Impact on schools and teachers raises troubling questions
The Legislators in this State of Utah have always had a divide with the State
Office of Education and School Teachers, including the UEA. This has been a
disservice for our children and their teachers. A good teacher does not focus
on himself or herself. Teachers in Utah have been some of the most dedicated to
their vocation of focusing on the needs of the students. They give their all to
the students and very few are self-promoting or looking at their self-interest.
Teaching at any level in the public school system is not a lucrative profession.
Even with a large number students, our teachers look for ways to understand
backgrounds, interests, talents and the needs of the students they teach and
their parents the teachers deal with. With large classroom sizes, these
teachers ask questions and listen carefully and observe what their students say
and do in different situations. The Common Core State of Utah Initiative and
SAGE testing help teachers and administrators know more about the teaching and
needs of students. The Legislature and Office of Education will use
that information so they better understand students they teach and the better
they can help improve lives.
@2nephi32 - You question is a reasonable one, but the reality is you don't
need to see the question, nor the answer to understand if a student has a
problem inverting their b's and d's. Nor do you need to see the
answer to know if a test shows a student has a problem with a particular math
concept, if they repeatedly fail to solve a series of equations. I
do get that it would be nice to have the answers - and questions. And yet for
decades we have had placement test like the ACT and SAT that we don't get
the specifics back to avoid future cheating - that we accept. This is a common
method used for all standardized testing. What needs to be balanced
though is the weight these test have. For example I have a son who is a great
test taker. Because of this he is lazy in the class room. Likewise there are
kids who do well on class work, and their tests don't reflect their
knowledge levels. The weight these test have does need to be visited. They
don't show a complete picture.
"While the new format is intended to give teachers a more detailed picture
of student performance". I just spoke with my daughter's teacher who
informed me that they (the teachers) NEVER see the actual questions and answers
on this test. How are they supposed to help a child in need when the only
information they have is a test score?
Re: The grade inflation comment:Some grade inflation takes place because
parents force the hand of the teachers and insist that their little darling get
a higher grade than deserved. Administrators don't generally back the
teacher, and it's not worth the fight. The teacher loses anyway.Back to the topic: Testing is necessary, but the SAGE is too much and too
hard, especially for special ed, ELL, and support class kids who should
automatically be opted out. For these kids, the test is utter frustration. They
can't even read the questions. Some can be read to them. It is years above
their academic level. Why not volunteer the adults making up these
policies for a PhD level exam in nuclear physics when they haven't even
taken 8th grade physical science?
I see so much misinformation here. Comments as "The writing portion is
graded now by a computer, which, of course, grades by length of the essay as a
whole and by looking for specific or large words" shows the author has no
conception of the text analytics capability available today. I have no way
knowing how Utah implemented the test, but yes, a computer can score spelling,
grammar usage, vocabulary level, sentence structure... it is done every day on
the web, and is how things like google and siri know what your are looking
for.Then you have the blame the teacher thing again with "You
admit that your top students should be getting lower grades, and that the bottom
students should be failing." Redshirt forgot to blame the union too. The
reality is the only reason a teacher would care about how your kid did would be
because of the school grades the state and feds hand out. Both of these
programs (no child left behind) placed large emphasis on school improvement
based on test score results. Teacher have no other motivation to help
johnny/jannie get a grade they don't deserve. It profits them nothing.
"The ever increasing number of people on welfare, food stamps, and
foreclosures, is evidence these standardized tests have not improved
education"Worf.... really? These tests haven't been
around long enough to have been any factor in these people's position in
life. I think you are really connecting dots that have no correlation to each
other. To your comments, can we point to anything that proves we are ahead in
the world..... yes. Most technology and innovation still comes from these
shores. This is not by accident. Overt programs like STEM empower kids to
succeed later in life. Now if kids/parents choose to under achieve and not take
advantage of the opportunities presented them.... you don't get ride of the
testing the points out their deficiencies. At the end of the day regardless of
the game - it is up to the kids to perform.That said, I don't
have a clue about SAGE. Since my kids are not educated in Utah, yet, I have no
way to measure it against what other states are doing. I personally hate
testing. But to try to come up with some kind of subjective measure for
teachers to use... unworkable.
Again!How has standardized testing improved education?Are students better educated today, than the 1950's?
To Nathan Andelin:re: "When political movements on a national
scale conspire with state governments to dictate standards and tests..."Everything is not a grand conspiracy. And there are economies of scale
to developing curriculum, creating and publishing texts (physical or digital),
and developing tests, etc. Also, comparability across states is not only
desirable, but critical. Some education unions want apples-to-oranges
comparisons everywhere so they cannot be held accountable.I think
the fringe far-right has hijacked the education discussion to the point of doing
incredible harm. For core elementary and secondary school subjects, having
baseline standards for curriculum OUTCOMES is a no-brainer. And taking
advantages of economies of scale can drive costs dramatically lower.Math is math, and English is English. Utah would benefit from banding with
others who want high achievement standards to develop curriculum guidelines, as
well as texts and assessment materials. We would also benefit from having
comparable assessments so we can see how we and others are doing
(demographically adjusted of course).We need to get the
fear-mongering and boogeymen out of the discussion, and start having a rational
When political movements on a national scale conspire with state governments to
dictate standards and tests, that leads to a homogenization/nationalism of
education, monopolies in providers of learning materials and fewer choices.An open market with a level playing field ensures a wider selection of
curriculum, learning materials, and tests which are in alignment with competing
I guess I need someone to show me the proper way to interpret SAGE results. I
see the numbers as meaningless. The writing portion is graded now by a computer,
which, of course, grades by length of the essay as a whole and by looking for
specific or large words. Now that makes for some great writing.Kids are
given a score for language, but I have no idea how the test assesses that topic.
10 questions on usage? I am, unfortunately, merely a teacher, one who cannot
be trusted to fairly judge how any of my students are performing on the tasks I
give them -- which tasks may clearly not be rigorous enough, you know.SAGE is an expensive boondoggle meant to line the pockets of people not
involved in the everyday effort of teaching and guiding our children to be great
people who think for themselves.I would urge every single parent in
the state to opt their children out of taking any of the SAGE.
Instead of everyone complaining about SAGE, tell me what is going to replace it?
Offer a solution! Testing is far from perfect, but learning and progress needs
to be measured.If you can't measure what you are doing, then
you can't tell what things work and what doesn't!BTW, I
asked my 6th grader and she has spent 7 hours so far on taking the SAGE tests.
The only reason she has spent so many hours is twice the computer she was using
CJHR:I am a high school teacher. The SAGE is a disaster. My own
children spend their time Taking AP and CE classes. The only wasted energy in
their experience is the SAGE.
Continued from above...Yes, assessment is time consuming and can create
stress. Things of high worth are often time consuming and stressful. Let's
pitch in and support our teachers and schools rather than constantly beating
them down. As for students, my kids love testing because they love the
challenge. Try building a positive culture in your own home, and save the wasted
energy of criticizing necessary aspects of education. Most of you are grossly
The SAGE test has its limitations, but for the most part is a necessary part to
a high functioning educational system. We don't have other assessments that
compare in the areas of reliability, validity, alignment to the
standards/benchmarks, and data output. For those out there fighting assessment,
you really don't have a grasp on modern educational concepts. Please
explain to me how students, teachers, schools, and parents can gain information
about their respective performance without a "standardized" test.
Don't tell me that teachers can do that in their classrooms. With 2 credits
of Statistics 101, you'd understand that creating something reliable and
consistent is not realistic for teachers already tasked with developing high
quality lesson plans, communicating with parents, collaborating with colleagues,
providing feedback to students, grading student work, tracking student progress,
etc. Continued below...
One of many reasons that I support Common Core is that there are curriculum
materials available! In fact, there are actually choices of different materials
that teach the same standards. For at least the thirty years in Utah before
Common Core, it was impossible to purchase text books and other materials that
matched our core standards. We had "uniquely Utah" standards, and since
we are a small state as far as student population goes, we had to purchase texts
that were printed to match the California standards, or the New York, Texas,
Florida, or Pennsylvania standards. Then we were constantly trying to create
materials that would fill in the blanks. It is such a great step forward to
have standards that are consistent with those in other states and to have
available quality instructional materials.
@carmanThere is nothing wrong with standardized testing. However,
the results of any test are only valid if students take the test seriously and
try their best. The length of the test is also a problem. The media center
(computer lab) at the high school where I teach is off limits for a month so
testing can be completed. No other classes can use the computers during this
time. That's way too long.Also, comparing schools "back
east" to schools in Utah is apples and oranges. Utah's spending per
pupil is the lowest in the nation and always will be. Large family sizes hurt
even more. Spending per pupil among east coast schools is among the highest in
the nation. Money doesn't buy a quality education but it sure helps when
districts want to retain quality teachers and provide little things like text
books for every student. Utah is what it is.
I made no suggestion that educators should work for free in my observation that
Common Core and SAGE are commercial activities. Thanks for the feedback.My point is that societies expect competition and choices with respect
to commercial activities; not mandates from governments influenced by those
having national interests.That leads to my next question. Do those
who support Common Core and SAGE have interests in homogenized education
To "jp3" FYI, in Utah most students take the ACT, not the SAT.As for the SAGE testing, you do realize that it wouldn't be necessary if
teachers were not involved in grade inflation. You admit that your top students
should be getting lower grades, and that the bottom students should be failing.
Teachers created the mess, now we have the government coming in to try and fix
it.Now, you want us to believe that SAGE testing actually does any
good? You do realize that parents have to fight to see the results. If the
results were so important, why are they not sent directly to the parents?
To all those who opt out their kids because they think the school resources are
being wasted during SAGE testing are not critical thinkers. The school will tie
up the computer labs as long as the test is given, it doesn't matter if
your particular student does not take it. You are really tying up more
resources since the school needs to track, attend to updating lists, attend to
opting the students out on the statewide system, etc.Since all of
this media blitz about SAGE, many more students are opting out. What that means
is many students took one test, maybe two, and then found out about opting out
and skipped the third test.
Carman,One problem is that students are not held accountable for the
scores. Those scores can't even be made part of the grade. Nor are the
alternative assignments given to students who opt out. The tests
demonstrate nothing. We could predict the SAGE results by looking at ACT
scores. All parents should opt their students out of these silly tests as a
message to the legislature: Fund education adequately. Stop mandating silly
(and expensive) tests which do no real benefit.
There are so many ways SAGE could be used to improve education. If, when the
test ended, we could actually go over the questions with our students, that
would be a great learning tool. Instead, I never even get to see the test or
the questions before or after the test. The teacher is supposed to teach the
core curriculum but the SAGE test often strays from that, especially in science.
To Chancey:re: "Interesting that those opting out are the
parents of the brightest children, and that is making the data collected
worthless."This is just patently false. Our children and all of
their friends that I know of are taking the test, and these are some of the very
best students in the state. Our two oldest children graduated #1 and #3 from
one of the largest/better high schools in the state, and their younger siblings
are similarly good students. Based on ACT scores, these are top 1% students.
Parents of good students know that benchmarking and assessment are critical to
understanding where a child is performing. Fighting against assessment is
fighting against quality education. It's sad that so many are
convinced that having curriculum standards and assessments is somehow a bad
thing (usually couched as big, bad government taking away local control - with
overtones of greedy big business self-interest). Based on what I have seen
since we moved to Utah, local control hasn't done that much good for
students. I have heard from mmany good teachers at our schools that Common Core
English and Math dramatically improved the curriculum. Maybe the professionals
To Nathan Andelin:re: "For those who advocate for Common Core
and SAGE, I'd like to know how many of you make money off it? Paid for
writing SAGE questions? A job in assessments? A job in the State Office of
Education?"Answer: My only interest is as a parent of children
in Utah public schools. Neither I nor any of my friends or relatives benefit in
any way, directly or indirectly, from Common Core or Sage spending. My only
interest is in a great education system in Utah for my children, and someday my
grandchildren.We moved here from back east where the schools were
MUCH better. And I was shocked at the mediocrity in Utah schools, and our
neighborhood schools are some of the best in the state. Teachers, parents and
students all expect less of the education system and what our children should be
learning in school here. We don't even have text books for all of the core
subjects here! And that includes math! And science!Until Utahns
realize that they have a mediocre education system, it will not improve.
I have never given an Iowa Basic Skills Test that was done in one day...and
I've given a lot of them.
Why are we scared all of a sudden by standardized testing? Adults should be
encouraging children to work hard and do their best; when a child sees the
adults arguing like this over whether or not to test or if a child is opted out
of the tests all the child learns is that complaining will get me out of it and
not doing my best won't matter at all. What happens when that child gets
to college? What happens when that child faces tough situations in a career?
No growth during the early ages only stifles potential later in life. Are
teachers worried about test results impacting their careers? Certainly SAGE can improve, it's still very new. But listing its faults
or quitting doesn't do anything to help the current situation. I'm
trained as an educator but work in technology. It has been interesting to me to
see different teachers work with my children...I appreciate those who push my
kids vs those who don't. SAGE testing aims my children at better success
through focused learning AND work!
I totally understand what the teacher means when she said that SAGE testing is
taking 5 weeks. That doesn't mean the actual test takes 5 weeks but the
administration of the test is taking that long. It is totally disruptive at the
jr. high level. The test itself takes 3 class periods per subject. But the
students that are absent are then called out of other classes to make up the
test. The PA system is going off all day calling them down. The school
computer carts are tied up because there aren't enough computers to go
around. Sure there is plenty of teaching going on but during those 5 weeks SAGE
is the focus. it isn't like the old days where we took the IOWA basic
skills test and were done in one day.
"But more critical than the school grade is the opportunity for teachers to
use the data to improve their instruction and conform to student needs,
according to Perschon."The key word here is "conform",
but not to student needs. Teachers have a hard time improving their instruction
when tests like SAGE tie their hands and take up what might otherwise be useful
teaching time.Also, the idea of grading schools by this one measure
is ludicrous. Are we taking into account the backgrounds of students--family,
behavioral and cognitive abilities, poverty, language barriers, whether they
slept well and had breakfast, etc.? Those are very real issues teachers have to
struggle with every day, and giving them and their school a bad grade by the
same criteria as other schools that don't see those problems as much is
Yes, Nathan, there is a commercial involvement. Education itself is a
commercial activity, as are all activities involved with running a civil
society. Do you expect people to teach children, make paper, provide pencils,
sweep the floors, and cook school lunch for just the joy of doing it? Do you
attend to your employment responsibilities without expecting a pay check so you
can support your family? Why would you expect people involved in education to
Can anyone supply evidence that standardized testing has improved education?Has our economy strengthened with a more educated, and prepared work
force? Has it been worth the time and effort? What are the results?
For those who advocate for Common Core and SAGE, I'd like to know how many
of you make money off it? Paid for writing SAGE questions? A job in assessments?
A job in the State Office of Education?Common Core and SAGE are
commercial activities. The State Office of Education is making millions of
dollars selling test questions to other states. It employs a bureaucracy in
Utah.Common Core and SAGE are big business.
Cousineddy and cmsense: I agree with you totally. I have more than 30 years
experience in the elementary classroom. A lot of people are making SAGE out to
be some monster, ready to devour our children. So untrue. It takes a grand
total of 6-8 hours, one hour at a time. This is hardly throwing away five weeks
of instruction. And yes, that time we spend reviewing and prepping for the
test, that is LEARNING time. The bar has been raised significantly by SAGE. The
thing that just blows my mind is that we have been doing standardized testing
for as long as I have been teaching. Why is there suddenly this drama about
testing? Testing is a vital part of education. I'm frustrated that after
40 million dollars invested, not to mention the hours that have been invested by
educators raising our own bar to meet the standards, it will now be thrown out.
Next year or the year after, we'll have something new and we'll start
all over. Ridiculous.
Those who are fighting against benchmark testing are fighting against quality
education. SAGE may not be the best test or means of testing our
children's achievement level, but assessment is needed. Let me quote
President Monson for those on the far-right fringe who may respect his opinion:
"Where performance is measured, performance improves. Where performance is
measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates."We
need to know how our children and our education system are doing. Sabotaging
this process only hurts our education system, and ultimately the children it
My students are taking the SAGE test right now. I don't have a problem
with most of it and think an end of the year cumulative test is a good thing.
What I have a problem with is that students are able to finish in 5 minutes and
not take it serious. There are no repercussions for students that give no
effort. Also, there are way too many parents/students opting out, which are
usually the higher scoring students. Is this a true reflection of my class?
Not even close. So what are we learning? What is the purpose if the data is
not accurate?I wish we could go more towards an Iowa Basics or ACT
style test. Give the same test to every sophomore/junior/senior in the country,
regardless of what math class they are in. That would tell me a whole lot more
as their teacher about how I'm doing than the current situation.
The SAGE test does many important things for students, parents, teachers, and
schools. First and foremost, it sets the beginning bar of rigor for every LA,
math, and science teacher in the state. I have taught for 27 years and I know
first hand that there is a huge discrepancy between what one teacher feels is
rigorous compared to another. With the SAGE test, every teacher now begins the
year knowing first hand the level of rigor required to help students be college
and career ready. Each teacher is somewhat forced to align their assignments
and their formative assessments all throughout the year to that level of rigor.
That alone has made a huge difference to the entire system. We always had
shinning stars in our education field, but there weren't enough shinning
stars to succeed with all students. SAGE has gone along way to hold all
teachers to a high standard. I could give you a bunch more positive things that
have come from the SAGE test, but I would run out of words.
Listening to the SAGE story last night its clear that a lot of students just
aren't stessed out about SAGE and actually support it and think its a good
idea. Its also clear a lot of teachers and people won't
support any standardized test by any name. They don't want to come up with
ways to improve it. The just want to kill it. According to other posters, the
actual sage takes just 3-4 hours per subject. Prep for sage, that time I would
call learning. Our kids are in the middle of SAGE. None are
stressed out. Really at the end of the year its not like kids are pulling to do
more homework. I'm pretty sure learning is slowing down a lot and a test
this time of year helps the learning. For those kids who actually try and want
to learn it is validation that the efforts they put in all year paid off. My
kids have done well so far and as a parent I know that makes my wife feel better
about all the effort she's put in with the kids all year long.
Government of the people, by the people and for the people. Interesting that
those opting out are the parents of the brightest children, and that is making
the data collected worthless. This quiet protest by parents seems to very
effective in getting something government is forcing upon us eliminated. Way to
I don't know about you, but I won't hire anyone claiming to be a
doctor, lawyer or accountant that can't pass the standardized tests for
their profession. I can sleep well knowing that my house wont collapse on me
because the design was reviewed and approved by certified structural engineer
who passed several tests to receive his certification. I want my
kids to be tested. I want my kids to compete. I want to understand how my kids
are performing academically so I can help them where they are falling short and
steer them towards their strengths. I don't know of any other way to do
that than by testing them. Maybe i'll ask my Indian doctor or his Filipino
nurse what they think.
The ever increasing number of people on welfare, food stamps, and foreclosures,
is evidence these standardized tests have not improved education.We
are increasing the number of foreigners, who are filling jobs in America.
Another piece of evidence indicating poor education in our nation.Let's save some time and money, and rid ourselves of these worthless
jp3: It appears that many teachers would like to use those computer labs tied
up for SAGE testing. And don't teachers assess their students all the time
IN their classes? I mean just how much testing and assessing do our students
need to be put through? Is there enough time to actually teach the curriculum?
And jp3, we didn't have nearly the amount of testing as these students, and
guess what, we survived just fine. Right?
As a teacher, I'll admit that there is rampant grade inflation out
there--my 7th grade "A" students should be getting lower grades, and my
"C" students should be failing. A test like this at the end of the year
is beneficial to students and parents because it's an indicator of where
they stand in relation to other students throughout the state instead of relying
on artificially inflated grades.Do you really want to "opt
out" of tests all through school, only to take the SAT, get a low score, and
face the realization that you don't know how to take tests and that you
weren't really as smart as you thought you were? Guess most people lack
grit, determination, and any sort of pride--they take the easy way out and it
Even the young kids are getting fed up with the 5 weeks of testing. One of my
5th grade students asked, "What will happen if I don't really try on
this test?" Even if SAGE goes away for the high school kids,
what about the little kids? They don't need it either.
Let's just pull the plug on these tests already. Any common sense out
slcman:I am a teacher and I do the same thing. All parents should
opt all their children out. Have them read a good book instead.
I've been teaching high school in Utah for 14 years and I proudly opt both
of my children out of SAGE testing every year. It's way too time consuming,
monopolizes limited technological resources, and high school kids don't
take it seriously. Hard to say anything good about it.
We've now been SAGE testing for 5 weeks at the jr. high. I couldn't
use the technology again this week because the kids needed it for testing. So 5
weeks of instruction have now been held hostage by the SAGE testing. Ridiculous. Don't get me started about how bad the SAGE test
is.Then we get the legislature that gives our school a
"grade" based on the SAGE results. A test that they haven't
properly funded. A test that parents see as a fiasco so they check their kids
out of school.Well guess who is behind the whole school
"grade" thing? Do a little research on it. You might be surprised but
probably not. Just follow the money trail.