James M. Jeffords Center releases report on Educational Opportuntities
Act 156 Working Group on Aligning Funding, Opportunities to Learn and Outcomes of the Educational System
- By Laurie T. Eddy
Vermont's Act 156 of 2012 designated a Working Group, with a mission to "review and evaluate how Vermont's current education system allocates financial and other resources in a way that promotes high quality, equitable educational opportunities for students throughout the state and how impediments to opportunity, such as poverty and substance abuse, may be mitigated."
The James M. Jeffords Center at UVM worked in consultation with the Educational Opportunties Working Group to provide answers to the fundamental questions posed by Act 156. The report is the result of testimony before the Working Group, and research done by staff of the James M. Jeffords Center and consultants at UVM. The report was presented to the Working Group, the Governor of Vermont and the Vermont Legislature by the Jeffords Center.
The full report is available on the James M. Jeffords Center website: www.uvm.edu/~jeffords
The answers to the questions raised by the Act can be summarized as follows:
Does Vermont’s current education system allocate financial and other resources in a way that promotes high quality, equitable opportunities for students throughout the state?
Available data from testimony to the Working Group, licensing and enrollment for early childhood learning programs, and a 2004 survey of students show that high quality opportunities to learn for students are not equitably distributed throughout the state. However, Vermont cannot allocate its resources in a way that effectively promotes educational opportunities because it currently does not have the data systems and procedures needed to measure those opportunities and allocations.
How can Vermont’s current education system allocate financial and other resources in a way that promotes high quality, equitable opportunities for students throughout the state?
Vermont needs to: (a) ensure that its ongoing educational data system development includes the collection of high quality data on resource allocation and educational opportunities at all levels. Data collection should begin with students and be aggregated to schools, districts and the state; (b) allocate sufficient resources to facilitate local data collection and to analyze the relationship between resource allocation and opportunities experienced by students; (c) integrate the findings of this report with results of ongoing data collection to guide and monitor the execution of the Strategic Plan of the Department of Education; (d) identify and implement the structural and procedural changes in school district organization needed for consistent and equitable application of state level policy in all Vermont’s schools; and, (e) make available to all children, regardless of their place of residence, the opportunities to learn that are needed for success in life and work.
How can impediments to opportunity, such as poverty and substance abuse, be mitigated?
The educational data systems currently in development, such as the Vermont Automated Data Reporting Project (VADR), need to be implemented and integrated with the information and delivery systems of other agencies, such as Human Services and Health through the Department of Information and Innovation. These linkages need to be used to implement new, coordinated policy and structural supports for integrated services.