SAGE exam scores show boost in science, lowering of opt-out rates
Students throughout the state took the statewide SAGE test for the final time last school year, and the recently announced results had some positive surprises.
The majority of the scores for the Park City School District and the individual scores were consistent with previous years, but the science scores shot up, said Andrew Frink, director of technology and assessment for the district. Trailside Elementary School rose from 61 percent proficiency to 76 percent in science, and Parley’s Park Elementary School jumped from 51 percent to 63 percent. Jeremy Ranch Elementary School scored the highest in the subject with 81 percent proficiency, a 1 percent increase.
Overall, the district rose from 53 percent proficiency in science to 60 percent, but Frink said that does not include the scores of students in grades six, seven and eight, since their end-of-year test was different. Those scores are expected to be released later this fall.
Frink said the scores in language arts and math did not fluctuate much from previous years. The district’s overall proficiency for both subjects was 52 percent.
Frink said another success was at Treasure Mountain Junior High, where, based on preliminary calculations, opt-out rates were about half of last year’s 26 percent. The final opt-out rates for all schools are not available yet.
“Principal (Emily) Sutherland and their (parent-teacher organization) did a lot of work to get information to the parents and the students, and it looks like it took effect,” he said.
The school’s math score was up from 33 to 41 percent, and language arts proficiency increased from 34 percent to 43 percent, which Frink said might have been partly because more students were taking the test. District officials have said in the past that high opt-out rates negatively affect the schools’ scores.
In previous years, the district has had some of the highest opt-out rates for the SAGE exam in the state, up to 47 percent at Park City High School.
The SAGE scores are typically used to calculate school grades, which are given by the Utah State Board of Education. But the Board decided this year not to assign grades, and Frink said he is glad.
“I don’t think (the grades) give much information to our parents or community as to how our schools are doing,” he said. “We’ve never felt those letter grades to be particularly representative of the quality of our schools.”
Last year, Treasure Mountain Junior High was given an “F” grade because of its low SAGE scores and high opt-out rates.
The state will be replacing the SAGE exam with the RISE test for grades three through eight and with the Utah Aspire test for ninth and 10th grades. Frink said he hopes the test will have more support from parents and community members and that he intends to begin educating the public about the new tests soon.
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