Original post written by Shuktika Maheshwari

On June 23, 2015, Prosperity 2020 (P2020) began an ongoing series of “Business and Education Breakfast Forums” that seek to bring the state’s business, education and policy leaders together with the goal of moving Utah education to rank among the top 10 states in educational outcomes.

About Prosperity 2020 and Education First

The roots of Prosperity 2020 date back to 2011 when business leaders committed to a ten-year program to improve education outcomes in the state of Utah. A year later, business leaders called for improved accountability via implementation of statewide computer adaptive standardized testing. In 2012, thousands of signatures were gathered in support of improved education outcomes and Education First (E1) was launched. Working in tandem, Prosperity 2020 and Education First are business-led organizations committed to improving accountability, innovation and increased investment for education through public policy initiatives.

What P2020 and E1 Have Accomplished

This year, business leaders in collaboration with Governor Herbert and the Utah legislature, have increased state investment in education, with strategic investments aimed at improvement in reading, math and college completion, as proposed by the Prosperity Through Education five-year plan.

Business leaders will continue to build momentum to reach the 2020 goals, supporting the following strategies:

  • High-quality early childhood education,
  • Reading success
  • Strategic professional development and endorsements
  • Better use of education technology
  • Improved high school graduation rates
  • Expanded performance funding for higher education to drive college completion
  • Increased UCAT certifications

Success in Action

Gina Butters, Principal of Roy High School, presented a glimpse of the progress being made at the “Roy Cone” through the Prosperity 2020 initiative.  The Roy Cone is a network of 11 schools (five are Title I elementary schools), with more than 8,000 students in the Weber School District. The Roy Cone student demographic make-up is as follows: 25% are minorities, 32% are low income, 51% receive free and reduced lunch, 14% have disabilities, and 5% have limited English proficiency.

Prior to the Prosperity 2020 initiative, which began in January 2014, the Roy Cone reported a 71.6% average cohort graduation rate with 26% dropout rate and only 73% of 3rd graders were proficient in reading. Four of the elementary schools were without full-day kindergarten.

Prosperity 2020 has enabled education leaders in the Roy Cone to provide the following:

  • Full-day kindergarten
  • Reduce failure rates
  • Visit students’ homes
  • Perform truancy interventions
  • Provide College and Career Readiness counselors
  • Increase teacher accountability and development

As of June 2015, this has led to an increase in cohort graduation rate to 78%, 95% senior class graduation rate, 79% of 3rd graders have reading proficiency and there is 106% average growth in 3rd grade math proficiency.

The improvement of the Roy School District in such a short time bodes well for the strategy adopted by Prosperity 2020, as it provides concrete results. Sustained economic growth of the state depends on its ability to provide an educated workforce for businesses, and the Prosperity 2020 initiative is crucial in making that vision a reality.

More to Come

Join us for the following upcoming Business and Education Breakfast Forums:

  • August 2015 – Technology as a Tool
  • October 2015 – Education Policy for the 2016 Session
  • December, 2015 – On the Campaign Trail
  • February 2016 – Business Leaders on the Hill

Check out Photos From the Event 

View an interview with Alan Hall, Chairman of Prosperity2020, and Gina Butters, Principal of Roy High School.