-month collaborative effort by Utah legislative and education leaders and national industry experts. 

Overview:  Utah Digital Teaching and Learning Program 

The Digital Learning Alliance, a non-profit focused on individual state legislative funding of statewide education technology, is excited to announce what DLA believes is the most aggressive and comprehensive statewide educational technology initiative ever attempted: the Utah Digital Teaching and Learning Program.

Why Utah?  Utah has a strong history of statewide education technology initiatives:

  • In the 1990s, Utah gained national recognition in digital learning as the first state to provide state funding for what are considered “leading-edge” education initiatives:
    • ETI, the Education Technology Initiative was the first state initiative with collaboration of the Governor, legislature and education to provide ongoing funding for implementation of statewide deployment of computers.
    • UEN, the Utah Education Network (now UETN, the Utah Education and Telehealth Network)  http://uetn.org/ was the first centralized management of funding and deployment of broadband to all Utah schools.  UETN is still considered the leader in statewide telecommunication management and advises multiple states. 
    • Utah Supercomputer Center became a national center for Utah higher ed advanced research through a Supercomputer Center and advanced workstation network to support all Utah colleges and universities. This initiative has helped Utah become one of the US’s top growth high tech and health sciences “silicon valley” models. The Univ. of Utah just surpassed MIT for the #1 ranking in “technology transfer” and start-up companies based on university research.
  • Recently, Utah has been the only state to receive an “A” rating over the last 2 years by Governor Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education.

Utah Digital Teaching and Learning Program History

In the 2014 Utah legislative session, legislation was introduced for statewide deployment of 1-to-1 technology to enhance all levels of teaching and learning. This legislation did not pass in 2014, but its 2015 version, the Utah Digital Teaching and Learning Program, has been extensively enhanced, and can serve as a model for all future statewide deployments of digital learning in interested states.  To support the preparation of this new 2015 legislation, the following actions have taken place over the last year:

  • The Utah Legislature formed the Legislative Education Taskforce which prepared a formal report prior to the 2015 session.
  • The Utah State Office of Education (USOE) and the Utah Technology Coordinators Council (TCC) prepared the Digital Learning/One-to World Framework to assist in the development of the 2015 Rebecca D. Lockhart Digital Teaching and Learning Program. 
  • Utah’s Superintendent of the Year, Terry Shoemaker, assisted this process by providing “real time” feedback, and continues the digital re-engineering of his district, Wasatch County School District.
  • Legislative leaders requested DLA’s assistance in providing research, policies, and best practices from national experts with successful statewide and LEA-wide deployment experience. DLA’s leadership team and advisors also have a strong history of successful statewide initiatives, both nationally and in Utah:
    • Past Utah ed tech successes (above):
      • ETI, Education Technology Initiative 
      • UETN, Utah Education and Telehealth Network
      • Utah Supercomputer Initiative
    • Development and national legislative outreach for DLA’s 17 unique digital learning legislative policy models (curriculum or technology based). These individual policies and DLA’s Best Practices” are the cornerstone for the Rebecca D. Lockhart Digital Teaching and Learning Program.
    • Inclusion of the District Digital Conversion Model (Scott Drossos) as a foundation of the Rebecca D. Lockhart Digital Teaching and Learning Program. This model is the framework for multiple successful district initiatives, including the Wasatch County School District initiative.

Utah Digital Teaching and Learning Program Key Components:

Key “critical success factors” for funding, implementation, and governance include:

  • Doubling Funding   $370 M of ongoing funding ($2 B by 2020) that allocates $600 per year for digital learning tools for each of Utah’s teachers and students. 
  • Total District Implementation Model  Grants available for all of Utah’s 41 LEA’s for “school-by-school” re-engineering that includes ALL categories of digital learning, e.g., content, software, professional development, broadband, devices, data, management, testing, measurements, etc.
    • “Outcomes-Based” Governance.  To ensure significant improvement in all teaching and student outcomes, districts and vendors will be measured on improved student performance or risk losing funding.
    • Collaborative Leadership. Long term planning and management to be governed by the legislature, Utah State Board of Ed, and LEA superintendents. The Utah Education and Telehealth Network (UETN) is designated to manage the ongoing initiative implementation.
    • No “Vendor Bills.” UETN will conduct a comprehensive RFP process to allow multivendor awards based on student outcomes and third party studies.

2015 Utah Digital Teaching and Learning Program

DLA Member Support for Utah Digital Teaching and Learning Program

  • •    Initiative Updates
    • UETN-Utah Education and Telehealth Network
      • Governance responsibility
      • Leadership team
      • RFP strategy and outreach
      • USOE-Utah State Office of Education (show website)
        • Leadership team
        • Project responsibilities and status
    • LEA Information
      • All LEA Staffing
      • Existing infrastructure
      • Annual funding opportunities
      • Grant input and status
    • Member “Technology Showcase” in Utah
      • Utah education “Demo Day”, April 2015
      • Individual state and LEA presentations
    • Member 3rd party evaluations and installation reference repository
    • RFP status updates
    • Meetings with state and LEA leaders

DLA National Support

  • DLA endorsement by Buzz Waterhouse, former CEO of McGraw-Hill Education
  • DLA Individual Policy Development and Outreach
    • Member-driven policies, research, and input
    • Economic development ROI modeling
    • Formal presentations to governors and legislative leaders
    • DLA Summer Conference for key state legislators to present DLA’s Digital Teaching and Learning model
    • Formal monthly outreach to Top 500 legislator base
  • National Market Intelligence
    • 50 States
    • Top 10 state initiatives
      • DTL legislation progress with key state education legislators
    • o    Key individual state funding and policy initiatives
      • DLA Policy Platform
        • 17 individual curriculum-based legislative initiatives
        • Track over 500 initiatives (weekly updates)
        • Formal state legislative tracking system with passage predictive analytics
    • o    Key state education committee leadership
      • Digital Teaching and Learning Program model
      • Individual DLA initiative funding

Former McGraw-Hill Education CEO and current Digital Learning Alliance Adviser, Buzz Waterhouse, discusses the impact of state-legislative-level initiatives to effect more effective digital learning solutions, better learning outcomes, and overall economic impact.


For access to updates and other late-breaking digital learning news for ed-tech companiescontact DLA President Dane Goodfellow at 435-714-0344 or dane@digitallearningalliance.org to learn more.