It's almost like the legislature wants confusion, chaos, bad feelings to
exist. This "grading scale" is actually a weird version of a bell
curve, meaning that no matter if all schools showed growth and improvement, some
schools have receive an "F". It's like if we were the audience
watching the amazing runners at the Olympic marathon finish their race, and then
we all stood and pointed fingers of shame at those runners who didn't make
it on to the medal stand because, well, they're the "losers".
Because we have to have losers and winners so we know who to like. Real
educators know and believe that there are no losers in their classrooms, just
wildly different and unique individuals who are all running their
"race", sometimes, their way, but hopefully towards a finish line. And
real educators are at that finish line cheering for each one as they make it
across, not the just the perfect few.
"Gov. Gary Herbert said Tuesday that the school grades are a good starting
point for dialogue and discussion. He said the good news is that 56 percent of
Utah's schools received either an A or B grade."Is the
governor this brain dead? This is a bell curve. That means 56% of schools will
receive an A or B every year no matter what. What is utterly
stupid about this grading system is that a school scoring 79% will receive a B
grade, while a school scoring 1% higher will receive an A grade. It's kind
of an all or nothing type of system. That shouldn't surprise anyone
because the government (state government) isn't the most competent at what
I am angry at the continued arrogance and mean-spirited ignorance of our state
legislators. Urqurhart, not caring what anyone else thinks, saying “so
what”, and Neiderhouser openly dismisses the comments and ciriticisms of
educators including members of the state board. And to call it a move for
transparency? What does an A or B or C even say? What does an “F”
really say? Midvale Elementary has 97% free and reduced lunch so hey, they get
an "F". And Quail Hollow has 2% ethnic students and gets an "A".
Does this mean that Quail Hollow teachers have it all figured out and are
amazing teachers and the Midvale teachers are failures who can't do their
jobs? It would seem to be a ridiculous and spurious comparison to most, but our
state legislators actually say that under this new system, "failing"
schools can look at what "successful" schools are doing so they can
finally improve. Meanwhile, all this "improving" will happen without any
support, any investment by the state, without any additional effort by the
legislature. Ah, the magic of the little letter of shame.
L Train. Your attitude is a perfect example of what is wrong with education in
Utah. You demand more and more from educators and then complain when asked to
pay for it. You don't want to hire more teachers or give any a raise.
Then you wonder why the best often leave the profession for a more lucrative
career. As long as I can remember teachers and public schools have been
scapegoats for all the ills of society. Especially here in Utah. It is not the
teachers fault there is a child in their class who was never fed breakfast or
has a dysfunctional family. teachers can only do so much. The vast majority do
a an excellent job. A few fall short. That is the norm in every profession.
There is a vocal minority in Utah that are anti-public education and always will
be. Midwest Mom I really enjoy your comments.
joe5:I've given you an alternative, now if you really have an
open mind, and want to know,--do some homework. It's a time when the
economy, and literacy was much greater than today.The state
legislators in Utah are controlled by the feds. Stop standardized tests, and
funding goes out the window.It may be difficult, for you to make a
lick of sense of this, but with some effort, you might understand some of it.
joe5:I have given plenty of alternatives to assessing schools. I
guess you haven't read long enough on these blogs or close enough.Let's take these tests, if we are going to use them I guess use them
BUT:1) Use survey results from parents from the schools2)
Use survey results from students3) Use survey results from teachers4) For high school, look at how much scholarship money is gained per student
(a good indication of students being prepared for higher education)5) how
many students take and pass AP/IB exams6) What kind of programs does the
school provide 7) what are the graduation rates of the school8)
Tests, if we like them, in other subjects than the three tested. I mean my
favorite subject was Social Studies and I say that's the most important
subject.9) How many National Merit Scholars does a school produce10)
Longitudinal studies such as taking students and tracking them through a
significant length of time to see how they turn out in life. Do they attend and
graduate college etc.?So there you have, some ideas of how to really
ASSESS a school.
One comment about the "irony" of teachers giving grades.I
would bet most teachers don't base their student's grades on one test.
They probably use a variety of assessments such as assignments, homework,
projects, portfolios, daily quizzes etc. In other words, a complex way of
assessing student work. Schools should be evaluated more than just three CRT
tests as 1) there are other subjects in school than English, Math and Science.
There are other things going on that are valuable to the education process such
as clubs, sports, organizations etc. Again, these tests, even if they were good
at measuring the things they are measuring are an INCOMPLETE assessment of any
school.Second, many teachers I suppose would love to end the
practice of giving letter grades. It isn't something that many hold onto
like the Holy Grail. I would bet given their druthers they would choose
alternative ways to evaluate students. it is the system they are forced into
for the most part.
Worf: So provide details about how schools were run (not "ran") in the
40s-60s. "There's an alternative" doesn't provide much to go
on. What specifically did you like about them and what specifically would you
change.The state legislators in Utah are not guilty of the problems
you cited. That would be the politicians in Wash DC.Are you just
lashing out or do you have something meaningful to add to the conversation but
neither of your comments made a lick of sense?FreedomFighter41:
Foaming at the mouth, are we? Was your comment intended to be fodder for
discussion or simply to notify everybody that you are completely closed to any
Here's a novel idea. If you want something done right, efficiently, and
prudently, don't hire the government to do it. We need government funding
to provide for public education, but the management and curriculum, as well as
assessment of academic achievement need to be done by people that actually have
experience and have researched the myriad of issues and problems faced by public
education. Allowing government officials who have little to no knowledge of the
dynamics of a classroom and curriculum is tantamount to allowing a nurse to
perform surgery because they have taken a couple of anatomy classes. Let the
experts manage the curriculum and assessment parameters. The government can
invest money and assess if they like the outcomes of their
investment...that's how business is done in the real world, why should
education be different? Contract education (gov funding) to the experts of
education, and then when the contract is up, assess how the contractors have
done. I guarantee it will be better than what government micromanagement has
It's pretty obvious what this is all about.Make public schools
look bad so then our legislature can stuff vouchers down our throats.
joe5--alternative solution? Look at how schools were ran in the 40's,
50's, & 60's.--There's an alternative.Should
schools be graded by politicians who created:* a national debt equal
to $560,000 for every second in a year.* high poverty, and unemployment* a country where half its people can't feed themselves?* colleges
where a third of the graduates are from other countries, and half of entering
American students are in need of remidial classes.You want criminals
grading, and controlling our schools?
fredsgirl, so your daughter's school had a teacher/student ratio of 13.3
to 1. If our schools had similar numbers, we would have similar results.
Statistically, each teacher here has twice that many students. And,
realistically, most have about 3 times that many.
Students don't take those CRT tests seriously. When I had to take them 8 or
so years ago, the teachers said they didn't count against our grade so the
most of us would just ABACADABA it.
My daughters last school in the UK was in Wales. That school had very little
equipment and technology. Their games field, a cow pasture. If the cows
weren't using it that day. Their technology a tape player/recorder and a
TV for BBC schools programs. They had four grades, 40 children total, three
teachers, two class rooms. (Yes, one teacher covered two grades at a time, two
teachers shared a classroom.) Yet my daughter left that school two years ahead
of her American peers. If this was a school in America, parents
would consider their children poorly served. The British school
system has a longer year. Text books are chosen for education contant only.
We do not live in an agricultural society any longer. Automation
and modern farming methods have made using child labor less necessary. Why are
we still running schools by the farming calendar. Like so many things in this
great country, education needs a complete restructure for the sake of our future
in the world order.
Illinois has an extremely comprehensive report card format, including scores on
state tests, district wealth and pay, teacher/student ratio, admin/student
ratio, racial/ethnic mix, low income mix, non-English students...Methinks
Utah has oversimplified the problem.Still, it's fun to read the
comments from educators circling the wagons. Realtors and home owners
aren't too happy, either.
I am not sure the poster who said "all teachers/administrators want is
"more money"" is coming from.. Granted I have no clue what
administrators want, but I do know what teachers want.they want the
School District to stop requiring them to administer a test that is so lame that
the kid makes jokes about it. then to top it off, the master for the answers
does not match up with the test. they want the State board to stop
implementing new programs before the old ones have a chance to make a
difference.they want the School board to go look at other states and
see what actually works in schools (especially low income schools) instead of
listening to some PHd that have never taught in school.
Here is an alternative solution for you. Drop the scores altogether for those
students who miss 20% of a school year because of attendance. And then refigure.
Schools are being judged on whether or not they have 95% of their students in
those grades taking the standardized tests, regardless of whether or not they
have attended 95% of the time. The state announced yesterday that 13.5% of all
students miss 10% and more of a typical school year. Teacher's are being
graded on scores that include habitual nonattenders. From a business
perspective if an employee does not show up and produce they get fired. If we
are going to apply this business model to education then kids who fail to attend
should be dropped but with the caveat that they can come back at the semester.
Sounds fair to me. But we don't have the stomach to hold that line. Why?
Interesting. I looked high and low and found lots of whining but not one
alternative solution was offered (except "don't grade me at all"
and "send more money").
Wait . . . Grading may not be fair? Geez, I wish I had learned that in school!
@Johnny Triumph:Please supply some evidence that "pushing
schools to teach to standards", have made our society better educated. How
has standardized testing improved the educational level of our citizens?Looking at the passed thirty years of standardized testing, my evidence
that testing doesn't work are:* higher poverty rate* more
skilled workers coming from other countries* half our college students in
need of remedial classes* a third of our college graduates are from other
countries.* half our people can't feed themselves.* etcFor thirty years I have asked this question, and have not received an
answer. The only remark are students, and teachers must be accountable. But schools are for teaching, and learning. Being accountable is for
The grading system set-up for this program doesn't follow the national
grading system which is the norm: A=90-100%, B=80-89.99%, C=70-79.99%,
D=60-69.99%, F=0-60%. The grading system used for this program are for failing
classes to help the students pass. Therefore, the grades offered are just to
help the Utah schools look better for the public.
At an elementary school in the Granite school district, they were blindsided by
information that science was not going to be considered; only math and reading.
But, science was used. I believe that at the district level; at the state level;
and at the Federal level, the experts are all wet, and all they do is blow smoke
and use mirrors. They refuse to admit the real reasons there are problems in
school and try to improvise bandaids for really serious social problems,
notably, the disintegration of the family in America. Parents know how their
children's school is doing when the parent(s) is(are) involved with their
children's education. You don't need a flim-flam grading system. This
elementary I mentioned: student scores were higher than schools which received a
higher "grade".This grading system is bunkum.
I don't approve of artificial grade systems, but surely we can all see the
irony in schools, which consistently give meaningless letter grades to their
students, objecting to receiving the same treatment themselves. The grades they
give their students have exactly the same problems the grades the schools
received. They don't reveal the challenges, the learning disabilities, the
poverty, the trials a student may have faced that year, or the improvement a
student made. It's time for schools to understand how that letter grade
impacts their students and the only way to do so is to give them the same type
of grades and to be impacted by them.
Want to really know how your child's school is doing? GO TO YOUR
The problem with testing and scoring from New York, to Utah, to California is
that it is government that determines the books used, the teaching methods, and
the testing. It should be in the best interest of government to set up and fund
a structure for books, teaching, and testing but they should not be the ones to
decide the books, teaching methods or testing as they are not experts in
education. That should be left to educators.
Does anyone else find it ironic that EDUCATORS are complaining about how unfair
the tests are, when all day long they hear from STUDENTS how unfair their own
I laud these testing results. They push schools to teach to standards, and
while a lot of people hate that idea it's exactly how the workplace
functions as well. If I don't perform to standards then I lose my job, why
should schools be any different. And my employment is affected by those around
me just as school children are. We need these tests to show areas for
improvement and to show where we're successful.My child attends
a B elementary school. 5 years ago we would have been a C school. Thanks to a
diligent prinicpal and staff we've now improved. And there is still
improvement to be had and our school recognizes this. They sent an email to all
parents in the school yesterday with a plan for continued improvement. I'd
say our school is a model for how to succeed, and those schools/parents who are
whining need to knock it off and look for ways to improve. The whiners are only
penalizing their own children and looking for scapegoats rather than looking for
ways to help their children and their schools improve.
The purpose of schools are too "teach, and learn".This
grading, and rating philosophy is crazy, a waste of time and money.Why can't schools, and teachers grade student progress? Can't they
be trusted without re-inventing the wheel?
The school my children attend received an 81.7% as its final numbers. That was
good enough for a "D" grade. What we need to understand is that the
grading is on a bell curve. 10% are going to be a "failing" school no
matter how well they improve that year.
Another way to stigmatize the poor and disadvantaged. If I am a
hardworking student at an F-graded school, will my straight A's be as
meaningful as a C-student from an "A" school? I think not.The attacks on public education must stop. Access to learning is what made
this country great. Here in Wisconsin, Scott Walker expanded
vouchers state-wide, while also raising income limits. Guess what? Two-thirds
of the new voucher students were already enrolled in private schools. So, what
is being sold as a help to the poor, is actually a boon to the comfortably well
off. The parents also get to write off the rest of their tuition costs from
their tax liability. Vouchers are all about returning to the days of
segregation.Charters are no better. The intended purpose was to
create learning laboratories that shared best practices back with the main body
of the chartering school system. It doesn't happen. Oh, and
after decades of the voucher experiment, here in Wisconsin, the test scores
indicate that the public schools still out perform the so-called
Funny how the people are complaining about the government micromanaging our
local schools,Then the left demands even more micromanagement from
the government via common core.It's obvious more government
involvement into local education has made education worse.And if you
think these grades are bad, where common care has been implemented in the this
country the grades are even worse.
It seems to me so called educators have only one job, to educate the young. So
you don't like being graded? Shoes on the other foot now baby! When I was
in school in the Granite District, I had some teachers that made learning fun
and interesting, and some that were just there. Bumps on a log so to speak.
Looks like we have a lot of schools with educators just along for the ride.
It's time for those folks to re-commit and raise the grade for not only
their school but society. Yea, sure blame it on the low income and the parents.
That might work.
You cannot improve "incompetence" with an incompetent method of
assessment.It is a conflict of interest for the coalition to have
collaborated with the lawmakers. If things are to be fair, then why are the
charter schools immune from evaluation? Did they help draft the law to draw more
business to their schools?
Isn't it interesting that anytime anything is done to try and rate the
quality of the teaching at a school all we hear are excuses for why the low
ratings exist and whining about how unfair it is. And so typically it all boils
down to money. Maybe we don't need schools at all. Maybe if we will just
throw money at the kids they will automatically become smart.
The grading was done by a curve. No school got 100%. They highest I found was
NUAMES at 84%. They stated in their grade assessments that they graded schools
based on a curve. That's a common acceptable technique in grading. The fact
that only 7 schools (out of hundreds) got A's demonstrates that those
schools achieving A's are outperforming schools that fall into the middle.
Those schools should therefore be examined and studied to see if there
aren't ways the state can capitalize on their best practices. Maybe if they
put in +/-'s on the grades like: A- and B+, there might be a few more
schools falling into a higher gradation for ranking. Schools should
be tested. If it makes them uncomfortable, good. Too long schools have just
assumed that "good enough" is good enough. But if the objective is to
actually improve the schools we can't settle. FWIW, NUAMES is
open to ANY student regardless of academic achievement. They just have to get
chosen in the lottery. They don't have football team or cheerleaders, but
do have a robotics team. Turns out they do well because they're a school
that focuses on school.
I like the idea of some of the supporters of this grading system, or those that
complain about performance, having to spend a few months being the teacher.
They have no idea. (I am not a teacher btw) We want it better for our children
yet things continually get cut, class sizes increasing,etc. We want quality but
we don't want to pay for it. The hours spent by a good teacher don't
end when the bell rings. The hours put in go way beyond that. If education is
such a priority, show it by making it a profession that good qualified people
can afford to have. There are many good educators out there that are able to do
it as long as they aren't the main bread winner or don't have families
to feed. Continue to complain, but don't address the elephant in the room.
You want great teachers, pay for it.
Schools give out grades every single day, but then say grades are an awful thing
when applied to them? Huh? Anyone else see the irony?Grades are useful. If the tests and criterion the grades are based on are
flawed, then they can be adjusted. But measuring and grading performace gives
parents and educators valuable information. It's like getting a physical.
Better to know that you have high blood sugar or a lump in your breast so you
can take action.
I would be surprised if there is a single "A" grade school in the state.
These "A's" must be graded on the curve. We moved from from back
East into some of the best public schools on the Wasatch Front (according to
many lists), and have found the schools here to be mediocre at best. The key
problems?1). Weak in Math and Science, Writing and Lit2).
Crowded Classrooms and a lack of textbooks3). Too many young,
inexperienced teachers (and a few bad apples)4). Parent, student and
teacher expectations that are way too low5). Too much extra credit and
grade inflationWe have had to manage our children's education
here much more carefully for them to get a reasonably good education. It is
possible to get a good public education in Utah, but parents and the student
have to be vigilant, motivated and very selective of both schools and teachers.
Much of the problem boils down to poor funding (per student due to large
families) and low/modest expectations from most stakeholders.
I find it sad that every time that the state tries and hold school
administrators/teachers accountable, we get this huge push back from the
teachers/administrators. We definitely need some way to measure what's
happening at the school. The teachers solutions always begin and end with
"more funding." I, for one, am taxed to my max. I don't want to
have my taxes raised to hire more teachers/or give the current ones raises. I
feel the legislature does a pretty good job with what they have to work with.
If you're in a school that has a lower grade then put your big boy pants on
and go to work to improve. Quit blaming the "system" for giving the
school a bad grade.
Wow! Shine a little light and everyone starts to dance.
I am, once again, in the minority it seems. I love the idea of our schools being
graded. I believe the grades our schools receive are as complete in judging the
job they are doing as the grades my children receive. It's NOT the complete
picture, but it does give some idea where improvement needs to be made.
That's it. It doesn't tell me how hard the employees are working or
how dedicated the students and parents are. Also, I echo what was
said above by Observation Deck. The actual letter grades are flawed. 60-69% is
not a C anywhere else in this country. That is a full-on D. So if your school is
marked as a C you should know that it's really a D and the state
didn't want those true grades made public.
Wow accountability can make people uncomfortable. While it sounds like the
judging parameters need to be adjusted, testing every student every year should
be required to see how effective we arr with the money we spend. Of course,
schools that perform poorly are not only due to the teachers. One place that
the state really needs to address is getting parents invovlved in their
children's education. $5000 extra per kids will do far less than a parent
who reads with their children and goes over homework with them every night.
Now if they could just figure out a way to test the administrators that work in
the districts that comprise the other 50% of our taxes that are wasted.? There
are now as many admin as teachers which is rediculous, and the real scandal that
is UTAH Education.....the governor should also get a failing grade!
We all know that this was simply an attempt to make the Charter School Program
look good. Charter schools don't have to deal with free and reduced or
disabled children to the same degree that public schools do. This makes a huge
difference for them.
An F for the legislature, plus I'll vote against any sitting members next
Nov. The goal is to cover their lack of funding by moving the blame down the
road. How did the charter schools grade? Oh they didn't get graded?
Imagine that. Its hard to work in a system where those who control the system
want to ruin the system but not take the blame for pulling the rug out. Come on
legislators step up and take some responsibility.
Bell curve? So fifties. The science of performance measurement is so far beyond
such foolishness. The reaction from the public is predictable.
As always, political motives over people's needs.
Once again, Congrats to NUAMES Highschool!! This year they beat out Intech (the
USU equiv) and of course made short-work of Davis HS. They appear to be #1 from
the scores I've seen so far... Their close association with Weber State
university, and a faculty that's dedicated to creating a strong learning
environment continues to pay dividends that other schools clearly must envy.
Congrats to the highly motivated students that take a pledge as they enter the
school that they are there to learn and prepare for college. Something clearly
is working right there.
Overall... I would say these are accurate grades. It does not matter the
economic status of a student... they deserve as good an education as children
with stable backgrounds. Public education must work to improve everyone...
that's the beauty of it. These grades should motivate everyone to improve
Utah schools. The disadvantage of these grades is the very real possibility of
losing more families to home schooling situations. We need those families, we
need those parents to be active in the public education arena.
What a joke. The legislature has two motives here. First, to take
attention away from the dismal funding situation in Utah's educational
system. Second, to try to change the result of a referendum vote against school
vouchers. It's just that simple.
If you want to grade our schools...compare them to the rest of the
country....Utahns are the center of their own universe. My guess is that it
wouldn't be pretty.
Well, well, I teach in a "D" school. That will do a lot to build morale.
The only thing that seems to matter to our beloved Legislature is how well kids
do on one silly test. It doesn't matter at all whether the kids have a
positive experience at school, whether there is real learning taking place, as
opposed to the score on one test, etc. I truly "dare" members of the
Legislature who make these stupid policies to come and take my place for a month
or two. I will gleefully sit and watch you handle all of the stuff we deal with
every single day with virtually no help. Is anyone willing to take on the
challenge? And, BTW, you can do all of the lesson planning, parent contacts
(when the parents don't respond), and on and on. I loved my job a lot more
years ago when I didn't have to spend every waking moment testing kids or
getting them ready for the next test. This system takes the joy out of learning
for the kids and the teachers.
The tool is obviously flawed for all of the reasons already mentioned. But what
I found amusing is that the school needs to obtain 80% of the points to score an
A. At my child's school, she has to get 90% to score an A. Using the
grading system that we hold our children to, my daughter's school, which
scored 80%, would have been awarded a B-. I don't have a
problem with us coming up with a system to grade our schools and help them
improve the quality of education, but the tool would have to be developed by a
group of parents and educators together.
I recently retired from one of the schools on the list. I was so shocked. It got
a C? It's a wonderful school. Great parents, teachers, and great support.
We get excellent test scores. This grading program is way off.
Parents need to opt their students out of testing. If enough parents did this,
all schools would receive an F and the accountability system would become
meaningless. High-stakes standardized testing has lead to a narrowed curriculum
where students become good test takers. The most important aspects of schools
cannot be measure by a test including collaboration, critical-thinking, problem
solving, leadership, and effective communication.
I totally agree with the comments that this system is demoralizing. I choose to
teach at a school with a high number of English Language Learners, economically
disadvantaged students (over 60% disadvantaged), and/or students with learning
disabilities. We work often to the point of exhaustion at our school, have a
limited number aides (our reading specialist must now only work with teachers,
not students), and little extra funding. However, on our audit last fall we
received some of the highest marks for using best practice. On this grading
system we squeaked by with a C. The system was founded/created by a group that
historically doesn't support public education. The Parents For Choice
commentator said the grades will encourage parents to help out. In my
neighborhood, parents leave for charter schools because of AYP, etc., rather
than help. It seems to be a conflict of interest to have such a group create
the grading system. By the way, my learning disabled students and students who
are learning English will count twice against my school. Any student who scores
below proficient magically counts as two students below proficient. I don't
Why is income automatically associated with the ability to learn. No other
success can compensate for the failure in the home. Teachers can only do so
much. If parents don't care and the student doesn't care either. How
in the world do you expect the teacher to make up the difference.
What a complete joke of a system the Legislature has forced upon us. Once again
it makes the schools look incompetent while telling us nothing of vital
importance.All this system really measures is who performed poorly
in the past but is now doing o.k.What a complete joke and waste of
my tax money.Can we recall whoever thought this one up?
Another example of an industry - education - being micromanaged by government.
The result will always be failure.I do agree with Howard Beal... I
give our state legislature an F grade in understanding the true assessment of a
good school. And while I'm at it I will just add that I feel
we should stress more ethic and moral based values in our schools. Teaching
morals equates to more humanity and civility in society. Which is something this
world desperately needs.
So the entirety of a school's grade is based on three CRT tests. Wow,
that's pretty shallow. Is it just me, or is there a bit more that goes
into a school than just language arts, math and science? BTW--I
give the legislature a F grade and I give their instrument of assessment a F
grade as well.