Granite District students on two grade levels tested below national norms in a statewide testing program mandated by the 1990 Legislature, according to a report given Tuesday.
Granite is the first district in the state to release results of the statewide tests.Granite Superintendent Loren G. Burton said he was disappointed with the poor showing of fifth- and eighth-grade students whose average scores were in the 47th percentile, 3 points below the national normal of 50.
Eleventh-graders in the district were in the 51st percentile, just above the national average.
"We are very concerned," Burton said. "We are never satisfied with below-national norms." The district will start immediately to analyze the scores to determine in which academic areas the district is falling short.
This fall students in the three grades across Utah all took the Stanford Achievement Test, eighth edition, which evaluates students in all of the basic academic areas. The results will be used to help identify strengths and weaknesses and to make schools more accountable to the public.
It is the first time that Utah has had a statewide test that will compare schools equitably from district to district.
In Granite District the tests were administered to 16,838 students. The test selected by the State Office of Education is one that was "normed" in 1988. The testing company used 600,000 students to establish percentile scores. Anything above the 50th percentile indicates better-than-average work with anything below the 50th percentile, below-average work, compared to the norming or test group.
Granite students scored particularly low in language areas. Among fifth-graders the percentile was 42; among eighth-graders, 39; and among 11th-graders, 45. Burton said the low scores may reflect a district decision to emphasize writing skills in language programs. The test, however, emphasized grammar and other components of language that have not been emphasized in the district.
At the 11th-grade level students topped the national norms in every area except English, which was at the 45th percentile. The science scores were particularly strong at the 60th percentile, indicating that the district's renewed emphasis on science is having an impact.
The district is waiting for information from the State Office of Education regarding "expected scores" for individual schools based on socioeconomic and other factors that affect student performance. When those data are available next week, school-by-school scores will be released. The test results statewide will be presented to the Legislature in mid-January.