Published: Monday, Sept. 9 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT
Before congratulaing ourselves on being tops in ACT scores, we should remeber
that only a few states focus on the ACT. Most states go with the SAT.
I don't think they are trying to prove we deserve to be the lowest funded
state in the union. They're trying to prove that you don't have to be
the highest funded to get good results. I think that's something worth
investigating.Some people keep beating the INCREASE FUNDING drum.
Yet they can't prove that more funding automatically means better results
(because it's a statistically provable fact that the highest funded schools
in the nation are NOT providing the best education).IMO the increase
funding agenda should not be the major focus of the UEA. The first focus
should be on providing the best education you can with the $$ you have.
Increasing funding doesn't automatically improve education (especially when
any funding increases are immediately eaten up by management before they get to
the classroom or the teachers).Utah is already one of the highest
taxed States. And most of our taxes go towards education (which is
appropriate). But do we need MORE taxes? Or can we find a way to maximize
the education we can deliver for the $$$ we already allocate to education?The ACT scores indicate that we can.
2 bit is wrong. The highest funded schools in the US ARE getting the best
results. The New England states and New Jersey spend the most and also get the
best outcomes. Conservatives point to DC as the highest funded, but DC is a true
outlier. Its culture is unique. Look instead at entire states and regions, such
as VT, NJ, MA, CN, etc.
I think the whole question is backward today. No one, not even liberals want to
pay high taxes. What people want are outcomes or results. What needs to be
done first is to decide what service level society reasonably expects... THEN...
decide how to fund activities to achieve these ends... and focus on doing so at
the lowest and most efficient cost.It is how business works. They
have an idea of the service levels people expect. They also know how much the
public is willing to accept in cost. Good businesses work to fit cost into
those expectations while meeting SLAs that customers expect.Politicians have it all backward... on both sides of the isle.
Some folks have it right, some wrong. Utah, in Peter Cooke's words last
year, is "the bottom of the bottom" in per pupil funding of K-12.
Quite right. And we're slipping nationally while the U.S. is slipping
internationally in assessments of K-12 outcomes. More and more countries have
passed the U.S. by because education has been a national priority in them, a
greater proportion of their GDP behind their successes. Leaving
such an important national matter as education to the states, an uneven bunch in
their abilities to fund, seems a foolish strategy when the last 12-15 years are
looked into and when successes like Massachusetts' during that time stand
out in that time. MA has the resources and the resolve many other ststes
don't, Utah included. Putting the best and brightest, most
classroom-worthy teachers in classrooms here is increasingly impossible with the
word out that those who teach in Utah are comparatively undersupported in every
way, overburdened with students, underappreciated as professionals, and, in the
bargain, relentlessly micromanaged from above. Not a very good way to advertise
job openings in K-12, don't you think?
Just to be clear. In 2012, 22 states (including Utah) had at least 70% of their
students take the ACT. Ten of those states tied or beat Utah on the ACT.
Utah's performance was about average for states where a high percentage
take the test.
Re: "Before congratulaing ourselves on being tops in ACT scores, we should
reme[m]ber . . . ."Yeah, yeah. UEA/NEA wants us all to look, and
look real hard, for the cloud they insist MUST be hiding behind ANY silver
lining regarding Utah education.It's what we've come to
expect of teachers' greedy, gritty trade union, and indeed, of all trade
unions.They'll dispute anything suggesting it's not
required that taxpayers shovel large piles of cash in their direction.Doesn't mean they have a point, however. Facts are a stubborn thing.
Dear procuradorfiscal:Do you expect to get an average bag of
groceries at the store for 58% of the average cost for the rest of the country
just because you live in Utah?Do you expect to get an average car
from your dealer for 58% of the average cost for the rest of the country just
because you live in Utah?Do you expect to get an average home at 58%
of the average cost for the rest of the country just because you live in
Utah?Why do you expect to get an average education for 58% of the
average cost for the rest of the country?
Irony,You are partially right. I used to live in Vermont and they fund
education differently there. They fund it mostly on a LOCAL basis (not the
huge district funding model we use in Utah). They have low taxes
in general, but HUGE property taxes (which are almost exclusively used to fund
education, and your property taxes are used to fund your LOCAL school, not a
huge group of schools). It works like this... when a school in
Vermont needs more money they call a community meeting (small community) and the
people served by that school show up and vote on increasing funding. If they
do... their property taxes go up, but their kids get a better education. So in a way Vermont schools are a little like private schools (compared
to huge district model we have in Utah). Which is good and bad. People in
some neighborhoods have good schools (and huge property taxes), and some
communities have poor schools (and low property taxes). It's a huge
factor when buying or selling a home. Some people shop more for the school
than they do the home. It's a huge selling point (but you pay).
When comparing test scores between states, one must first know the percentage of
students who take the exam. Utah has a high percentage of students who take the
ACT, which is required by major universities in the state. As the percentage of
students taking the test grows, the average score approaches the "true"
average score which would result if ALL students in the state took the exam.Conversely, the percentage of Utah students taking the SAT is rather
low. Reason? Only elite out of state schools require it, and Utah students
taking the SAT tend to be those applying to elite schools like the Ivy League or
Stanford. This cohort tends to have higher academic skills than the average
student, and consequently Utah's SAT scores look quite good versus other
states---until you compare the percentage of student who took the exam. The
lower the percentage, the more likely the students represent "the cream of
the crop". SAT scores in Mississippi and Alabama are quite high, but only a
low percentage take the exam.Likewise, the National Merit qualifying
score for Utah (based on 99th percentile PSAT score in each state) is below the
The 2013 National Merit Semifinalist cut off score in 2013 was 205 in Utah. In
California, it was 220. In Alabama, 210. Wyoming and West Virginia were lowest
at 200. Several Northeastern states (NJ, MA) were 221. These scores represent
the combine Math + Verbal + Writing scores for the PSAT exam. To prevent
high-scoring states from claiming all the Semifinalist spots, each state is
apportioned its share of Semifinalists in proportion to its share of the high
school population. The qualifying score is the point at which 99% of the
students score below, and 1% score at or above, in each state. On this basis,
Utah ranks in the bottom quarter of the nation. What these stats
don't tell though is the percentage of students in each state who take the
PSAT. In states where the public universities require the SAT, most college
bound students take the PSAT as practice for the real SAT. Students in states
where most eventually take the ACT might find less incentive to take the PSAT,
since they would be taking it primarily beacuse of the the test's secondary
role: as a primary means of selection for the National Merit Scholarship
Re: "Why do you expect to get an average education for 58% of the average
cost for the rest of the country?"Dunno. But it sure seems to be
working. And has for many, many years.
Just found the National Merit cutoff scores for students who took the PSAT last
fall. The scores to which I referred above are for students who took the exam in
2011. Utah's qualifying score is now 208, placing it seventh from the
bottom of the fifty states. California's cutoff score is now 223, with
Massachusetts and New Jersey now at 224.
In the latest grading of school results, one school did surprisingly well in
spite of its socio-economic situation. That is Northwest Middle School. Their
leadership touted resources as being the big difference. Resources that came
from the federal government mostly that brought tutors to the school, aides for
teachers, along with state of the art technology. So in this case, a school
that would have got an F based on its socio-economics (if it followed similar
results in Utah) actually graded out a B. This is what MONEY/RESOURCES can do.
But where we educate on the cheap, well we got predictable results in our lesser
"Re: "Why do you expect to get an average education for 58% of the
average cost for the rest of the country?"Dunno. But it sure
seems to be working. And has for many, many years."It sure seems
to be working, that we get an AVERAGE education. 'At a boy, why would we
want more then an average education for our children. Lets not strive to be
number one. Some people here are presenting some rather good
evidence that we are hardly even average in our state education. I wonder if
that's why we are such a conservative state? "Doesn't
mean they have a point, however. Facts are a stubborn thing."I
keep seeing this poster claim how stubborn facts are, yet consistantly he does
not present ANY facts. Hmnn. . .
Cherry picking facts about Utah is a time honored tradition.You
hardly ever see the negative issues being brought up by these people because
rather than solve problems they would rather believe they don't have any
problems. So many Utahans believe they are the best in education
when it simply doesn't hold true when scrutinized. This only keeps Utah
from improving. I( find that Utah has much more faith in conservative
philosophies than they do in anything else.
"...teachers' greedy, gritty trade union...".Juxtaposed
against greedy/gritty banksters/hedge fund operators on main street/wall
street...I think I'll stick with the teachers association.
Re: "I keep seeing this poster claim how stubborn facts are, yet
consistantly he does not present ANY facts."Uh . . . the fact we
were discussing was the one mentioned in the article -- Utah leads the nation in
ACT scores, at least among states with a sufficiently large sample size to draw
inferences from the scores.That's the stubborn fact UEA/NEA
shills keep bumping up against, as they disparage their own membership,
suggesting Utah education is in such horrible shape.
procuradorfiscal,Please see my prior post.Using states
with 70% or greater participation in the ACT, Utah ranks average (actually very
slightly below if the actual mean score of the group).So Utah is not
getting phenomenal results. Not bad results necessarily. But not awesome
@Twin Lights: agree. And based on PSAT performance, the top 1% of Utah scorers
ranked 43rd in the nation, with only seven states having lower cut-off scores.
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