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New School Report Card Might Replace School Grades

Foxy1219 via Wikimedia Commons

Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s education advisor is working to replace Utah’s two school accountability systems with one easy-to-read, yearly report card. The newest school grading system received mostly negative responses when letter grades were first released last fall.

Utah’s school accountability systems use factors like end of year tests, student growth and graduation rates to show how schools are performing. School grading assigns letter grades A through F and the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System or UCAS grades schools based on a 600-point-scale.

Governor Herbert’s Education advisor Tami Pyfer is recommending a new report card that she says would simply display the information used to build both of those systems.

“I’m hoping that people will look at this and say wow, this is something I can understand,” Pyfer says. “I can look at last year’s graduation rate and this year’s graduation rate and say oh this makes sense we’re making progress. Oh yeah, this is an alternative school, this makes sense to me. I can see why their proficiency rate in this area might be low. That’s what I’m hoping the general public will see in this report card.”

Pyfer’s plan also includes introducing report cards for public colleges and universities.

Many school administrators say the first round of letter grades that came out last fall were not an accurate representation of their school and their student’s achievements. State lawmakers made a few tweaks to the system in the last legislative session, hoping to ease concerns.  

But Viewmont High School principal Dan Linford says it’s still not an ideal system. His school received an automatic “F” because they failed to get enough students to take an end of year test, but…

“In almost every category we’re an elite school, and that “F” just obviously doesn’t reflect that but I don’t think even an “A” would reflect that,” Linford says, “But I don’t think even an “A” would reflect that. I don’t think a “B” would reflect the things that we do across the board any better than that “F” to be honest.”

Pyfer says she’s received positive feedback from members of the education community and state lawmakers. She says she’s not sure if the new accountability system would require an all-in out repeal of the current systems or just revisions. 

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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