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Ed Officials Seek AG's Opinion on Student Data Issue

The Utah State Office of Education is seeking the Attorney General’s opinion on what type of student data should be published. The board is asking the Attorney General to reconcile two state statutes they say cause the confusion. But not everyone believes a conflict exists.

Some argue classroom-level testing data allows the public to see how teachers perform. While others say the numbers could be read out of context. 

State School Superintendent Martel Menlove wrote a letter to Utah Attorney General John Swallow asking for his input. Menlove presented it to the state school board on Friday.

 “I don’t know where else to go with this," Menlove says. "We’ve had this discussion. We agreed previously that there is some confusion as to what we ought to be doing here. This is my best recommendation to you as to how to resolve this issue.”

Education officials are concerned that on one hand Utah law directs them to publish such data on school performance reports while another law stresses the confidential nature of student information and teacher evaluations.

Republican Senator Howard Stephenson doesn’t believe there is a conflict. He says the state office of education is refusing to comply with the existing law.

"I believe this is a stalling tactic to avoid being required to report the data this year, hoping that they can get the law repealed next year as they tried unsuccessfully to do this last session," Stephenson says.

Stephenson sponsored a bill this legislative session that would have made the average test scores of teachers’ students available online, but that bill did not pass. Another bill that did not pass this legislative session would have allowed only parents to access the data upon request.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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