10 lowest-scoring schools in the state

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

To create the elementary school ranking analysis, Deseret Digital Media (DDM), which manages the websites for KSL, Deseret News and Deseret Book, took the average percentage of students in each public school in Utah who scored above proficient on language arts and math and ranked them accordingly. These are the lowest-scoring schools with more than 250 students. A total of 617 elementary schools were analyzed. See the 10 top-scoring schools in the state. EMAIL: slenz@desnews.com, jferguson@desnews.com Twitter: @SaraLenz, @JoeyFerguson
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
South Jordan, UT

So, basically saying don't move to Ogden

Salt Lake City, UT

It's interesting to note the high percentage of Hispanic (English as a Second Language) students. I'm almost willing to bet the "top ranking" schools have very low if not zero percentage of Hispanic students. Our schools do a wonderful job with what they are allowed to have....

Wayne Rout
El Paso, TX

Ain't diversity wonderful? Liberals tell us, it is what makes us strong.

Provo, ut

Sucks to be in Ogden, and horrors, a charter school made the list. Looks like certain areas need to open the immigration gates for Asians, they tend to bump up the scores.

Thatcher, UT

Unity is what makes something strong, not diversity.

As someone pointed out, lower performing schools have a higher Hispanic population, but it isn't 100%.

There is a better indicator of low performance and that is the number of students who get free food.

Mchenry, IL

It's not diversity, it's poverty. Look at the reduced lunch rate. And how much lunch is given? Is is adequate? Are those students enrolled year round or are they away a good portion of the year?

Mcallen, TX

Poverty, reduced lunch, low test scores, low performing. What common denominator do these terms have?--"pre-marital _ _ _. We all pay for the actions of others.

Herriman, UT

And those who are criticizing the overall performance of schools tend to live in middle to upper income areas that are predominantly Caucasian. Take a look at Senator Stephenson,as an example. He lives in Draper and has a nice home and has a nice standard of living. I do not begrudge him anything that he has earned through his hard work and through his educational upbringing. What I fail to understand through all of his messages about how public schools are not performing well enough to deserve public money is the idea of "what is one of the primary purposes of our public education system?". That purpose is to raise future citizens of our country. Public schools provide the opportunity for everyone to have the chance to become educated and hopefully productive citizens, especially for those young people whose families are,for want of a better term, poor. Just as history is full of stories of people who have taken advantage of the "system" in a negative way there are countless stories of young people who have come from poor backgrounds, become educated, and contributed to America. Good "welfare"? The best possible type that pays it forward.

one old man
Ogden, UT

The worst thing about all this is that it will be the teachers -- not the parents who actually create the mess -- who will take the blame.

I can hear the right-wingnuts now. Fire the teachers! Fire the teachers!

Chuck E. Racer
Lehi, UT

It really bothers me that this article is using last year's scores for an article at the same time as the 2011 test have just finished. This makes people think that these are this year's scores. Did it really take a whole year to put this article together?!

Provo, UT

Bilingual education/dual immersion... that's the answer. Hire teachers who will teach lessons in English and Spanish so all the children learn in both languages. The children need to learn to speak Spanish and English and to be taught lessons in their native tongue. The state desperately needs to fund the Latino Educators of Tomorrow program at UVU!

Sandy, UT

I found it interesting to see that in the 10 Best Schools the percentage of students on reduced lunchs was low while the 10 Worst Schools all had extremely high percentages for school lunches.Perhaps the common denominator - Poverty - isn't just about finances but poverty of spirit, too. I'm sure that children on school lunch lists are being fed the food they need but feeding is more than just food. Are school lunch children getting the attention that they need at home - perhaps that school lunch is the only meal they have for they day because there is no responsible parent at home. Lack of attention and caring by even one significant caregiver for a child can make a HUGE difference in their lives - take look at the story of Abraham Lincoln and how much his stepmother did to change his life by encouraging him to read. Povery of spirit, of love and caring, is the difference.

Ogden, UT

And there you have it folks. The very argument against value-added metrics (teacher merit pay).

Those teachers in Ogden are some of the hardest working, most dedicated, and most caring teachers. Getting to the end of the year and having their kids communicate better in English than before is a tremendous achievement.

Instead of rewarding those who work with the least resources and the toughest challenges, we want to root out the "evil" that they are.

Let me tell you all a little secret, one known by many teachers. The reason why those "top ten" schools are successful is because they have money, because they have parental support (and 2 parents to boot), and because of supportive faculty. Remove ONE of those... just one and you have trouble. Take away two of those supports and you'll be in the bottom ten, despite all you do.

Those very same teachers and administrators sucking up all the glory would be near carbon copies of those in the lowest 10 schools.

After everything a teacher can do, it all comes down to what is in the home.

That's a fact that no merit pay will ever change.

Spanish Fork, UT

Party on Ogden.

Layton, UT

It's just SAD that having a space shuttle sticking out of your school doesn't make the kids smarter...

Santa Monica, CA

Call to action said--There is a better indicator of low performance and that is the number of students who get free food.

Wow. You must have attended one of the higher performing schools and had your lunch paid for in order to develop such a keen grasp of the obvious. I could make a case that poverty is a factor in low scores as well-or are you saying that if we either starved them or made them pay for their lunches their scores would go up?

A lot of the comments on this article are of the "born on second base--think they hit a double" variety.

Salt Lake City, UT

Horsewoman | 10:24 p.m. May 24, 2011 said:
"Bilingual education/dual immersion... that's the answer. Hire teachers who will teach lessons in English and Spanish so all the children learn in both languages. The children need to learn to speak Spanish and English and to be taught lessons in their native tongue. The state desperately needs to fund the Latino Educators of Tomorrow program at UVU!"

It's not that simple, Horsewoman. To do 'dual immersion', you're also teaching ALL children in a class, not just hispanics. The african-americans, caucasians, asians, etc. are ALL being forced to learn a 2nd language that they may not want/need, which means the kids learn only about 1/3 to 1/2 of what other schools do (evidenced in the scores).

The key is PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT in a child's education. If parents teach a child to read early, they have a better chance at success. Also reading TO them from an early age (1-2) helps immensely. Having charter K-3 schools for those wanting 'dual immersion' to bring them up to speed would likely help. Then they can cross over in 4th grade to their normal schools.

Springville, UT

@ Wayne Rout, diversity is a reality. Your comment smacks of racism. Poverty is the telling statistic. Cutting resources for social services is exactly the wrong thing to do.

West Valley, UT

Didn't know Ogden was doing that badly.

Wayne Rout
El Paso, TX

Liberals, maybe it is time to face facts and admit your mistakes. You are very good at making excuses for poor schools. So far, I read that it is not the teachers, it is not the students they are ALL super smart, it is not the facilities because a lot of money has been wasted on these buildings. Instead of concern for the weak students that are pulling things down, I'm worried about the good students who have to put up with dumbed-down curriculums, crime on campus, Spanglish in the halls and classrooms, Ebonics, and stupidity. It is a waste of educational resources to focus on the wrong end of the spectrum. There are good students at these schools, lets educate them and let the others adopt ways that will make them successful in society. The present approach of lowering standards to help the non-learners will never work. Many graduates cant read, write, or do basic math. One I interviewed could not tell time on an analog clock. Make the schools places where education is the focus and forget liberal feel-good policies; youll be surprised how quickly academic performance improves.

Ms Molli
Bountiful, Utah

The whole thing is just sad to me. Its the children who are hurt here while some silly adults are arguing about liberals, racism, free lunches, whatever. In the meantime some children are attending schools that are obviously not giving them nearly the same opportunities to get a decent education that are offered in other schools. Let's all keep arguing and pointing the finger -- that's a whole lot easier than putting the energy into trying to fix the problem.

The Utah Republican
Alpine, UT

Here's my POV as a twenty-year teacher:

1. Yes it does take a year to collate the data, which is silly. If it took me a three months, or six months, or a year to turn in my grades, I'd lose my job. Somehow that's OK at the state office level.

2. Schools score badly for a variety of reasons, but language ability and wealth in the form of family time for parents is HUGE. Children from families where both parents work full time jobs rarely get help with homework, or read to, or even tucked in, and they are also part of our country's future.

3. For those in my party who want to base teacher pay on student performance, please notice that market forces would stifle every incentive for teachers to break generational poverty.

4. If you are white, have a yearly household income above 50K, and your answer to the problem is a statement based on parental fault, you are part of the problem and belong in Dickensian England. (Look it up if you need to.)

Washington, UT

I also notice a correlation between the top 10 schools and the bottom 10 schools with the percentage of students getting free or discounted lunch. 87% of the lower schools students receive a lunch benefit where as 28% of the top 10 schools students receive that benefit.

This is failure in the home and not a reflection of teaching. Parents of these children are milking the system because they feel entitled. I can assure you that you follow these same students through their educational years it will be the same - free lunch, grants and food stamps. This isnt a six month, 1 year program to help get them back on their feet, this is a lifelong subsidy starting at birth. These parents are doing their children a disservice by living off the government. Its a terrible cycle with no end in sight. Single parent or not, if my child needed food to sustain life Id do any job to get it for them.

Cubicle Dweller
Salt Lake City, UT

What most people don't realize is that all of these schools are likely Title One schools, which means that they do get a lot of extra federal money. The extra money is frequently used to hire classroom aides for the teachers. Many of the aides are parents of children at the school. The top performing schools don't have extra funding for aides, but parents are frequently helping out in the classroom as volunteers. Which parents do you think are more effective in teaching the children?
The most accurate factors to predict academic success have very little to do with the school. Socioeconomic status and the education level of the parents are much more relevant than how much money the school has. The reality is that academic success is frequently a multi-generation process. Good teachers can make an impact, but the real difference is made in the home environment. The real tragedy of No Child Left Behind is that it stigmatizes teachers when the home environment is the real issue. Master teachers no longer willingly transfer to underperforming schools for altruistic reasons.

Mcallen, TX

@ bgl-"I could make a case that poverty is a factor in low scores as well-or are you saying that if we either starved them or made them pay for their lunches their scores would go up"?

In some cases, when things are given, motivation is decreased. An entire family may become dependent on entitlements, causing low self esteem. This results in lower test scores with some students.

Logan, UT

Publicizing these schools just seems mean. Like they are down and out and we are kicking them while they are down. Not a proud moment for the DesNews nor for these reporters.

Ogden, UT

Here is another issue: as much as I'd like to see success come to places like Dee Elementary, there is NO WAY I would send my kids there. I will do anything in my power to remove them from those situations where half the kids don't even speak English and are so poor that no school fees are ever paid (read: the school has no resources but the bare minimum). Thus, charters and school choice. Can't blame parents for wanting better for their kids. Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of the schools they leave behind.

Same goes for teaching there. As noble as it may be, I tired of being in a school full of gangs, drugs, weapons, and having ZERO support and mostly scorn from an unappreciative public. I left the "ghetto". Many teachers stay away for those reasons, despite the successes that can be had. Some just want to be teachers and not social workers.

So, are these throwaways? Do we continue to make the job so undesirable for teachers that only the newest and worst end up there? Do we continue to deny them equal funding?

So many problems, so many opinions.

Northern Utah, UT

I work in a Title One School. The poor will always be with us, but I believe that if our school system changed to follow a European or Asian model, things would change drastically. For example if a child is failing school by 6th grade...college would not happen. This way there could be two tracks for secondary ed. One for college bound students and one for technical bound students. Sports programs should be taken out of public schools and be supported by leagues. (I have children who play high school sports. btw) To impliment these changes, would force parents to be advocates for their own child's future. I also believe children with behavior issues should be kicked out of school until mom and dad could take time out of work to sit with them in class for a day or two. This would end behavior issues. The days of entitlement need to be over if we are going to compete on a global scale.

Triple B
Milford, NH

The 5 Ogden schools on the list have a total of 3132 students. A total of 15 students, 3 at each school, pay full price for lunch. That is 0.0048%. That is just sad.

Children in this country need to be taught in English at school. The schools should set up a program that immerses non English speakers into a program for 1 year. No Spanish, or Chinese, or whatever else allowed. The kids will learn quickly. I learned 2 languages this way. This will be like holding them back a year but they will be much more productive throughout the rest of their school years and lives here in the United States.

Orem, UT

Bilingual education makes sense. (insert sarcasm) Enable the non english speaking kids so that they dont need to learn english. Get them through school so that they can continue the poverty cycle.
We had this debate at my kids' school a number of years ago, many were wanting bilingual (spanish) teachers. I raised my hand and said that if we go bilingual for one group, we need to do it for all of our 'native' languages. I am an immigrant too (South Africa) and we spoke Afrikaans. So when I demanded that the teachers learn Afrikaans to 'enable' my kids, they rolled their eyes and said "you obviously don't need it" to which I said...... exactly.

Tomball, Tx

While not living in Utah, as someone who has spent many hours in public schools as a photographer I do have an opinion on one of the possible problems with some schools. I am always amazed when a public school teacher in the USA can't seem to understand or speak English. How are children going to learn to speak the common language if their teachers only use Spanish? We are not doing them any favors by not requiring a high level of competence in English from all those who teach, feed, clean or work in the office of a school. Children can and will take the easy way out if not forced to learn. Adult classes need to be offered to as many as will take advantage of them.

South Jordan, UT

Sounds like the best ideas is to come to the U.S. and continue to speak Spanish. Speak English at school and never practice it at home vs kids that speak it at school and home. These kids then use up most of the teachers time short changing the other kids.

Ivins, UT

I didn't see any dual immersion schools on the list, which teaches both languages everyday, btw, not just Spanish or another target language. I noticed three schools had hardly any non whites, so they probably didn't have a language barrier to deal with there. Even if there are a lot of students of hispanic descent, that doesn't mean they don't speak English. They may be third or sixth generation or more. I'm thinking poverty levels may have more of an influence and a transient population may as well, but there wasn't any data compiled on students moving in and out of the school boundaries here. Some people blame the parents, but that would have to be assessed on a case by case basis. Sometimes parents have poverty,disabilities, or abuse, or other challenges making homework less of a priority. Bottom line: statistics can be helpful, or they can be misleading. So be careful about making quick judgments.

DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT

The article highlights that most of the failing schools have a high percentage of Hispanic students. Also they highlight the large number of "English as second language" students as being a problem factor.

Apparently no one will question immigration status as another possible factor in how well students do.

That is an obvious factor to consider, and not meant to be demeaning or hostile to any racial or ethnic group, it is at least as relevant as if a student received a free or reduced price school lunch.

Mcallen, TX


Thank you for your comment.

Provo, UT

Tough if this sounds racist (it's not meant to be but truth is truth) but the Hispanic community needs to step up... look at the failing schools and see what the majority ethnicity is in a bunch of those schools... time to stop teaching in Spanish and and teach them the language spoken in every commercial airport control tower in the world. ENGLISH! common language = common understanding.

West Roxbury, MA

Totally unrelated, probably, but I noticed that unlike the high performing schools, the bottom ten are just architecturally UGLY. Not inviting at all. Sometimes that's not an accident.

Silent Lurker
Cottonwood Heights, UT

There seems to be some common threads with most of the low preforming schools. 1. A high number of children of Hispanic decent. (non English speaking) 2. A high qualifying number of student in the assisted lunch program. (poverty) 3. Low test scores. (low self esteem and possibly only one parent in home)
Some possible remedies could be to focus on teaching children the English language skills in their early school years (K-3rd). Upgrade/Require English proficiency by the fourth grade. Outreach programs to involve parents in learning process and progress of their children. Social workers assigned to high risk schools to aid/educate parents of their responsibilities. Request parent signatures on homework assignments of children. I am sure their are more, we need to try to think outside of the box to seek answers. We need to be willing to try new techniques and approaches to reach these children or we as a society will fail.

Zona Zone
Mesa, AZ

Fine, I'll agree to not fire the teachers of these low-scoring schools. But can we please fire the administrators! Whoever's in charge of the Ogden School District, I'm looking at you!

Clearfield, UT

One things that readers might not know is that three of the schools in Ogden City School District are on a SIG (School Improvement Grant)this year. One part of this grant is changing adminstration. I work in one of these schools. It's a lot of hard work. There are a lot of factors playing into these students. Poverty and helping students learn English plays into the issues.

West Jordan, Utah

The judgement that usually fills the post forums is not surprising. It is very discouraging. Face to face you don't hear the hate speech as much. That is unless it is group discussions involving cloned friendships.

Here is the reality. POVERTY! Why are people poor? It varies and involves the full spectrum of character (good, bad, and ugly).

There are many great people attending these low scoring schools who have less opportunity. They don't deserve ignorant labels. The racial and assistance issues are relative and worthy of discussion, but they should be viewed impartially and fairly. In other words, PLEASE don't forget circumstantial realities over prejudice! This is a big problem here folks.

Smithfield, UT

Require proof of residency prior to educating the kids and providing them free lunch. The grades would improve dramatically if we didn't have to educate all of the illegal immigrants.

Orem, UT

Our school's scores were available many months ago and available on the district's website. Of the bottom 10 schools, it is noted that there has been some improvement, but it doesn't list how much. In my opinion, a better article would have researched by what means improvements were made. As a School Community Council, we have worked closely with our administration and faculty to increase resources to improve our students' [elementary school's] scores. This includes collaboration, teacher aides, technology and many parent volunteers. We have used the state's Star Reading program and have been a testing school for the state's Star Math program. Teacher collaboration is essential to success; however, I believe it has to be district-led and supported. I have seen the WEEKS outside of class it takes to develop rubrics, essential standards and walkaways. This is not easy to do. It is impossible without parent involvement. Parents need to read and be read to on a daily basis. Homework needs to be supported. Children need to be fed, loved and feel secure. Attendance is critical. Eliminating poverty is the first step. Until we have no poor among us, everyone suffers.

Harwich, MA

worf: You're totally out of line.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

I can't let the Ogden schools completely off the hook because there are lots of schools along the Wasatch Front with similar poverty levels and percentages of ELL learners etc. To have that many Ogden schools in the bottom ten has to be concerning. There has to be more going on than meets the eye.

Salt Lake City, Utah

One of my good friends is a retired college professor, and said that over the past 25 years his students had become less and less able to express ideas in writing. He was a science professor, and one of his frustrations was that he had to wade through all the problems with their inability to write clearly before he could even begin to critique their science or critical thinking. Near the end, he began to feel more like an English teacher than a science teacher. He said his best students were usually Asian or Indian.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments