- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The majority of Utah students are performing below grade level, according to results released Monday from the state’s new standardized test.

Data show 41.7 percent of Utah students tested proficient in English language arts on the first SAGE test, while 38.7 percent scored proficient in math and 43.7 percent demonstrated proficiency in science.

The results can’t be compared to past standardized tests, state officials say, on which far greater percentages of students showed proficiency in the subjects.

About half the questions are multiple choice, but the other half require students to reason through a problem without looking at potential solutions, Associate State Superintendent Judy Park told The Salt Lake Tribune (https://bit.ly/1wBZJ6Y ).

“It doesn’t mean the student is less capable,” Park said. “It means our expectations have changed.”

The SAGE test, which stands for Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence, was given this past spring during the previous school year.

Some teachers complained about the results being released so long after the test was given and after many schools have already done parent-teacher conferences.

Craig Pitts, a sixth-grade teacher at Jim Bridger Elementary in the Granite School District, said he might have altered his classroom plan before the year started if he had the results.

“It really is a joke coming out this late,” said Susan Veatch, a fifth-grade teacher at Hillside Elementary School in West Valley City.

When tests are given again later this year, teachers will have access to the scores right away, Park said.

School accountability reports based on SAGE data are set to be released in December.

The challenge ahead is for educators to assess the results and determine how they can better prepare students and their families the next time around, Stacy Kurtzhals, principal of Eastmont Middle School in Sandy, Utah, told the Tribune.

“How are we going to raise these scores?” she said. “That’s the important part.”

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Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, https://www.sltrib.com


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