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Grading Utah schools: Top 50 highest scoring high schools

Published: Monday, Sept. 9 2013 3:47 p.m. MDT

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Utah schools received their report cards on Sept. 3 with the release of new school grades based on proficiency in language arts, mathematics and science, and the growth students demonstrated year over year on end-of-level testing.

The grades were given in compliance with a law enacted by the Utah Legislature in 2011 and modified in 2013.

According to the initial data release, 56 percent of Utah schools earned either an A or a B grade, with 11 percent earning an A grade, 45 percent earning a B grade, 30 percent earning a C grade, 10 percent earning a D grade and 4 percent earning an F.

All schools can earn up to 300 points for having students achieve proficiency in language arts, math and science. The schools can earn another 300 points by showing growth for all students and those who are below proficient.

High school grades were given on a 750-point scale as the schools stood to earn up to an additional 150 points based on graduation rates.

Here's a look at the top 50 highest scoring high schools according to the new data.

Related: Grades for Utah schools bring strong reaction from parents and educators

Related: Utah charter schools' grades no better than traditional schools

Related: School grading systems: a hot topic around the nation
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raybies
Layton, UT

Can it be that schools that focus on math, science and language arts actually do a better job at being tested for math, science and language arts?

JBQ
Saint Louis, MO

All eyes should be on the U.S. Department of Education. Education is a "state function" according to the U.S. Constitution. There are inherent inequalities involved which do not sit well with left wing elements ingrained within the current administration.

The Big One
Salt Lake City, UT

Murray 49th in the state, well that is something for the Spartans to be proud of.

Anon0101
Salt Lake City, UT

Utah needs to make education a higher priority.

As businesses grows in Utah and existing businesses expand into Utah, there is a concern for attracting new employee's from out of state. When a potential recruit asks the question, how are schools in Utah, it's never a positive subject to discuss. Education below the university level in Utah hasn't been treated as a high enough priority yet.

Utah needs to begin looking at schools in states where education is excellent like Northern Virginia for ways to improve.

This is a thorn in Utah's economic growth.

Malihini
Northern, UT

It appears that this grading methodology is nothing more than a bureaucratic exercise. 42 out of the 50 schools were rated with a "B" grade and the rest, with the exception of the one "F" grade, were given an "A". So, we now have a grading system that gives A's and B's to all of our schools. Just how is that helpful?

Not only is that not helpful but it is a bit ironic in the sense that this highlights one of the main problems that the Utah schools have, i.e., they all want to give good grades because they are afraid of being honest and hurting others' feelings. Too many teachers in UT cannot separate their profession from their church calling.

I would suggest that in order for Utah to gain some real insight into their school districts they should compare their schools to like schools, meaning similar demographics, to other schools on either a regional or national basis. If they continue to compare themselves to other Utah schools, they are simply saying, "these programs are the best of the worst."

O'really
Idaho Falls, ID

Hmmm. None of the Salt Lake City schools were on the list. What does that mean?

squirt
Taylorsville, ut

Who cares? The law is flawed with no validity and reliability and it is not controlled for bias. Complete legislative nightmare they will blame on others. Do you think they will have the courage to admit they made a mistake and repeal it? I doubt it. So very sad.

Orem Parent
Orem, UT

Why is the legislature making the schools waste their time and money to report this garbage? It does nothing for the schools or for us parents.

Spend the money wasted on compiling this useless data on something worthwhile. Something like maybe hiring more teachers so my kids don't have 38 kids in their class!

carman
Wasatch Front, UT

I doubt there are more than a couple of truly "A" grade school in the state. Most of the "A's" and "B's" must come from grading on the curve. Just like grade inflation is running rampant in our schools (how many times do you hear about a kid with a 3.9+ GPA with an ACT score in the mid-20's?), grade inflation OF our schools is also out of control.

Until we get serious about 1) Math, science, writing and critical thinking 2) Reducing class sizes 3) avoiding having 20-30% of our teachers be young and inexperienced 4) set higher expectations for our students and schools, and 5) put an end to all the grade inflation, we will continue to have mediocre schools.

The fastest way to improve our schools is to require demographic cohort data be reported on ACT and CRT scores for all of our schools (broken out by income, English-as-a-second-language, two-parent families, and reduced/free lunch). If parents could compare schools on an apples-to-apples basis, the "market" would drive better outcomes in our schools. Right now, it is almost impossible to know how a school is performing.

Rural sport fan
DUCHESNE, UT

carman:
"I doubt there are more than a couple of truly "A" grade school in the state. Most of the "A's" and "B's" must come from grading on the curve."

You DO understand that if 90% of the schools have a B, then there wasn't a curve, right?

"The fastest way to improve our schools is to require demographic cohort data be reported on ACT and CRT scores ......If parents could compare schools on an apples-to-apples basis"

This is the flaw in the thinking espoused by the Fed's educational system. There is no "apples to apples" in schools, since they are all full of individuals. You can sort by demographics all day, and get all sorts of data, but the reality is, some poor Hispanic kids are smart and work hard, and some rich white kids aren't and don't.

There is no "free market" in education, most kids go to school where they live. If we weren't wasting money on fed mandated programs, maybe they could hire an extra teacher or two.

In the end the ONLY thing that helps kids learn better, other than parents, is a good teacher.

Skyline_Ute
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

I feel I need to point this out as 2/10 comments have mentioned it. There are more than 50 high schools in the state. This article is only listing the grades of the "50 best". So 90% of the "50 best" received a B grade, not 90% of high schools in the state. When you look at the grades of all high schools, the majority fall in the B and C range because the grading system is based on a curve.

Rural sport fan - You are right when you say "some poor Hispanic kids are smart and work hard, and some rich white kids aren't and don't". However, the reality is that statistics show that students from lower socioeconomic and minority backgrounds perform lower on standardized tests than their counterparts on the other side of the spectrum (although there are always small exceptions, as you pointed out). Some schools are better at dealing with these students than others. But data that is available to the public, and the school grading system our state has currently adopted, don't adequately show these differences. Therefor I agree with CARMAN and his thoughts on how to improve our schools.

carman
Wasatch Front, UT

To Rural Sports Fan:

re: "You DO understand that if 90% of the schools have a B, then there wasn't a curve, right?"

What I understand is that our school here in Utah is one of the top handful of public schools in the state on multiple lists, and yet is nowhere near the school we left back east. Utah parents/taxpayers are quite content with mediocre schools.

re: "...some poor Hispanic kids are smart and work hard, and some rich white kids aren't and don't."

True, but...Human nature is human nature, and across large numbers of students, children who come from two-parent families, with higher incomes have natural advantages, and do better on college entrance exams, getting into better universities, and make more in life-time earnings than those from less-advantaged demographics. These are facts. Look them up. Comparing students from Park City, Lone Peak and Davis to students in less affluent areas makes ZERO sense when assessing school performance. So scores from these schools look pretty good, until you compare them to similar demographic cohorts from really good schools such as the one we moved from back East.

Liberty>Tyranny
Murray, UT

A lot of whining from parents of children who attend subpar schools. I am grateful they rank the schools. They give my children report cards. Why shouldn't they get one? To the lifelong republican that is clearly pushing an anti voucher agenda: Most of the top schools are public. Take note.
I am glad I chose to drive my kids to a top ranked school. The driving stinks, but the kids love it.

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