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Top 30 elementary schools in Utah by test scores

Published: Thursday, May 31 2012 9:34 a.m. MDT

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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

School District: Alpine District

Percent proficient: 89.97%

Percent of children on free or reduced lunch: 29.51%

Demographics:

Ethnicity

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Lifelong Republican
Orem, UT

Not to sound too racist or anything but 27 out of the 30 schools have about 90%+ caucasian students.

The schools that are really achieving great things are the ones with a high minority population that is learning as well as the rest. Look at Wasatch elementary in Provo for an example.

This is what needs to be replicated in order for our state to have a successful education system.

Also the charters by me have a tiny minority population even though the regular elementary school has about 25% minorities. Why is that? Do the charters not go after the minority kids so their scores will stay high? The funny part is that the charter actually scores lower on the CRTs than my local elementary.

At any rate some great things are happening in schools across our state.

Thanks to our teachers and students for doing their best!

Lasvegaspam
Henderson, NV

Lifelong: Isn’t it sad that to even open our mouths and speak to a topic might brand us a “racist”? That, as you know, is the “politically correct” world we inhabit.

I get your point of bringing up Wasatch Elementary in Provo as an example of what all schools should strive for -- it has both high scores AND minority population -- but both Provo and Wasatch Elementary are anomalies. Wasatch Elementary is located at 1080 North 900 East Street, a mid to upper income level area. And Provo attracts minorities from all over the world because of BYU and the LDS culture. Also, I have no doubt that the pool of qualified teachers and administrators is extremely high due to both the above reasons.

But your thought is still valid. How do we get similar benefits to all other children where those conditions don’t exist?

My question for future city planners: When and why has the city of Ogden attracted so many in poverty?

Reasonable Emotion
Springville, UT

I agree, the interesting part of this report is the schools that are bucking the trend: scoring high proficiency rates in spite of challenging demographics (higher poverty). It would be interesting to explore what elements of the school culture have lead to those achievements. I'm not surprised to see many Alpine District schools on the list. I substitute teach there, and I see so much great, dedicated teaching in the elementary schools. I would be curious to know if the trend continues into the secondary schools where overcrowding becomes more of a problem.

ouisc
Farmington, UT

Ogden School District has a problem. Immigration is an issue--there are more illegal immigrants with kids in Ogden than available illegal jobs. The tax base for Ogden School District is not so great, as the wealthier in Ogden area tend to live outside of Ogden. The Ogden School District has not been working well with their teachers with regard to what ideas/innovations should be implemented in their schools, so the teachers and their administration aren't on the same page.

I don't have solutions, but I suspect the teachers in Ogden School District have a pretty good idea of the problems, and some of these teachers have great ideas to discuss. Hopefully the Ogden School District will empower their teachers so they can enact some outside-the-box ideas!

samhill
Salt Lake City, UT

My question is, why is a pie chart of racial "demographics" even included?!

What possible relevance does that have to any part of academic achievement?

I must admit I find it pretty disappointing that something as ridiculously irrelevant as race is part of this report.

It would be just as useful to include a chart showing the percentages of different weight or height ranges, or hair/eye color, or astrological sign distributions.

Please folks! Try and think about these things just a tad more.

Sigh.

siscat
Provo, UT

I'm confused, lasvegaspam, you mention the location of Wasatch, but did you notice the amount of kids on free or reduced lunch there; "Percent of children on free or reduced lunch: 65.38%" - close to the highest of the top 30 schools. Since when does that translate to "middle to upper income?"

Regardless, I am proud to be an alumnus as are my siblings, numerous nieces and nephews and my youngest son. Go Wasatch, keep up the good work!

DBeck
Eagle Mountain, UT

Just a hunch, but it feels a great deal like this list is incomplete. Why not show every K-6 school in the state and their numbers? And as a couple of suggestions to make this sort of listing more valuable and valid, instead of student demographics only, show also average teacher tenure, number of teachers with masters, longevity of administration, give actual location and not just district, and so forth. Make it a comprehensive list that reports all possible reasons for success and/or failures. Then we can know for sure if there is cause to celebrate or mourn on either end of the spectrum.

Lasvegaspam
Henderson, NV

Siscat, Many BYU students’ children attend Wasatch and, as you know, their parents’ earnings are slim because they’re college students. I would bet that almost all children of students qualify for free lunch. These “poor” children, though, are quite different from other types of the “poor”. These “poor” already live within a culture of valuing education, will have the full support of their parents, and will be pushed at both ends (school and home) to succeed. This is why knowing your demographics intimately can lead a school to success.

As you also know, the “tree streets” feed into Wasatch, and many of those folks qualify as mid to upper level income.

cavetroll
SANDY, UT

I find it funny that our legislature and those opposed to public education tout charter schools as the way to go. Yet I didn't see one charter school on the list. Are these "savior" charter schools not actually accomplisheing what was promised?

Really???
Kearns, UT

You are correct, cavetroll, there is not a single charter school in the top 30, yet, you may find one or two in the bottom 30.

ManInTheMiddle
SANDY, UT

samhill,
You underestimate the role of race/culture in test scores.
Give me any test - I don't care what it is - asvab, sat, act, stanford achievement, nursing test, cpa exam and I'll give the you the rankings. Asians will rank 1 - whites 2 and black and hispanics will rank 3 or 4.
The numbers are more than statistically significant; they are glaring.
To say it's not important is to ignore the obvious and misguided.

Sally Fergus
Orem, UT

Lifelong Republican,

Maybe you should look at the next list (Bottom 30 Elementary Schools) and maybe re-think your comment.

ManInTheMiddle
SANDY, UT

Charter schools run on half the money and have been around only a couple of years. Give them 30 years of experience and an equal budget and we'll see how they compare.
Overall, they are winning the race and they are doing it on one leg.

Peter R
Provo, UT

I'm an educational researcher so, to me, this is a wonderfully interesting list. Samhill, the reason these statistics (race and % of kids on free/reduced lunch) are included is because they are historically two of the strongest predictors of success (it's an inverse relationship) in schools all across the nation. People have thought about this, and studied it, quite in depth, and there is some thought that went into this.

That said, Lasvegaspam hit the nail on the head regarding Wasatch. It doesn't fit the normal profile of a school with such a high population on free/reduced lunch. However, the unreported statistics of parental education level is perhaps a better predictor than anything (though it's head to tease apart from socio-economic status). I know a lot of graduate students who live in the tree streets whose children qualify for free/reduced lunch, and they are staunch supporters of their children's education. Parental involvement is perhaps the most important aspect of any successful education. I imagine the teachers in the failing schools are trying just as hard to succeed, but don't get the same level of parental support as others.

Peter R
Provo, UT

That said, school policy can make a difference. Because of the Chinese immersion program, I have a son who attends Wasatch and another who attends a different school in the area. We consider them to both have great schools, with very involved teachers and parents. However, the difference in homework brought home by my son at Wasatch over these two years is staggering. They require a lot of the students at Wasatch.

This is not to say that other schools don't also require a lot. It requires persistent parental involvement to make sure that homework gets turned in and delivered, so parental involvement again plays a pivotal role.

Parental involvement doesn't just happen at school, either. Having volunteered at schools in both the inner city and bench part of Provo, there's a huge difference. The first time I volunteered in my son's kindergarten class, I was one of 7 (yes 7!) parents there. Anytime I've volunteered at schools in the downtown part of Provo, I'm the only volunteer. This is b/c more affluent families don't necessarily have both parents working schedules where neither parent would ever be available the volunteer.

Lasvegaspam
Henderson, NV

Samhill: If you ran a business (which I can tell you don’t) you would know that the demographics of your “customer”, which would include race, would be critical in promoting your product. If you don’t understand your target audience, you’ll miss every time.

Furthermore, the public schools need to operate more like a business. If a certain school consistently can’t do the job they were “hired” for (via our tax dollars) they need to risk losing our business, not have more money thrown at them to continue to do a lousy job. This is why parent choice in education and, in particular, vouchers for all are the keys to revolutionizing how education is delivered to our kids.

Pavalova
Surfers Paradise, AU

The study took place in UT. Of course there is going to be a higher percentage of Caucasian kids than other minorities. Especially in UT County or Sevier, or Iron County. It really doesn't mean anything. Congrats to all the schools on their contributions. It's not easy being a teacher in UT...let alone anywhere else for that matter.

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