Jay Evensen: Utah’s school grades are opportunity for real reform

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  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 7, 2013 11:44 a.m.

    MR EVENSEN. YES, YOU. READ THE COMMENTS. Along with our legislature, Federal Government, where do you get the facts? So called "experts" along with certain witnesses chosen for their party-line positions. WE need input from all (or most) of those in the trenches ( I mean teachers and those parents actively involved with their children's education) along with those others mentioned above. After decades of failure, will we ever learn. Looks like our education must have had its downsides, too.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    Sept. 6, 2013 7:22 p.m.

    There shouldn't be an incentive or punishment for schools until this flawed grading system is improved. As of now, the legislature has done a knock out job in identifying the wealthy and poor neighborhoods and everything in between.

  • steve53 SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Sept. 6, 2013 8:52 a.m.

    The real issue is the grade does not say anything about the school. If you want to know what a school is focusing on, check their school improvement plan. And the results of that plan the next year. Do they have goals that mean something and that they can achieve? If so, are they achieving those goals? But the goals have to be realistic. You don't change graduation rates overnight. You change them one student at a time. When was the last time Jay or a member of the legislature sat in a School Community Council meeting? That is who is supposed to write the School Improvement Plan. West High is a failing school from the grade, but read our plan and see where we are going and where we came from. You will learn that we are about teaching kids, not about a school grade. If we cared only about the grade, why would we fight to keep kids in school rather than ship them out as fast as we can. Every student at West is someone's child. And every student at West deserves the best education. Let us do that.

  • durwood kirby South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 10:14 p.m.

    Utah...home of the unfunded mandate.

  • Winglish Lehi, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 7:07 p.m.

    Equalization might help. I agree that Mr. Evensen's relentless attack against public education grow more tiresome by the day. This one idea, though, might be a good one.

  • RWSmith6 Providence, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 7:06 p.m.

    In Utah, real reform will come when public education is adequately, not inadequately, funded. The state has been so far behind for so long that adequate funding means hundreds of millions of dollars now, not at some as yet unidentified time in the future. Republican control of the executive and legislative branches hasn't produced the needed result over the years, so how can we expect more than penury today or tomorrow?

    Peter Cooke last year said Utah is "the bottom of the bottom" in funding, so is it any wonder we have trouble recruiting the very best and brightest for our K-12 classrooms? Is it any wonder that those who are the most classroom worthy look elsewhere for teaching jobs?

    Only you can change that situation, fellow voter.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 6:09 p.m.

    " . . . here’s the key: This can be so only if the interests involved stop treating each other as enemies and start working together." --Evenson quote

    Okay, so let's stop making teachers the enemy. Let's allow them to make the decisions that are best for their students. Let's treat them as the professionals they are. Until then, I am going to continue to tell Jay Evenson and our state legislators how they are doing their jobs incorrectly. I am going to bombard them with suggestions on how to fix their problems. I don't need to research their career fields. I don't need to consult with professionals. All I need to do is remind them how I feel, because that's all that's important.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 5:54 p.m.

    One question: where is the money for the real reform?

    I noticed that Northwest Middle School in Salt Lake District did extremely well in regards to what you might expect with its demographics. The answer to their success is simply this: RESOURCES! The federal government has given them resources such as tutors, after school programs, aids, technology etc. and guess what, positive results.

    But generally our legislature wants to do education on the cheap and blame administrators and teachers, mostly the latter. Our teachers are overworked and underpaid and certainly under immense pressure. It's time to get off their backs especially if we aren't committed as politicians and citizens to give them the actual resources. The success of Northwest Middle School, the feeder program to West HS, a failing school on this system of grading, is when dedicated teachers actually get some help, they can do a great job and work to change the cycle of poverty and hopelessness that might grip a socio-economically challenged community.

    It's time for our legislature and citizens generally to pony up or shut up!

  • jp3 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 12:14 p.m.

    As a teacher, I'll paint you a picture of my classroom at my "C" school: students sitting on the floor because there isn't enough room for even more desks in an overcrowded space; computers and networks that don't work for myself or my students and a district (Granite) that could care less; state and district mandates of what I can and can't teach devised by non-teachers who have never spent a day in the classroom; kids who overperform on standardized tests (which are complete nonsense, by the way) based on their backgrounds; a teacher (me), who is on the verge of quitting and moving to a state that values teachers and the work I do. Jay, if you want to really make a difference, step into the classroom, my friend. What's that you say? Can't and won't? I didn't think so.

  • FreedomFighter41 Provo, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 11:24 a.m.

    Anyone familiar with this paper knows that it is a very conservative paper. Conservatives have taken the view to attack teachers and view public education, as a villain. Every single week you read some anti-public education piece in one form or another.

    Jay, in particular, has shown extreme contempt for public education. A few years ago, our legislature shoved public vouchers down our throats. It was overturned by the voice of the people. This angered many in our legislation. Howard Stephensen, who owns a lobbyist group, was so angered that he warned public school teachers that they, "Would regret this." Ever since then, the legislature has taken subtle measures to either hurt or discredit public education and/or shove vouchers down our throats again in one form or another.

    This recent "grading" system is exactly that. Is it designed to accurately grade schools? No. Will it provide more funding? Absolutely not. Will it help education? Heavens no.

    What it is designed to do is hurt the public's perception of public education and enable these sharks to make vouchers seem attractive and shove them down our throats once again.

    I don't trust Jay, and neither should you.

  • mcclark Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 9:49 a.m.

    This is just one more way the legislature is trying to void the will of the people. They will not rest until they can put taxpayer money into the private schools the members will create. How about we quit electing folks that are more interested in lining their pockets then helping the citizens of this state. Even if they don't have an R next to their name.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 9:37 a.m.

    When the grader grades himself, an A+ is expected. Especially if money is involved.

    Sept. 5, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    Many, many of the schools that "failed," particularly the high schools did so because not enough students took the test. How can that be counted against the school? Schools cannot very well send the police to round up students and haul them into school on test days or any other day.

  • GochFather Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 8:38 a.m.

    Mr. Evansen calls for radical change in Utah schools because we consistently "consistently ranks in the middle of the pack." However, we manage to do so in spite of the fact that we have the lowest educational funding in the country. Instead of praising the hard work and dedication of our teachers, and the great support of our parents and communities, he would suggest that it's a lack of motivation on the part of our schools to improve. And all that is lacking, is a an embarrassing letter grade to motivate us to do better. Instead of an indictment on teachers and their efforts in schools, this is really an indictment of our legislature and its inability to appropriately fund education. Politicians often complain the teachers whine about needing more money, needing more money, needing more money, but the reality is that voice will continue to be heard as long as the Utah Legislature funds for our children at the lowest levels in the entire country. It boggles the mind that this dynamic continues to surprise our state legislators.

  • squirt Taylorsville, ut
    Sept. 5, 2013 8:38 a.m.

    The DN continually ignore many of my posts but I am going to give it one more try. The DN is supportive of the continual slamming of our public schools, vouchers, and those who like Mr. Evensen paint the picture of schools with negativity and a broad brush. They offer "solutions" based on rhetoric and failures.

    I wonder if the DN will look at the responses they have received on comment boards and wake up to the absolute travesty being created by this law.

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 8:07 a.m.

    Evensen applauds the Florida improvement but fails to note that Florida invested significantly to help bring schools with poor grades up to a higher level. Utah's grade program puts ZERO dollars into helping bring about improvement.

  • Homer1 MIDVALE, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 1:56 a.m.

    The other odd thing about this "grading system" that is creating confusion with the public is the idea of a statistical bell curve. It's the idea that no matter the percentage, a certain amount of schools will receive an "F" and again a certain amount of schools will receive an "A". So even if a school works hard with the students they have and make marked improvements, it may not be as successful in statistical comparisons with other schools. maybe the legislature wants to make sure there are always some failing schools with this system, despite obvious improvements and recorded student growth. Every school could show student growth but some would still have to be marked as "failing". That is like saying that out of all the amazing well-trained runners at an Olympic Marathon, we must as an audience look at the ones who didn't place on the medal stand and point fingers of shame at them for being "losers", because hey, you didn't win.

  • Homer1 MIDVALE, UT
    Sept. 5, 2013 1:49 a.m.

    " . . . here’s the key: This can be so only if the interests involved stop treating each other as enemies and start working together." --Evenson quote

    This what you say but then you began your article framing today's reactions as the "education monopoly" making "excuses" as these grades have "knocked them out of their comfort zone". Do you think that your smug disrespect for the dedicated work of tens of thousands of teachers in individual classrooms all over the state is helpful either?

    When a school like Quail Hollow with 98% white student body gets an "A" and a school like Midvale Elementary with 97% free and reduced lunch gets an "F", a comparison which on it's face is inaccurate and useless, you're going to dismiss as the whining of a threatened monopoly any questions about this grading system? Would you really suggest having those "successful" teachers go down to Midvale and help those "failing" teacher finally get the right technique in place? That's the solution, some magic formula that some "failing" teachers just haven't been able to grasp? That is what is so offensive to actual teachers in actual classrooms.