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Reports Show Test Scores, Grad Rates, School Grades Improve Statewide

Larry Darling via Creative Commons

Three accountability reports released Tuesday show Utah schools are seeing higher test scores and graduation rates and getting better overall grades on school report cards. It’s the first year officials were able to compare student performance over consecutive years using the same tests.

Student’s scores improved in all areas of the end-of-year SAGE test including English, math and science. Utah Assessment Director Jo Ellen Shaeffer, says that translates to better outcomes for schools on all the three accountability reports released this week.

“I think that students are more immersed in the core,” Shaeffer says. “They’ve been taught in the core since 2011. Teachers are looking at new and innovative way of teaching kids. And the SAGE test itself being an adaptive test can give us a better picture of what kids actually know and can do.”

The Federal Accountability report, formerly UCASS, the governor’s PACE report and School Grading, all use data from SAGE scores plus some additional indicators to measure progress. The state now has data from SAGE tests from 2014 and 2015. Schools across the state this year earned more A’s and B’s on the school grading system.  Statewide graduation rates have gone from 81.4 percent to 83 percent.

Jenn Wall is the principal at Myton Elementary school in the Uinta Basin. The K-5 school made the leap from an F to a C in one year.

“The culture of our school has really changed and focused on what’s best for students and what students need instead of what’s best for me and my own classroom,” Wall says.

Wall says the school has an intervention program built into the classroom and students track their own progress and set goals. 

“Our teachers are part of a professional learning community,” Wall says. “And it’s not just limited to an hour meeting one day a week in the morning. Anytime they have breaks, they’re meeting and discussing how they can help these students improve even more.”

While Utah schools celebrate a wealth of gains across the board, this year’s reports also show ACT scores dropped about a half a percent.

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