Nearly two-thirds of Tooele County Schools are below average in performance compared to other Utah schools, according to Utah Comprehensive Accountability System scores released last week by the Utah State Office of Education.
“Sixteen of our 25 schools are below state average,” said Superintendent Scott Rogers of the Tooele County School District. “This is simply not good enough. For me, this is an urgent priority. We can and will do better.”
Only six of the district’s 18 elementary and junior high schools scored above the state average of 434 UCAS points. Stansbury Elementary School had the highest score in the district with 493 points.
Excelsior Academy, a publicly funded charter school in Erda, received a UCAS score of 501. It is the highest UCAS scored school in the county.
The average score for the school district’s elementary and junior high schools did show a slight increase over last year. In 2013 the average score was 404, two points above the 2012 average of 402.
Settlement Canyon Elementary had the largest improvement. The UCAS score for Settlement Canyon jumped from 323 in 2012 to 419 in 2013 for a 30 percent increase.
Of the county’s five traditional high schools, only one scored higher than the state average. Dugway High School scored 469 points on UCAS compared to the 434 point state average for high schools.
Overall, the average for TCSD high schools dropped from 423 UCAS points in 2012 to 354 in 2013. The state average for high schools grew from 398 in 2912 to 417 in 2013.
In response, Rogers’ academic plan for the district includes strategies to boost student performance and increase test scores.
“The reports show that we need vast improvements in ‘Tier I’ instruction, baseline instruction for all students, as well as targeted interventions for struggling students,” he said. ”It is time for change in the status quo and some real improvement. We must focus on data-based best practices.”
He added, “We are in the process of implementing a district-wide data protocol to help us analyze achievement data at the school, classroom, and individual student levels.”
Under UCAS each school receives a score of up to 600 points, with 300 points based on student achievement. That achievement is measured by core tests in science, math and language arts. The other 300 points are based on student growth.
In elementary and junior high schools the achievement points are based on the percentage of students that score at or above proficiency on core tests.
At the high school level, 150 points are awarded based on core test performance while the other 150 points are awarded based on 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 and 100 points are allocated to the growth rate for students that are below the proficiency level.
In September, the Utah State Office of Education also released letter grades for schools across Utah.
The six schools in Tooele County that scored above average on UCAS, along with Tooele Junior High School, which was 11 points below average on UCAS, were the highest graded schools in the district. They each received a “B” on the school grading report.
The letter grades were developed by USOE in response to legislation passed in 2013. UCAS scores were first released in the fall of 2012 as a result of legislation that passed in 2011.
The two systems are similar because they are both based on core test scores and include in their measurement points both student proficiency and growth.
They differ, however, in how points for growth are calculated. In UCAS, points are awarded to schools for all students that show growth compared to their academic peers. The new school grading system only awards growth points for students that reach a pre-determined level of growth.
School grades award a letter grade based on the percentage of total points earned. The UCAS score is the total points earned by the school.
A complete report showing the breakdown of points earned and demographic data for each school can be found at www.schools.utah.gov and by clicking on the public school data gateway.