10 top-scoring schools in the state

Published: Tuesday, May 24 2011 4:13 p.m. MDT

#1 - Summit School — Smithfield, Cache County School District Next List » 10 of 10 « Prev
Average percent of students proficient on math and language arts state test scores in 2010: 94.31 percent

Total Pop: 427
Percent of students on free and reduced lunch: 42.35 percent

White: 327, Black: 0 Hispanic: 42, Asian/pacific islander: 9, Amer Ind/Alaskan: 0

Jack Robinson, principal at Summit School, attributes much of the students success to having all the teachers in each grade level meet almost weekly to discuss new proven teaching strategies and individual student’s needs. All the teachers in the same grade level also meet as a district once a month.

Summit has also scheduled math and language arts at the same time for all classes in the same grade so teachers can have the option of moving students back and forth between classes so certain skill-levels can work together and have more focused time on individual needs.
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Heber City, UT

Jack Robinson was in our ward in CA and was a wonderful Gospel Doctrine Teacher. He was a great administrator in the Redlands School district. I tried getting him to come work in my school district when he thought he might have to move back to California. He interviewed and decided he was going to stay in Utah and bring his family to Hyrum. Our district lost out on a fantastic administrator.

Mcallen, TX

@ Jack Robinson- "attributes much of the students success to having all the teachers in each grade level meet almost weekly to discuss new proven teaching strategies and individual students needs".

Teachers in low performing schools do the same thing. Switch schools with the teachers and you'll find the same results.

New proven teaching strategies?--Why does our country rank twenty fifth in world education and over half our population on the government dole?--Doesn't sound like an educated society with proven teaching stategies.

Cottonwood Heights, UT

Was anyone surprised at the % of kids on gov't lunch programs??

Mcallen, TX

@ benjoginko

You might find this quote from Hillary Clinton interesting:

"The village itself must act in place of the parents. It accepts those responsibilities in all our names through the authority we vest in government".

Government, then, assumes the role of parentage with a bevy of experts and unlimited use of time and funds.

Yes! Free breakfast and lunches.

Idaho Falls, ID

As a former Federal Programs Coordinator. Numbers are numbers. If you have a District with a high migrant or turnover of teachers or large class sizes....... EXPECT low scores. I was a Principal with a school of 175 students K - 6. Small community and very active in the education of their children. Ninety-six percent proficient or above proficient. Forty percent hispanic. What is the difference - Parents who were involved. Get the parents involved in the education of their children and you solve many of the concerns of low performing schools.
By the way, do you know how much $ is spent in your school or district on migrant and foreign speaking students? Check with your federal programs coordinator and you will be shocked at the money spent on a few of the students in your school or district.

Idaho Falls, ID

Also, free and reduced lunches are based on a federal scale. Since Utah is not a rich state, as in income, you will have a greater number of individuals who qualify for the program. Each parent should fill out the paper work regardless of whether you want to participate in the program or not, funds will come to your school to help hire new teachers or para-professionals in your school. Check it out, you will be helping your school out financially and your information is held very secure.
I would challenge every principal and PTA/PTO to get the information out to your parents. There is a lot of money available that your school qualifies for and does not receive because the parents don't fill out a simple form.

South Jordan, Utah

I commend the educators here, and I agree with worf, and yes, I, too, am surprised by the % of kids on gov't lunch programs as well. I also noticed the pattern sees to be (with the exception of Westview? in Provo) small schools with no more than 600 students and caucasian. Our school in Jordan School District has double that, with just under 1200 students, we still maintain well above State, District and national average scores because the bar is raised among faculty and parental involvement is very high. I am very proud to have my kids attend Jordan Ridge. I think there is a direct correlation between smaller class sizes and the student:teacher ratios. Unfortunately, our District continues to grow, budget continues to shrink and our teachers are buried with more demands from the State and District which gives them very little time to differentiate students' needs because they are handling classes of 28-35 kids. Somehow they manage in spite of it. I don't think they pay our teachers enough! I appreciate our teachers for being motivated by their genuine love of teaching! Thanks for posting this information-it is definitely interesting.

Ogden, UT

Worf: we only rank so low globally when you compare ALL of our kids (which is how we educate in our public K-12) to other countries' top echelon. Many that beat us in academics are dismissing their non-performers (at least academically) before even reaching the upper grade levels.

We really should look at this model. The academic one-size-fits-all is strangling growth in the U.S. We need to understand and allow for success outside of college, and then track those kids out so they can have a successful blue collar job by the time their counterparts are taking out loans for their sophomore year.

Tallahassee, FL

Interesting about the % of kids on gov't lunch programs. It would be interesting to see how many people who have children on the gov't lunch programs are also the same ones always complaining about taxes.

Florien Wineriter
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Congratulations to everyone involved in this study and report. Hopefully it will serve to inspire all schools, teachers, parents and students to impropve educational and social achievements.

Springville, UT

Only one charter school on the list. How do your vouchers look now?

liberal larry
salt lake City, utah

This is why it is so hard to evaluate school performance. It's great to see the test results, but..........what are the mitigating factors? Sure a couple of Provo schools made it into the list, but don't you expect the children of college students to do well on standardized tests? And what about the Cache County results, are they drawing on parents who teach or attend Utah State? Maybe you could get a group of professors from BYU, or the U, to look at the results and have them tell us what we are looking at.

Layton, UT

Congrats to Cache Valley. And to think... they're soooo close to Ogden, yet the differences are day and night.

Mr. Whim
Salt Lake City, Utah

...Northstar Elementary is not in Bluffdale, and is not a charter school. It's in Westpoint (which everyone thinks is part of Rose Park), and those racial numbers seem a fair bit off to me, to boot.

Old Scarecrow
Brigham City, UT

Looking at the bottom 10 as well as the Top 10: Frightening. Most of the schools on the bottom of the list, except for one from the Cedar City area, I think, were 50% to 90% non-white students, and 65% or more on free lunch programs that are an indicator of where the school is, economically. To see suburban or "east-side" schools with 90% white students doing well is great for them, and reflects favorably on the parents, teachers and principals at those schools, but the results are somewhat predictable.

The high-percentage non-white schools that are falling short portends disaster in the next 30+ years for not only those students, but their neighborhoods, communities and the state as a whole. These under-achieving kids won't disappear when they leave school, they are with us for the long haul regardless of what we wish were different.

The entire state ought to take these results as a challenge. We need to all be concerned about every school and every student in every corner of the state, and take little comfort if our own cozy neighborhood is okay for now.

Why can't we reach a little higher?

Mcallen, TX

Goet, I agree with your post. All people are good at something and our schools with its one size fits all mentality isn't getting the job done. I'd like to see more woodshop, homemaking, mechanical arts, machineshop, etc. It seems many of these classes have taken a back seat to test taking preparations for a select few subjects. Many of our students are bored with school because all they do is prepare for a test. Test scores are good for political football but does little for learning.

Dave Baker
Moab, Utah


There was 1 charter out of the top 10... there are about 50 charter elementary schools to about 500 non-charter public - seems reasonable to me. I'm willing to bet that, on average, charter schools are outscoring the state public schools.

Kaysville, UT

Often we hear that foreign nationals pay their way. After all they pay taxes. Those taxes (when actually paid) do not begin to pay for extra costs such as food at school and extra efforts to teach their children English. The children of foreign nationals struggle throughout their school years. The cost to the state is outstanding.

Provo, Utah

Top Schools? Bottom Schools? Those familiar with the schools on either list may notice the importance of the schools feeder population: stable and encouraging families, an involved parent population supportive of effective education, certainly good teachers (I have seen good teachers in both high and low achieving schools), facility with the English language, and other largely family based elements are in top schools; but not so much in bottom schools. If we must rank hierarchically, perhaps it ought to be by family criteria: Top families, bottom families. In any case, my hat is off to teachers and parents alike who persist in doing the very best they can in what is often appalling and frustrating circumstances. Heres a thought: rather than spending vast sums on studying and ranking, how about putting those funds toward helping (reducing class size, increasing teaching/learning time, and providing experiences that use a childs natural curiosity to experience hands-on learning).

Ogden, UT

What the heck??

Look at the perecentages of students on free/reduced lunches! Parents can afford soda, chips, cable tv, and junk treats for the house but can't afford lunch for the kids?

This has to stop! Govenment should not be giving away school lunches unless the family is certified not to have purchased anything frivolous!!!

Fruit Heights, Ut

It would be interesting to see how many of the children in the low performing schools were from single parent families. The type of family a child comes from is the single most important factor in a child's education. A single parent (often living below the poverty level) is so busy making ends meet there is little time to help a child with homework, volunteer in a child's classroom and in general support their child's education. If the parent doesn't care, the child won't either. Until parents, the state, and the Federal Government realize that it is the families that are broken and not the schools, nothing will change. Strengthen the family and you will strengthen the schools, the neighborhood, and society in general.

brookings, SD

So... they took a test, got a score, aggregated the scores, then rank ordered, and presto "Great schools.


My 2 Bits
Orem, UT

I think it would be interesting to follow some of these kids from some of these top schools and compare them socially to high performers from the lower schools throughout junior high. The one thing that is holding true to the schools in the top is that they are children from all the same circumstances.

To me, all these test scores are showing is the differences in society. My kids are top performers in an ethnically diverse school (and I should add it was our choice to go to the school, as our neighborhood school is in the top 10). The school's test scores are mixed, and generally follow the dynamics listed in this study (ESL/free lunch). However, the teachers do a fabulous job with the diversity of culture, family structure, and money. Some have, some don't. They have problems, don't get me wrong, but my kids are friends with all different kinds of kids that live in different size homes and come from several different countries. I like it. I certainly don't think that my children being friends with those that are struggling academically will hurt them. This whole test thing is silly.


It seems that all we care about is math and English. These skills are important, but they aren't the only ones that indicate a "smart" or "successful" individual. I think a better metric for a good school would be how many students are proficient in at least one area of study. Maybe if we celebrate the achievements of a child in one area, they will be more likely to succeed in others. Conversely, if all we focus on is how poorly our students are doing we will only create more failure. By the time these students get to secondary school they have already stopped trying and just become problem students.
Also, poverty isn't necessarily an indicator of poor performance. I was received free lunches, but I graduated from college summa cum laude. I think that the amount of encouragement, accountability, and stability (both physical and emotional) students have at home is what really makes the difference, not their parent's income, race, or education level.
Taking away government funding of schools would only create a stronger cast system where those born poor have no chance. America needs everyone, regardless of their parents' circumstances and choices.

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