Life is about having a marketable skill. Not about teaching a bunch of knowledge
that 95% of people are going to forget in the next 2 years out of high school.
That's how high schools fail. They don't teach marketable skills. Math
is not a marketable skill in hundreds of careers. Neither is the finer points of
english composition. Sure, its all interesting. But you just wasted 4 years of
high school learning theory instead of a marketable skill. 16 year olds should
be well on their way to having a marketable skill BEFORE they graduate. The
lucky ones are the ones who graduate into the family business because parents
taught them a marketable skill.
I believe that this presents clear evidence of parental participation in
education, in Utah and nationally. If parents are not involved, the student is
less involved. In my day, many decades ago, parents were involved only through
the Parents Teachers Association (PTA). Beyond that and one meeting between
parents and teachers once a year, my parents pretty much left it up to others
and me to teach myself, study, get good grades, participate in athletics, school
student associations and school, student boy government, et.al. and, most
importantly, prepare to take these important progress and college
qualification/prep tests.Parents today are more involved where the
family is together and functioning as a unit, with the success of all important
to each.Congratulations to the students, teachers, and parents who
prepare the children for success. Well done.
@ Carman I guess what's really easy is to do what you've
done, try to pass of your assumptions as facts knowing that there's no way
to verify your conjecture.Frankly, unless the ACT now collects data
that it hasn't in the past, I really doubt that ACT takers are asked
whether they live in a two parent home or the income level of their parents.
I'm just amazed at how we can be upset about statistics we don't
really understand.As to the inflated grades, it happens, I'm
sure. Those are the kids that go to school and find out they weren't as
good as mom thought they were, and the should have accepted the grade the
teacher wanted to give them used it as a lesson to work harder next time.
In addition to hiding behind an average ACT score of 20.7...which lets face it,
regardless of the national average, is quite low. I mean, let's see the
scores as they relate to different demographics and from different
socio-economic backgrounds as well as from different college-bound objectives to
see if these scores are really relevant as any type of benchmark. But, in
additional to that, I would suggest that the school administrators stop treating
these students as if they are their parents or church leaders (leave that up to
the actual parents) and hold them more accountable to their performance. You
know, in the same way that an employer would. I think that
principle, along with a STEM focused curriculum that has less art requirement
for graduation, would go a long way in bringing good and talented UT students up
to a comparison level with those they will be competing against on a national
level and in today's modern world.
Furthermore, to continue my comment, when my daughter started school here, she
was told that she needed Financial Lit and two arts classes. This was after she
had completed 5 AP course up through her Jr. year. We had to twist and
manipulate her schedule in order to fit in 2 additional AP courses. I can still
remember the counselor asking us, "do you really want to do that? It is
your Sr. year. Wouldn't you want to relax and enjoy it?"This is the second problem. There is an overall sentiment in this state that
school is too hard and that these kids should have more time for soccer,
baseball, piano, bike riding, etc. I am all for extra-curricular activities,
but they are not as important as a challenging college prep HS school
experience. I have also noted, as "carman" points out, how easy it is
to earn good grades here. I agree that there is way too much extra credit and
make up work offered. Again, this does not help in college preparation.I would suggest that the UT administrators focus more on the real world
and stop pointing toward spurious statistics to tout their so called progress.
I totally agree with all of the comments "carman" has made and find them
quite insightful. We also moved to UT while our kids were in HS, although we
moved from a neighboring state, not from an east coast state, but we also found
the same thing. HS academics in UT are very lacking in their
college/professional preparation efforts. I base this on two areas: 1) The
skewed and irrelevant statistics that are presented (already noted in this
discussion) and 2) I work for a fortune 100 company in their recruiting
organization and I constantly see the preparation and achievements of college
graduates compared to those that come from UT schools. Sorry to say, but for
the most part the Utah students just cannot compete.I think this is
so because of a few different reasons. The curriculum of the UT HS do not
emphasis the STEM disciplines enough. In fact, the curriculum often makes it
difficult to get the adequate number of STEM classes because it is diluted by
requirements like Financial Literature, 2 years of Phys Ed, and 2 years of arts
such as ceramics, drawing, or photography. Why are these course not considered
Carman,15 years of my adult life spent outside of Utah. My children
started their education in WA. I have seen the differences.Your
comparison between ALL taking vs only those who chose to take the ACT is the
perfect example of comparing apples to oranges.38 states do NOT
require all take the test. Comparing our results to their results makes little
sense. Comparing apples to apples – those required to those required,
makes this NOT a feel good story.While I agree we should place less
emphasis on sports, I think they do serve a role. I think more emphasis and
support should go to the arts. Immersion in the arts helps in the development
of the mind, supporting the sciences, math, etc.JD-Dad, You
are correct, 20 is not that great a score. Now take out the scores of those who
did not want to take it and have no intention of going to college, and what is
the average? I think that is a better measure.And you both should
note, I already said I strongly support ore pay for teachers and smaller class
sizes. I have never voted against an education funding tax initiative.
@Fitz: 41 years ago in 1973 the average ACT score was 19.2 when measured on the
modern scale. In 1990 they changed the content of the test and altered the test
scoring a bit. 30+ is excellent. My composite (32 in 2001) was enough to get
college paid for at a private school.
This discussion cracks me up. So many people saying this is great and proves
that we have plenty of money and its about caring parents and great students and
a couple of you even included a congratulations to the teachers. In a couple
of months when the sage scores come out, the same people that are talking about
great kids and great parents who produced these great scores will be berating
teachers for the poor sage scores. And I am sure that Lost in DC will come in
and blame the teachers union for that in some way. I would love
someone to tell me what these test really prove. ACT great scores sage poor
scores, which one is right? Maybe neither. But the most accurate test is the
ACT, because for kids and parents it means something it means entry into college
it can mean college scholarships, there is a value for the test taker. For the
sage test, no value to the test taker, their life doesn't change if the
score 1% or 100%, something that should be considered when looking at test
Our strength is not in schools, it is in families. Our son scored 35 at the age
of 14, and is currently a senior at BYU at the age of 15. Zero use of tax funds
- we home-schooled from the cradle. Math and science discussions at the dinner
table, ambitious goals, the attitude of not believing in artificial man-declared
limits, no video games and other forms of idiotic entertainment, developing a
disciplined brain by training to excel in an endurance sport, and overall the
culture of hard work with proper balance is what I believe contributed to the
To Let's Roll: Unfortunately, the state does not disclose the demographic
data, or I would be happy to. It is easier to hide behind numbers that can be
easily manipulated.To Boo Boo: While your point is valid, scores
could be statistically adjusted for the factors you mention. But the education
community would pick and choose how they present the data so that Utah looks
like it is doing a great job educating our young people, while our results are,
in fact, fairly average (and the bar in the U.S. is not high).I
simply compare the very good schools we saw back east, to some of the better
schools here in Utah (we have lived and sent children to essentially the best
schools in two of the better districts here), and we have found a significant
gap. Others in a similar situation who have moved from great schools back east
have had an experience very similar to ours.My point: rather than
pat ourselves on the back, we should be working hard to do better - much better.
Because in my experience, there is a lot of room for improvement, and little
reason to boast.
@carmanIt's just as misleading to make the demographic
comparison you're suggesting because those two-parent, similar-income,
similar-education scores from most other states are still incomplete and skewed.
You would be comparing ALL of the Utah students from a certain demographic
group with SELECT students from other states who belong to that same
demographic. And the other states' (self-selecting) scores will always be
higher, proving nothing. The most misleading number of the all is
the "national average" score since, as the article states, most of those
students from the 38 others states are college-bound. Perhaps if someone
calculated the average scores of college-bound Utah students, rather than the
average of all Utah high school students, then a useful comparison might be made
with this so-called "national average." And I suspect Utah would be
well above average in that comparison.
@FitzYou apparently ran with the smart kids in HS. I also took the
ACT about 40 years ago and got a composite score of 31, which was in the top 1
or 2% and good enough for a full-tuition 4 year scholarship (Trustees)at the
Y.These days, a significant number of students who take the ACT exam
for use in the college admission process take ACT preparation classes that
include sample exams. Thus comparing the scores in states where all students
take the exam and those where the exam is taken only by students using it for
college admissions purposes really is apples and oranges.Utah
students, teachers and parents should be proud of their #1 ranking.@carmanFeel free to demographically adjust the results, compare
apples to apples and let us know where Utah ranks.
FitzI graduated from HS almost 35 years ago - the average ACT Score
(At least what I was told) was 16.
@jazzer and lost in DCAlthough it is nice to be on top, an average
score of 20 is really not that good. Utah state schools are requiring scores in
the mid to upper 20s for entrance. So an average below the standard set by the
U an USU is,again, not that good. Knowing my daughter just scored a 33 makes
me think of the child on the other end of that spectrum. We need to do better
as a whole. No one should be beating their chest over an average score that low.
It would be interesting to know the first and second standard
deviations? How peaked or flat is that bell curve? And yes, teachers
should be paid more, schools should be bigger or more plentiful so that class
sizes are smaller, and all parents should volunteer some time throughout the
school year. To bad we don't live in a perfect world.
BTW, I don't blame teachers/administrators. They are actually doing well,
all considered. But a state with our demographic profile should be doing
better. Part of the answer may include putting more $ into our schools (for
example, to retain good math/science teachers, and keep them from jumping to
better paying administrative roles, or leaving education entirely), but other
non-money based solutions would also help.For example, expecting
more of our students would help. Grade inflation is a problem. Teachers
inflate grades for many reasons, but the biggest factors are whiny
parents/students. Frankly, its easier to give out a few extra
"A's" and "B's" than it is to deal with constant
badgering from a student/parent. There are also too many second chance tests,
and too much extra credit. All of these encourage sloppy work, poor preparation
and limited time spent mastering material.Another thing we could do
is de-emphasize sports and extracurricular activities relative to 21st century
job preparation, and put more emphasis on critical thinking,
writing/communication, math, statistics and science. Redirecting some resources
to these areas could have a significant impact on the future employability of
To Lost In DC:I in no way have "I hate Utah" glasses on. I
love the state which is why we moved here. But this is a feel good story.
Without adjusting the scores for demographic differences, the comparisons made
in this story are simply apples-to-roast beef comparisons.Compare
students from 1) two parent families, 2) with similar household incomes, and 3)
similar parental education levels and the comparison would be interesting.
Compare children from low income families, with a single parent, with similar
education levels, and the comparison is more reasonable.Our Utah
high school is in a very affluent area, with very little poverty, relatively low
divorce levels, and a very high percentage of parents with college/advanced
degrees. Comparing our scores to other area high schools makes little sense
with adjusting for demographic differences. The same principle applies to Utah
vs other states with large segments of poor, urban students with a much higher
prevalence of single parent households.Many Utahans who have not
lived outside of the state don't realize is how mediocre our schools are.
It is simply a fact, skewed, apples-to-oranges statistics not withstanding.
... NOT surprising!?! I did-MUCH-better on thee-ACT'S-in my high school sr.
yr. than thee SAT'S.The then Chicago-based ACT test was more
well-rounded than the skewed SAT'S from Boston! Only-REAL-"Rocket
Scientists" & Super Nerds could score-WELL-on THEM!?!
Most of the 12 states where all students are tested have a far higher minority
population than Utah, which tends to deflate their scores.Note that
Utah's overall score is now below the national average. In past years, when
Utah didn't test all students and our scores were above the national
average, the State Office of Education emphasized that we were above the
national average. They said very little about the fact that fewer Utah students
were being tested and that the proportion of minority test-takers here was
Well done to all of Utah's students, teachers and parents.Please remember this story the next time the teachers unions tell us the sky
is falling because we don't spend enough money. We spend plenty of money,
get pretty good results and need to work on improving the education process
within current funding levels.The Education establishment may want
to take a close look at what former Governor Mike Pence is doing at Purdue
University. While that is college, not K-12, many of his ideas can be
transferred to improve our schools while cutting costs.
HMMMM?Rhetoric verses reality! Got to love it!!!!!Its
time for some people to stop talkling, stop campaigning and wake up!
While I STRONGLY support increased salaries for our educators and reduced class
sizes, I think this article shows it is not how much you spend, but how you
spend it. It also shows the support for education from many (unfortunately not
all) of our homes.carman,Mediocrity? What part of “best
in the nation” is mediocre? The demographics have nothing to do with
it. Below average?? – when compared to those states where only those
wanting to go to college take the test, but best where ALL students are required
to take the test. Up until a few years ago, the test was discretionary in Utah,
as it still is in 38 states, and we were ABOVE the national average then. This
is not a “feel good” story celebrating mediocrity. Read the article
again without “I hate Utah” glasses on.
If ALL students were utilizing the great (free) resources (on line) of Khan
Academy, scores would be even higher.
re: "but educators point out that where participation is not universal,
college-bound students typically self-select to take the ACT, resulting in a
potentially inflated score."The problem with silly "feel
good" articles like this is that they fail to take into account demographic
differences. Educators are quick to point out factors that justify our below
average performance on the test, but fail to also adjust the numbers for factors
which make Utah's scores look better than they actually are. For example,
show the scores based on demographic segments (income, two-parent households,
etc.) and Utah's numbers don't look so good.We moved here
from back east, moved into one of the so-called top high schools in the state,
and have found the schools here to be mediocre at best. Funding and class size
may have something to do with this. Other factors are clearly at play, however,
Expectations of parents and teachers, the number of children per family that
parents have to keep an eye on, the family resources per child, and other
factors likely impact the performance of our students and schools.Mediocrity should not be celebrated. Demographically adjusted, Utah is just
Instead of demeaning Utah for its per capita expenditures on education, as is
popular in some circles, we should congratulate the schools on using available
@jazzer I graduate from high school 41 years ago. I did take the ACT test.
While I don't remember exactly what my ACT score was, it was 28 give or
take one point. My high school friends, with one exception, got between 30 and
32. The one exception had no intention of going to college, but the ACT test
was mandatory back then. His score was 22 give or take a point. Maybe we had
higher than normal scores, but it appears to me the average ACT score in Utah
over the last 40 years has dropped a long way.From my point of view,
all the changes, modifications, tweaks, and other such things that have gone
into our education system over the last 40 years has severely damaged our
education system. To a certain extent, we need to go backwards to get our kids
better educated going forward.
@fitz Apparently you have not taken the test before. It is very
difficult and a 20 is above average score.
@jed cCould it be that you are trying to see something that
wasn't intended? He seems to be acknowledging and even highlighting the
fact that many more minority kids (statistically lower scores for a variety of
reasons) are taking the test AND Utah does well. Seems he might be celebrating
the fact more are taking the test and their education is improving?If they did in fact bring the scores down as you assert he meant, how is Utah
the highest? Maybe you could provide the statistics that refutes
the assertion you assume? Maybe you could show us the big change in college
enrollment numbers of these minorities?I really don't know what
he meant or not. I also don't know the precise statistics about minority
college enrollment. I'm guessing you don't either.We all
know students and/or student athletes that are the minorities mentioned. We
wish them and any and all future college attendees all the success in the
future.Maybe you should stop assuming the worst.
Mr. Wood, may I suggest you do a little research on this issue. What was the
national and Utah averages of the ACT scores 10, 20, 30, and 40 years ago. It
would seem to me that the averages have gone down, at least from the 40 years
ago time frame. 20 out of 36 is not a very good score.
To Martel Menlove, Martel Menlove (State School Superintendent) Quote in
Deseret News:"What makes this report so significant is that it
includes all Utah students," Menlove said. "The number of Utah Hispanic
students taking the ACT has nearly tripled in the past five years. The number of
Pacific Islander students taking the test has nearly doubled in four years.
These scores represent our school population as a whole, not just those who plan
to attend college."So what the superintendent is implying is
that our Hispanic and Pacific Islander students do not plan on attending
college. This implication is wrong and essentially racist. Many wonderful
Hispanic and Pacific Islander students attend college and are very successful.
You are also implying that they bring our test scores down, which just feeds the
prejudice and misinformed notions of the general public. Who I am sure will
respond with racist remarks to this post.I hope these quotes were
pieced together by the newspaper and not how he intended them to be linked
@Brave Sir RobinWell Said!I also thought that only blue
states valued education and performed well. Two years in a row? This has got
to shatter some liberal sterotypes.
That is AweSome! Congratulations. Excellent work to all.
Wait, I thought if we didn't increase per-pupil funding our ability to
educate our kids was going down the toilet? Could it be that what it's
really about is parents who care and kids who stay out of trouble - not money?
Congratulations to our students! So proud of you!