Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

December 4, 2012
New state system rates schools on performance

Tooele County Schools can be found at the top and bottom of the new Utah Comprehensive Accountability System, which rates public schools by academic performance.

The Utah State Office of Education released UCAS scores on Friday. UCAS replaces the federal Adequate Yearly Progress Report and the state UPASS scoring system under a federal waiver for the AYP portion of the No Child Left Behind Act.

“It’s great that we in Utah now have one fair, equitable accountability system for student progress, and it’s one that honors not just proficiency but student growth to account for all the hard work of Utah’s students, teachers and parents,” said John Jesse, assessment and accountability director for the Utah State Office of Education. “Parents will be able to get in and see how their child’s school is performing in one place.”

The new system replaces the yes-or-no portion of the federal AYP report with a numerical score that is derived from measurements of study achievement and growth.

UCAS takes into account scores on core tests in all math, science, and language arts areas where the AYP results were based on only math and language arts in third through eighth grade and 10th-grade English and elementary algebra at the high school level, according to Terry Linares, Tooele County School District superintendent.

“This is a new measurement with a new baseline,” said Linares. “The scores point out the need to help students that are below proficiency to become proficient while maintaining growth in students that are already proficient.”

Out of 23 district schools that received a UCAS score, 10 were above the state average and 13 were below the state average.

For high schools, which were rated on a 600-point scale, the district average was 423 compared to a state average of 398.

Three Tooele County high schools scored above average, led by 78-student Dugway High School with a score of 554 — second-best in the entire state. Wendover High School with 450 and Tooele High School with 437 were also above the state average.

Clarke Johnsen and Grantsville junior high schools, along with Stansbury, Overlake, East and Vernon elementary schools, all scored above the state average of 435 for elementary and junior high schools. The district average was 402.

Charter schools, which are also publicly funded, were given a UCAS score. Excelsior Academy in Erda scored 487 — a score that ranked it second among elementary schools in the county.

Two schools in the state, Fox Hills Magnet School and Morningside Magnet School — small elementary schools in the Granite School District — scored a perfect 600 points.

Under UCAS each school receives a score of up to 600 points, with 300 points based on student achievement as measured by core tests in science, math and language arts, with 300 points based on student growth.

For elementary and junior high schools, 43 of the student achievement points are based on the direct writing assessment, while performance on language arts, math, and science core tests weigh in with 86 points possible for each. The amount of points for each area is determined by multiplying the number of possible points by the percent of students testing at or above proficiency.

In high schools, language arts, math and science each have a total possible of 50 points and 150 points is awarded according to the school’s graduation rate.

Student growth is measured by comparing the performance of individual students with the performance of other students who performed at the same level in the past on core tests.

While 300 total points are based on the student growth profile, 200 of those are earned based on the growth of all students in the school while 100 points are allocated to the growth rate for students that are below the proficiency level.

A complete report by school showing the breakdown of points earned and demographic data for each school can be fund at the Utah State Office of Education website, www.schools.utah.gov, by clicking on the public school data gateway.

Tim Gillie

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Tim covers education, Tooele City government, business, real estate, politics and the state Legislature. He became a journalist after a long career as an executive with the Boy Scouts of America. Tim is a native of Washington state and a graduate of Central Washington University.

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