SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns will get their first glimpse of the state's new school report card on Jan. 3, state education officials told the Utah Board of Education on Friday.
The new report card has no letter grades but employs a dashboard that gauges student achievement and growth, and rates schools as exemplary, commendable, typical, developing and those with critical needs.
Darin Nielsen, assistant state superintendent of student learning, said the new digital report card provides parents "a finer level of detail than they've ever received in Utah on the report card level and the ability to drill down to whatever level they're interested in, or if they just want to look at the landing page and take a look at the basic information."
For example, report cards for schools serving students grades three through eight will have data that reflects a school proficiency in English/language arts, math and science, as well as the school's academic growth in the respective areas.
It also will reflect growth of academic performance of students in the lower quartile of academic achievement and the progress of English language learners.
High school report cards will also include indicators of students' readiness for college or other postsecondary education, school graduation rates, ACT test scores and numbers of students taking advanced courses.
For the next few weeks, school districts, traditional schools and charter schools will review the data prior to public release to help ensure its accuracy before the public rollout next month.
Nielsen said the new report card has been designed so it is easy to navigate, provides detail about content area and displays the results clearly.
"It's important to understand that the development of a report card is an ongoing process. We'll continue to make improvements to that in multiple phases over the coming months and years," he said.
The State School Board voted to do away with letter grades after multiple complaints from constituents that the grades were misleading or failed to provide a complete picture of schools that have lifted the performance of at-risk students.14 comments on this story
While he would not speak for the board or its decision to do away with letter grades, Nielsen said as a parent, educator and state-level administrator, "sometimes an overall school grade doesn't give you enough information. We tend to have meaning attached to overall grades and we make judgments about that that sometimes aren't fair to the schools we're looking at."
The goal of the new report cards is to provide context to parents and other members of the public as they assess the quality of schools, he said.
Once the new report cards go live, they can be accessed at the Utah State Board of Education's Data Gateway along with previous report cards and school testing data.