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Comments about ‘Utah students' ACT scores rank highest in nation’

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Published: Wednesday, Aug. 21 2013 5:55 p.m. MDT

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ManInTheMiddle
SANDY, UT

awful numbers - a "student" who scores 20 on the ACT is not able to compete in a global economy
shame on us - you can't expect teachers with an IQ of 90 to do much better - we must pay our best teachers more and fire our worst teachers
our kids aren't ready for the real world because we hire too many unqualified adults

Bomar
Roberts, ID

RE: ManInTheMiddle,

One thing we must always keep in mind is professional educators Never have enough money. How can it be that Utah has the highest ACT test scores and Utah's educators are always screaming for more money. Enough said.

Michael Matthews
Omaha, NE

Why does Finland do so differently than we do us? Yet Norway does exactly the same as us? Both countries are similar to each other. Finland used to do just like us.... they did something. What?

ManInTheMiddle
SANDY, UT

Bomar:
Utah doesn't have the highest ACT scores - Utah has the highest scores among the 10 states that require all students to take the ACT. Utah is middle of the pack when compared to all states and near the bottom when compared to industrialized countries. Again, our kids aren't competitive globally.

Note that only 33% of Utah 8th graders are proficient readers - just 2% read at an advanced level.

The issue is this - when my mother went to college in the 1970s she was automatically enrolled as a "elementary education" major. Then, very talented woman were forced/urged/encouraged to become teachers. Fortunately for me this meant that my elementary teachers were extraordinarily talented women. Today, however, these talented women most often chose different career paths. The el ed departments can no longer attract the most talented students (male or female) and the reason is that these kids can do the math - why take on so much student debt to get a job with a starting salary of $25,000.

Certainly, many talented teachers feel it is their life calling to teach despite the unreasonably low salary, but we just can't attract enough competent teachers at $25,000/yr.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

Bomar: Maybe based on the ACT scores, Utah teachers DESERVE more money, just sayin'.

Granny
Saint George, UT

@Man In the Middle:

Your comment: "The el ed departments can no longer attract the most talented students..." is sadly inappropriate and inaccurate. My daughter, who could have been successful at many courses of study, CHOSE elementary education. She graduated from BYU WITH University Honors, a signal achievement on its own. Many of her fellow el ed students were equally academically gifted and very dedicated students.

The low scores we have in this state and throughout much of the U.S. are partly a result of poor parental involvement in the education of their children. For some children, there are substantial extracurricular activities resulting in poor academic performance. Some parents are too stupid, too apathetic, too strung out, too uneducated, or cannot speak English well enough to help with homework. This is not racist...it's just a fact.

When we decide to put academics consistently as the top priority, we will get positive results. In countries that score higher than the U.S., students often have longer class hours and more weeks/year in school, have few extra activities, and are only promoted for classroom achievement.

ManInTheMiddle
SANDY, UT

Granny - how is my statement inaccurate or inappropriate? Are you really suggesting that the IQ level of the el ed majors is superior to the IQ level of say the accounting department, or the physics department, or the insert just about every other department on campus?

The truth is glaring - the el ed department simply can't/doesn't attract the best talent. Talented woman have so many more options and they are taking advantage of these opportunities. Their decisions to use their talents in other fields helps our nation/state in those fields, but unfortunately is depletes the pool of competent teachers. The ONLY way to reverse this trend is to pay teachers more. Significantly more.

Ask a high school principal to speak off the record about the quality of the job applicants she is attracting. The problem is getting worse not better. As our most experience teachers retire, we are replacing them with inept replacements.

Steve C. Warren
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT

Highest in the nation? Not exactly. Utah's composite score of 20.7 compared to the national score of 20.9 is a fairly accurate reflection of how poorly we're doing. Yes, the 100 percent participation brings Utah's score down, but a couple of other factors bring Utah's score up.

First, most of the state that test all of their students have a higher minority participation than Utah. Because minorities score lower than whites, this causes the state composite to be lower.

Second, Utah tends to eliminate more of its lower-performing students through its high dropout rates. That is especially true for Hispanics, where 43 percent who enroll in the ninth grade in Utah drop out. This compares with a dropout rate of 21 percent of Hispanics nationwide.

In legitimate comparisons, Utah has consistently been near or below the national average in a nation that performs poorly compared with other industrialized countries.

tesuji
St. George, UT

Much of the credit goes to Utah teachers who "consecrate" extra unpaid hours, and often their own money for class supplies, in order to teach our kids. They do this despite being underpaid, under-appreciated, and having unreasonably large class sizes. No other profession is expected to do this kind of unpaid work, except maybe nuns.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

Steven,
I guessed you missed the part about how we compare very well among those states that require all to test. Comparing to all states, including those who allow students not to test, is the old apples and oranges analogy. Comparing apples to apples, we do very well.

Compared to international students, we do poorly, but so does the entire nation since we are more concerned that johnny feels good about himself and sally does not bring an aspirin to school than we are about teaching them marketable skills and hard sciences.

Chuck E. Racer
Lehi, UT

It says that, despite inadequate-for-the-requirements funding, Utah families and teachers make it work. The family makes more difference that all the programs out there. Having good families makes more difference than the money, BUT less money does NOT mean better education. It also means government can't do for parents what they should do themselves, no matter how much money or programs they pour into it.

Utah would do better if they built more neighborhood-sized schools closer to the people (which would initially cost more, though long run less), quit adding to the burden by running after federal money which brings strings (Common Core), and divided all the big districts into community-sized districts (and got away from the colleges of education control too).

David G. Wright
Provo, Utah

The nine states are Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Wyoming. When broken down by ethnicity, here are Utah's rankings:
Black (1%): 1
American Indian (1%): 9
White (73%): 3
Hispanic (13%): 8
Asian (2%): 9
Pacific Islander (1%): 9
Two or more races (3%): 3
No response (5%): 1
38% of Utah's 2013 students had a Math ACT score of 22 or higher (ACT score of 22 means 50% chance of getting a B or better in college algebra). In 2012 40% of Utah's students had a Math ACT of 22 or higher.
Only 4% had Math ACT scores of 30 or higher in 2012 and 2013.

Steve C. Warren
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT

@Lost in DC

Perhaps you need to reread my earlier post. Yes, we appear to do well compared with the other nine states that test all their students, but my posting makes it clear that our numbers are artificially high. If a state's policies produce a high dropout rate (as Utah's do), then that state has eliminated many lower-performing students before they can take the ACT. This inflates Utah's scores.

Again, Utah's 20.7 composite, compared with the 20.9 national composite, is a fairly accurate reflection of where we stand.

Say No to BO
Mapleton, UT

We need to determine the goal here and then ask ourselves what the data mean.
"Every child can learn," and become, "Every child must pass."
Every student is not college-bound. Every child cannot become a brain surgeon.
Only a certain percentage of parents are willing to do what is necessary to support the educational goals of the school. Who has the responsibility of making up the difference? How heroic are we going to be? At what point does the system say, "We can only do so much here. We are in loco parentis, but you are still the parents"?
It is absurd to think we can deliver the same scores for Latino students as we do for Asian students. Let's stop believing we can or should.

carman
Wasatch Front, UT

Come clean State Office of Education! Please release apples-to-apples numbers only. Please report student cohorts based on average family income, two-parent families, % free lunch, etc.

Utah's State Office Of Education and schools/districts across the state benefit from positive comparable demographics. When compared to similar cohorts, our students are probably lagging their peers. Reporting apples-to-oranges numbers is a smoke-screen used to deflect criticism needed to drive real improvement in education across the state.

lost in DC
West Jordan, UT

Steve,
You are still comparing apples to cucumbers when you compare us to the national composite, which you insisted on doing. Compare us to those who require ALL to test; do not measure ALL of our kids against the top 45% of the rest of the nation.

Steve C. Warren
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT

Lost in DC:

Wrong. The comparison to the national composite is more valid than the comparison with states requiring ALL to test. That's because Utah has eliminated so many students because of our high dropout rate that our claim of "100 percent" testing is artificial and inflated.

By the way, when Utah tested only 65-70 percent, we were perfectly happy to be compared with states that tested 90-100 percent, because it made us look better.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

Great news!

And just how will the Dnews and the Utah Legislature reward our teachers? With another series of articles bashing teachers, requesting more accountability, and slashing funding? Oh! Or how about more voucher talk, because obviously our public schools are failing, right?

Instead of bashing teachers who are doing an exceptional job why not reward them? Sounds to me like Utah teachers deserve raises. They are excelling when they should be failing due to lack of support from the state.

What in Tucket?
Provo, UT

I think I would be more inclined to applaud rather than criticize. Utah could and should be the best.

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