Local schools and districts should implement the "Shift in Focus" program that was endorsed by the Utah State Board of Education several years ago, according to the latest report from the Utah Foundation, a private research organization.

The "Shift in Focus" concept is designed to center on the needs of the individual student and to adapt the education system to best meet those needs rather than requiring all students to adapt themselves rigidly to the existing educational system.The 1990 Utah Legislature enacted legislation that required statewide During the fall of 1990, more than 95,000 Utah students were tested in five basic areas - mathematics, reading, language/English, science and social science.

Utah Foundation analysts indicate that Utah students, as a whole, scored somewhat better than the national norm in mathematics, reading, social science and science. However, they were below the national average in language/English. Some schools and districts have reportedly used these tests as a basis of strengthening their programs in certain areas.

The foundation emphasized that the testing results should not be used as a teacher-evaluation tool. Although it is inevitable that comparisons will be made among school districts and individual schools, the foundation report says it is probably most useful to compare the performance of a particular school or district with itself over a period of time.

Such historical comparisons will not only indicate the strengths and weaknesses of a school or district but will also show the progress or lack of progress made to solve the problems.