John Florez: Utah school boards get an F grade

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • EJM Herriman, UT
    Sept. 17, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    When we do not school district attendance policies we will have failing schools. When 13.5% of our students miss 15%+ of a typical school year explain to me how schools are supposed to succeed? Especially when those same schools are expected to have 95% of their students take the tests required to judge the effectiveness of those schools? Do the math here. You have students taking tests that they are not adequately prepared to take because they have not been attending and as a result the entire school suffers. In fact, teachers take the brunt of the blame unfairly for this.

  • jotab Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 16, 2013 9:30 a.m.

    Why are high schools struggling with math? Class sizes. How difficult do you think it is to teach Algebra to over 40 fifteen-year-old students? Invariably some will fall between the cracks. In the communities where parents can be more involved and have higher educational levels, the kids have more of a chance, in other communities not so much. The school grades were correlated to income level of the communities. Grades by zip code is what this is.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Sept. 15, 2013 1:08 p.m.

    Again, go look at the Northwest Middle School example. Because of federal grants and money, they were able to bring in tutors, aides, technology and support personnel for subjects like math. But I would suppose at West HS, the school where the Northwest students feed that got an F grade, that they are using a similar approach to math curriculum. What is the difference? It could be just more support for the students.

    Still, I would agree that some districts have poor approaches to math. But again, those students coming from affluent backgrounds are still more apt to do better. If they are struggling in math, they are more likely to be able to purchase tutor services or go to places like Sylvan. They are likely to have parents in the home that understand match concepts.

    I think one thing that would help all middle schools, junior high and high schools do better in math would not necessarily be different pedagogy or curriculum but just getting rid of the block schedule. Meeting every other day with students in 90-minute classes dooms them in math.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Sept. 14, 2013 9:32 p.m.


    I don't think that you did your homework. As soon as I learned that Bingham has receive a 'C', and that the primary cause of that grade was a failing grade in math I checked every other large high school on the Wasatch Front. MANY of them failed to teach math properly, if the scores reflects the ability of the students to understand math.

    Why not go to the State web page and look at the schools. There is a trend ad that trend has very little to do with the affluence of the community or the size of the school. Math is the primary subject that caused the most grief to the most schools. Surely those administer the schools realized BEFORE the test, they the students didn't have a clue about math. The problem is systemic.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 8:52 p.m.

    Mike Richards:

    There is no secret recipe of these "A" grade schools. They come from affluent neighborhoods, where most of the families have two parents and value education. Along with that, the primary language of 99% of the students is English. These schools aren't doing anything that radically different than the schools that are failing. I think these schools that are doing well have that old analogy of the rich kid that thought he had hit a triple but was actually born on third base. I suppose teachers and schools must now be held accountable for keeping families together, poverty, and that their students speak English.

    I would say that when the big, bad federal government actually gave one school resources (tutors, aides, technology etc.) that this school (Northwest Middle School in Salt Lake District) got pretty good results despite very difficult demographics. The lesson for the legislature is fund schools better and give dedicated teachers resources, rather than stacking secondary education students in classes of 40 or more, you actually will see results. Go figure...

  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    Sept. 14, 2013 1:54 p.m.

    Peggy Jo Kennett a vocal voice against school grading is a local school board member. The Utah School Boards' Association, who represent ALL local school boards has unanimously said they are opposed to school grading.
    John, I fail to see the purpose of your opinion as it is not accurate.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Sept. 14, 2013 1:42 p.m.

    Look at the math scores. Bingham High School is nearby. It failed in math. Most of the High Schools failed in math. Why? One of my sons was the Sterling Scholar in math at Bingham, so, I know that that school has the ability to teach math.

    SOME of the Charter schools are at the top of the list. Two of my grandsons attended a charter school near Heber. They both love learning. That was not always the case. What made the difference? One of my granddaughters attends a school where they all speak Spanish half of the time. She can read, write and speak both English and Spanish. I can't. I can hardly write a properly constructed sentence in English.

    There are models for us to examine. Those who put on their blinders and those who work for the public schools will continue to tell us that all that they really need is more public school funding. A very sucessful businessman once asked his major supplier, "Why should I throw good dollars after bad when I can buy a better product at a lower cost?"

    The public schools have no answer for that question.

  • RWSmith6 Providence, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 1:35 p.m.

    What really ought to happen is frequent joint convenings in Utah of two groups--School board members from around the state and members of children's advocacy groups--conventions of a sort with speakers who want to address the great weakness in Utah: failure to long-term plan for the ADEQUATE funding of K-12 as school-age population doubles and, eventually, quintuples. The Legislative and Executive branches in the state, controlled for years by Republicans, have refused to do more than year-to-year patch, patch, patch, and the result has been schools failing while the movement for school choice, hijacked by people with ulterior motives, grows.

    With pressure on elected officials from the two groups above--through frequent op-eds and letters, appearances on TV and via radio, etc.--much good can be done. I nominate Flores to get that ball rolling since he has good visibility and name recognition, and I volunteer myself for whatever legwork I can provide. I know of others who would enlist in the good cause, too.

    How about you, will you work for the good cause, too?

  • Homer1 MIDVALE, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 12:44 p.m.

    To further add to our understanding of the factors that affect student and school performance let me add that Midvale Elementary has 54% ELL (that means english language learners) and Quail Hollow has 1% ELL. This idiotic grading system says nothing about the realities of education today. And to think that Quail Hollow is somehow a model for successful instructional techniques that Midvale could finally learn from is insulting. And yet, with all the challenges that we face in education, the best that the Legislature can come up with, after floor debates, committee hearings, expending political capital, after secret caucuses, and last minute manuevering is this ridiculous letter grade?

  • Homer1 MIDVALE, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 12:26 p.m.

    Richards - "There is an easier way. Some schools received an "A" when they were graded. Find out how they were able to get such a high grade. "Teach" the other schools to use a proven method that leads to success."

    Is it really that easy? What does and A or B or C even say? What does an “F” really say? Midvale Elementary has 97% free and reduced lunch so hey, they get an "F". And Quail Hollow has 2% ethnic students and gets an "A". Does this mean that Quail Hollow teachers have it all figured out and are amazing teachers and these hard-working Midvale teachers are failures who can't do their jobs? It would seem to be a ridiculous and spurious comparison to most who can grasp the bigger picture, but our state legislators actually say that under this new system, "failing" schools can look at what "successful" schools are doing so they can finally improve. Meanwhile, all this "improving" will happen without any support, any investment by the state, without any additional effort by the legislature. Ah, the magic of the little letter of shame.

  • Orem Parent Orem, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 11:18 a.m.

    There were a LOT of charters at the bottom of that list. I'm still amazed that the parents don't do a little bit of research before enrolling their kids in a charter school. I have nothing against charters. In fact I think they serve a good purpose here in Utah. The problem is there is a group that thinks charters are inherently better just because they are charters. The near me in Orem scores lower in just about every possible category when compared with the local public elementary. Yet I continue to hear, "my little Johnny won the charter lottery so he gets to enroll in the charter school!" When I then ask if the parents know that the charter receives worse scores on the CRT and on the school grading system they look at me with a blank look. They tell me that can't be right. I give them the website to look it up and then they quickly enroll their kid back in the public school. It amazes me that parents will make a knee jerk decision based on perception instead of reality. These are their kids were talking about! Do a little research.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 10:52 a.m.


    I looked at that list, and I guess if you want to put stock into it, there were quite a few charters on that list of the bottom 50 schools.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Sept. 14, 2013 9:51 a.m.

    The "shame" is that our children are not being educated. This is not some kind of turf battle between the public schools and alternative schools; this is an issue about the fact that our public schools have failed us.

    Mr. Florez pointed out one huge problem. The school boards have allegience to the wrong side. They protect the "status quo". Well, the "status quo" is not working and it hasn't worked for at least one generation.

    How do we fix it?

    If the school board listens to the parents only, then they will have hundreds of thousands of ideas.

    There is an easier way. Some schools received an "A" when they were graded. Find out how they were able to get such a high grade. "Teach" the other schools to use a proven method that leads to success.

    If private schools, home schools and charter schools do a better job, then why are we allowing the public schools to continue to fail? We can easily find out what works and then we can use those methods in all of the schools so that all of the children will get a proper education.

  • Lifelong Republican Orem, UT
    Sept. 14, 2013 9:14 a.m.

    I recently found out who was behind the legislation for the school grading system. Parents for choice in education. Do a little research on them and you will see why they are happy this whole grading system is a mess. They want the public school system to look ridiculous and with this legislation they succeeded.

    It is just a shame that special interest groups think it is morally acceptable to destroy a system that has produced some of the greatest minds of our state. They do so all in the name of special interests instead of the interests of our children.

    Just a shame.