The top 50 elementary schools in Utah according to the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System

Published: Wednesday, July 31 2013 11:52 p.m. MDT


This is a ranking of the top 50 public elementary schools in Utah — as listed in the Utah 2012-2013 educational directory — according to 2011-2012 Utah Comprehensive Accountability System data.

Under the Utah State Office of Education's UCAS system, ratings are given based on scores from end-of-year Criterion Referenced Tests, which assess student proficiency in math, science and language arts, as well as the direct writing assessment in applicable grades.

Each school is scored on a 600-point scale, with 300 points possible in growth and 300 points possible in achievement. The state average, for elementary schools, is 435/600.

In the area of potential for academic growth, 200 points are possible for all students, and 100 points are possible for below proficient student growth. In achievement, schools are awarded up to 300 points for students who are at or above proficient.

For further clarification or more detailed reports on individual schools, click here.

The first data under the new system was released in Nov. 2012, for the 2011-2012 school year. At the time, John Jesse, the assessment and accountability director for the Utah State Office of Education, told the Deseret News that parents should not take a below- or above-average score as a sign of total success or failure, but that they should look into what is contributing to the scores and what can be done to help them improve.

"Rather than make judgments, let's ask questions," Jesse said. "Is the school doing something to make that (score) happen?"

The list does not include schools that were given N/A rankings or used an alternative high school accountability report. It also does not include special schools and programs or charter schools.

Related: The bottom 50 elementary schools in Utah according to the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System

Related: The top 50 high schools in Utah, according to the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System

Related: The top 50 bottom schools in Utah, according to the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System

Related: 2012: Top 30 elementary schools in Utah by test scores

Related: 2012: Bottom 30 elementary schools in Utah by test scores

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Seek to understand
Sandy, UT

The UCAS data is unable to be interpreted this way (the "top" elementary schools). You will note that most of the "best" schools (those who are successful at getting the highest number of their kids to pass the state tests each year) are not on this list.

This is because the way the data is used to come up with the scores skews the results toward schools that are not particularly high achieving, but are making progress. This is because the growth score is weighted equally at the lower end of proficiency rates and at the high end. So if a school had 96% of its students passing the language arts test one year (arguably a very high achieving school!), and it "slipped" to 92% the next year, that slide would be weighted so heavily in the growth area that the school would score lower on UCAS than a school where only 80% (or less!) of the students were at mastery (especially if that school had only 77% at mastery the prior year).

So we shouldn't get too invested in these types of ratings. They are virtually meaningless.

Orem Parent
Orem, UT

I challenge anybody and everybody to make any kind of sense of this whole UCAS grading system. It is a complete joke and even the people that came up with it can't explain it.

Take Provo school district for example. Provost made it near the top of all elementary schools in Utah. It is a fine school but isn't even near to being the best elementary school in Provo. Just up the road about .5 miles you will find Wasatch elementary which leads the state in many categories yet they aren't on this list of the top 50 schools?

This UCAS system is a mess and I don't know why the media doesn't figure that out instead of posting articles like these that really have no meaning.

The legislature once again created a mess in education by trying to "grade" every school and the USOE made the legislatures decision into an even bigger mess.

Please stop with the insanity already. Our schools are doing a fine job when their hands aren't tied by the legislature. It is enough to drive a person crazy!

Orem Parent
Orem, UT

In fact go back and look at the bottom of the article and you will find a link to the top 30 schools based on end of year testing. Very few of the schools with the top test scores make it into the list in this article about the top 50 schools in the state. How is that possible?

The schools with the top test scores are the best in the state. Period.

This whole mumbo jumbo UCAS system that tries to award points for "progress" is a joke. I guess schools at the top can't progress as a school at the bottom so they get docked in the UCAS mess.

What a complete joke!

Lehi, UT

Schools with the best test scores aren't necessarily the best ones. I know of teachers who will do some pretty sketchy things in order to make sure their test scores are high.

Northern, UT

Until these rankings take into consideration other schools on a national, or at least regional level, i.e., CO, AZ, NM, NV, CA, WA, OR, WY, ID, etc. then they mean nothing. They are basically saying that these schools are the, "best of the worst" Utah schools, with their low expectations, low level of funding, and lack of national and international perspective, will continue to rank near the bottom. If any of these districts were serious about quality education, they would benchmark against top performing out of state schools. Our kids will be launched into a national, and international competitive workforce, and the UT school system owes it to them to provide a better, more intense preparatory environment.

Say No to BO
Mapleton, UT

For people who spend their lives grading students they sure don't like to be measured.
I wonder how these teachers would feel if students came to them with excuses about poor performance?

Lifelong Republican
Orem, UT

I think "say no" is missing the point. I talked with a teacher about this system and he actually tried to explain it to me. He has nothing to hide. His students continually are at the top of the state in test scores. This scoring system isn't about poor performance. His students are the top in the state. This scoring system puts a huge emphasis on "improvement". Well guess what? If you are top in the state, there isn't any room for improvement so your school gets docked for not improving. How ridiculous is that?

What this list is really showing was who was previously the worst but is now doing better.

And to Malihini, Utah schools continue to produce some of the top students in the nation. Just go take a look at AP pass rates and number of AP test taken per pupil.

Of course you probably wouldn't believe that because it is based on actual statistics and facts instead of talk radio.

Woods Cross, UT

Say NO to Bo:

You need to research where this testing system came from. Hint: It was NOT classroom teachers.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Say No to BO,

Teachers don'tt mind being measured, they would just like the measurement to be an accurate reflection of their teaching skill. Pretty tough to teach a student who is not there 80% of the time, yet we drag them in and test them, and then determine that teacher did a poor job based on their test scores. I would also question especially at the secondary level any of scores, since large numbers of students finish tests designed to take an hour or more in fifteen minutes. Since there is no consequence to students for poor scores, many really don't care what their score is.

Kings Court
Alpine, UT

This list can be misleading because of the growth points. I know elementary schools that have such extremely high proficiency rates on UCAS, it is impossible to show growth under the UCAS model. I would argue that those extremely high performing schools that are left off the list are much better schools than some of these that are on this particular list.

Also, please note that you don't see any charter schools on this list (like the High Schools). That is because the legislature decided to drop accountability on charter schools and exempt them from UCAS. Apparently, there is something to hide.

Rob K

UCAS is a joke because it is a mangled fusion of No Child Left Behind requirements and the Obama Administration's NCLB waiver requirements. Congress has not reformed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and consequently NCLB still remains in effect. The waivers offered by the Obama Administration are not blanket waivers, and they only apply to very specific provisions within NCLB. Due to legal quirks stemming from unfunded mandates and the supremacy clause, the waivers technically can only grant limited variation in the methods a state can use to achieve the same desired outcomes specified by NCLB. Since state and federal educational goals are currently so ambiguous and conflicted, state education offices have no choice but to invent meaningless metrics that seem rigorous enough to dazzle the purse-string holders.

Ute parents - me Cougar
Rathdrum, ID

Way to go Goshen. Caring teachers make the difference!

Carol G

It's so annoying the way they spend so much time continually testing the students. The teachers hardly have time to teach it seems. I wish the feds would get out of education and leave it to the states where it used to be.

South Jordan, Utah

If they are so great, why are so many of these photos outdated (2007? - 2011?) As I scrolled through, it made me wonder how current all the data is or is this all accumulated and evaluated, then presented a year or two later. Parents like to know most current and I don't know that it is possible to present it. Best remedy, no matter the school is, if you don't like it, get involved so you know what's going on at your local school or with your school board (i.e., attend meetings and vocalize concerns). Also, any way to just post the listing so we don't have to scroll through each and every picture that might also come with a pop up ad? Frustrating!

Sugar City, ID

The system needs to be changed so that real scores, not manipulated scores reflect how well the students in the schools are actually doing. Then, when real scores are determined, any school district that has an elementary school that is below a determined minimum should transfer all district athletic funds to the elementary schools in order to help these elementary students get the basic skills they need. These academic skills are far, far more important in the long and short term than how far a kid can throw a pass.

Clovis, NM

The whole testing system is a bunch of baloney.

Teachers spend weeks, even months, ignoring regular curriculum while preparing students for these tests. Why should that be necessary? If the students should be learning the information,it should be part of the curriculum. If it is not something that supports curriculum, then get it off of the test. The testing should address whether students are learning appropriate curriculum.

Schools that attract the best teachers and the encourage parent participation do not get enough recognition for good performance. If a school is scoring well above expectation, why should they be penalized because they don't have as much room for improvement as a school that is a low achiever?

No child left behind? That is absurd. A teacher friend of mind works with mentally disabled students. Each student is tested regardless of mental capacity. They will be left behind the rest of the students. That's reality. A student who chooses not to learn, will fall behind. That is also reality. Agreed, no child should be left behind who is willing and able to move ahead. But a teacher can only do what they can do.

Lifelong Republican
Orem, UT

Are we recycling this poor story again? We all understand that these aren't the top 50 schools in Utah. These are the 50 that were the lowest but have since made the biggest improvements. In order to make this list all a school would need to do is bomb the test one year and then improve the next year.

The schools that are truly the top in Utah don't make this list because they are at the top with little room for improvement. The whole system is a complete joke being played on us by the legislature and the USOE.

Sadly the Dnews is perpetuating the joke by continuing to print these articles.

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