Test scores fluctuate widely from school to school in the Salt Lake and Murray school districts, but the districtwide basic battery scores exceed the national average at every grade level except Murray's eighth grade.
Superintendents from both districts gave mixed reviews to their districts' performances, noting both the strong and weak areas."We're generally pleased with our scores. We know that we have a way to go, especially in certain areas, but I'm excited about the attitude I'm feeling in the district. Teachers are coming together on each grade level and sharing ideas on how to handle certain problems. They're evaluating the tests and looking at areas where we could use improvement," said Murray Superintendent Ronald Stephens.
Salt Lake Superintendent John W. Bennion is pleased that his district's scores improved with each grade level.
"It's good to see that we get stronger as we move students through the system," he said.
But he said he's not ready to say the district has done its best and can't do better. He conceded problems with the scores that were below state and national average at the inner-city elementary schools.
"We still face a great challenge in helping our central-city elementary students become more successful learners. The data should rekindle and strengthen our determination to develop more effective teaching strategies in our central-city schools," Bennion said.
Mandated by the Legislature, the accountability tests were given statewide in the fifth, eighth and 11th grades. Students took the Stanford Achievement Test, Eighth Edition. The national norm was 50.
In Murray, the 545 fifth-graders scored a total basic battery of 60. The subtest scores were: math, 63; reading 57; English/language, 61; science, 60; and social science, 57.
Two elementary schools - McMillan and Longview - placed above the expected score determined by the state. Liberty was the only elementary school to score below the expected range.
The expected scores were determined by assessing the number of children on free or reduced lunch or whose families are receiving Aid to Dependent Children - indications of family income.
A high point of Murray's elementary scores was English/language, a weak point in other districts statewide. Stephens credits a strong English curriculum for the district's strong showing.
The tiny school district also doesn't have to contend with any large concentrations of students who come from homes where English is not the primary language.
Murray's eighth-grade basic battery score of 48 - below the national average -- is the district's biggest disappointment and will be evaluated to see if there is a quirk in the curriculum, Stephens said.
Of the 515 tested eighth-graders, the scores were: mathematics, 49; reading, 51; English/language, 41; science, 49; and social science, 47.
Of the 344 11th graders, the total basic battery score was 56. The subtest scores were: mathematics, 59; reading, 58; English, 51; science, 60; and social science, 51.
In Salt Lake, the district's students exceeded the national average in all areas and at each grade level, except fifth- and eighth-grade English.
The 2,020 fifth-graders who took the test received a score of 51. The subtest scores were: mathematics, 59; reading, 50; English/language, 45; science, 52; and social science, 51.
Generally, the high-scoring schools tended to be at the top of the prediction band and the low-scoring schools were at the lower end of the band.
Three district elementary schools - Jackson, Franklin and Mountain View - placed below their expected score range, and four - Bonneville, Ensign, Rosslyn Heights and Uintah - were above the expected range.
Some data, as grouped by the state, is misleading. Bennion, Lowell, Riley and Washington have gifted or other districtwide special programs that boosted the schools' overall performance.
The district, on its own, has separated those scores.
The regular school scores and other program scores were: Bennion, 29 for regular program, 93 for Extended Learning Program (gifted); Lowell, 43 for regular program, 97 for ELP; Riley, 35 for regular program, 60 for PACE program; and Washington, 28 for regular program, 56 for Open Classroom program.
Bennion also thinks that the expected ranges for the lower socio-economic areas may need to be separated into rural and urban areas in the future.
The rural areas are more homogenous. "Salt Lake is in an almost unique position with an inner-city environment that other districts don't have. Ogden has a similar environment, but it's not the same," he said.
The 1,657 eighth-graders tested above the state and national average with a total basic battery of 53.
The subtest scores were: mathematics, 53; reading, 55; English/-language, 45; science, 53; and social science, 50.
Two intermediate schools - Bryant and Hillside - scored above their expected range.
Salt Lake students fared best in the 11th-grade tests. The 1,104 tested students scored a total basic battery of 57, which is above the expected range.
The subtest scores were: mathematics, 63; reading, 61; English/-language, 51; science, 60; and social science, 56.
East High was well above its expected range.
Bennion said the West High data is not as clear as it could be if more students had taken the test. While East had 88 percent of its students participate and Highland had 87 percent, only 62 percent of West's 11th-graders took the test. It's important to have similar size samples for comparative results.
"West got started late toward the (test) deadline and didn't have time for make-ups (for those who didn't participate)," the superintendent said.
Both superintendents stressed that, while providing important data on student progress, standardized test scores, especially for a single year, don't tell the whole story on school progress.
"This isn't like the 100-yard dash - the person who gets across the tape first is the absolute winner. What we hope people will understand is that this is only one measure of school success," Stephens said.
They are other measures - report cards, citizenship, end of level tests tied to a specific curriculum, he said.
The Salt Lake and Murray scores for each school's subtests are available at the individual schools or at the district offices.
(National norm 50) Salt Lake School District
School Total Battery Expected Range
Backman 29 26-50
Beacon Heights 62 38-64
Bennion* 44 23-45
Bonneville 82 50-77
Dilworth 64 41-69
Edison 24 22-44
Emerson 55 33-59
Engisn 83 47-74
Franklin 17 19-38
Hawthorne 54 30-55
Highland Park 55 44-70
Indian Hills 81 44-70
Jackson 16 17-37
Lincoln 19 19-38
Lowell* 82 41-68
Meadowlark 40 35-60
Mountain View 24 26-50
Newman 51 35-60
Nibley Park 40 35-60
Parkview 30 21-41
Riley* 37 28-53
Rose Park 43 31-56 Rosslyn Heights 77 47-75
Uintah 76 47-75
Wasatch 59 40-67
Washington* 37 22-44
Whittier 22 19-39
TOTAL FIFTH GRADE
Bryant 63 34-56
Clayton 60 38-60
Glendale 31 21-40
Hillside 65 39-61
Northwest 34 30-51
Salt Lake Community** 7 NA
West ELP* 94 NA
TOTAL EIGHTH GRADE
East 66 33-58
Highland 57 33-58
West 58 33-57
Salt Lake Community** 20 NA
TOTAL ELEVENTH GRADE 57 39-52
MURRAY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Grant 54 47-74
Horizon 55 44-70
Liberty 30 36-62
Longview 70 44-72
McMillan 83 40-67
Parkside 51 37-63
Viewmont 77 45-73
TOTAL FIFTH GRADE 60 47-66
Hillcrest 51 40-63
Riverview 45 44-65
TOTAL EIGHTH GRADE 48 44-61
Murray 57 39-64
Bonneyview** 28 NA
Young Mothers** 30 NA
TOTAL ELEVENTH GRADE
STATE MEDIAN Fifth Grade 53
Eighth Grade 51
Eleventh Grade 53
*Contains gifted or other special program that draws students from across the district.
**Alternative program or school.