The Granite Board of Education has authorized spending $308,000 to improve instruction in its schools. The money will be taken from an unexpectedly large surplus in this year's funds.
In action Tuesday night, board members were reluctant to say the money was being used specifically to raise standardized test scores in the district, but the request for money was directly related to the tests.The performance of Granite students in statewide tests last fall has been viewed by some district officials as disappointing. The district's averages were just at or below national norms and slightly below state averages.
Board member Lynn Davidson, who voted against the special-funding allocation, said he believes the test scores were "a fluke . . . an aberration . . . I'm not sure the $308,000 would be spent on anything other than to salve our consciences."
The district's record on national tests had previously been satisfactory, he said, characterizing the 1990 test scores as a "one-year dip." Other board members also were hesitant to indicate that they are overly concerned with the one-time scores, but voted for the additional funding nevertheless.
Granite administrators have expressed considerable concern with the scores, especially in some schools that were well below national norms. The 1990 tests were the first administered statewide in Utah. The Legislature mandated testing at fifth, eighth and 11th grades.
Briant Farnsworth, assistant superintendent for instructional services, told the board each school in the district has completed a plan of action to raise scores. The plans have been compiled into a book.
Among the most frequently listed strategies the schools propose are: improving students' test-taking skills, using outcome-based instructional approaches, analyzing and adapting curriculum to address weak areas, use of computers to enhance learning, enlisting parent volunteers, increasing time on task, emphasizing homework and increasing children's library skills.