Salt Lake and Jordan school districts scored slightly above the national average in most subjects on statewide accountability tests but both, like other districts statewide, fell short in English/language arts.

Tests scores on the Stanford Achievement Test, given to fifth-, eighth- and 11th-graders statewide, were released to school boards in both districts Tuesday night. The tests taken this fall were the first in which all students in the three grades statewide took the same test. The results will be presented to the Legislature in January as part of a school accountability effort.In Salt Lake, the basic battery, or overall, score was 51 for fifth grade, 53 for eighth grade and 57 for 11th grade. The national average is 50. Statewide, the scores were 53 for fifth grade, 51 for eighth grade; and 53 for 11th grade. At the fifth and eighth grade levels, 10 subtests were included in the basic battery, not including social studies and science. At the 11th grade, students took six subtests to comprise the basic battery, again with social studies and science scores separately.

Jordan's scores on the basic battery were: fifth grade, 55; eighth grade, 54; and 11th grade, 57. District officials felt satisfied with the results and said they will be used to study the district curriculum to see where bolstering is needed.

Mathematics was Salt Lake's strongest subject in the three grade levels. The mathematics score was 59 (60 statewide) for fifth-graders; 53 (53 statewide) for eighth-graders; and 63 (54 statewide) for 11th-graders.

Jordan's math scores also were high, with 60 at fifth grade level; 55 at eighth grade; and 59 at 11th grade.

Language arts/English did not fare as well, at 52, 48 and 51, respectively, scores that are consistent with statewide results.

English/language arts also brought the lowest scores in the Salt Lake District. Fifth graders scored 45 (48 statewide); eighth-graders had 45 (45 statewide); and 11th-graders received 51 (45 statewide).

Reading, however, produced higher scores. Salt Lake had 50 (53 statewide) in fifth grade; 55 in eighth grade (55 statewide); and 61 (58 statewide) in 11th grade.

In science, Salt Lake students scored at the statewide average at each grade level. Their scores were 52 for fifth grade, 53 for eighth grade and 60 for 11th grade. In Jordan District, the same scores were 52, 53 and 66.

The tested students in Salt Lake scored at or below the state level in social science. The scores were 51 (55 statewide) for fifth grade, 50 (50 statewide) for eighth grade, and 57 (53 statewide) for 11th grade. The Jordan scores were 55, 54 and 62.

While admitting that the district has challenges, especially at individual schools in the inner city, Superintendent John W. Bennion also said he was pleased that the 11th-grade scores were the strongest of the three grade levels.

He also cautioned about placing too much importance on one standardized test, saying it is only one measure of school quality.

"These scores do not tell the whole story on student progress. They reveal virtually nothing, for example, about writing skills or speaking ability. They reveal very little about the reasoning powers or problem-solving ability or creativity of students. One of our highest priorities is to develop better ways of assessing growth in these areas as a supplement to standardized test scores," he said.

Jordan Board Member Maurine Jensen emphasized the "unmeasurables" in education, including teacher devotion and the individual successes of students who suddenly catch the spark.


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Complete scores next week

Results of statewide achievement tests of Utah students in grades five, eight and 11 are being released this week.

The Deseret News will publish the comparative scores of school districts in Salt Lake, Utah, Davis, Tooele, Wasatch and Summit counties Sunday, Dec. 23, and continue with school-by-school results during the following week.

The schedule includes:

Monday, Dec. 24, Granite District

Tuesday, Dec. 25, Salt Lake and Murray districts

Wednesday, Dec. 26, Jordan District

Thursday, Dec. 27, Alpine, Provo and Nebo districts

Friday, Dec. 28, Davis District

Saturday, Dec. 29, Tooele, Park City, North and South Summit districts.