With school back in session, it is time for the first report cards to be sent to parents. The grades, however, will not be for students but, under a recent state law, be for the schools students attend.
The law requiring schools to be graded on a scale of A to F was proposed in 2011 by the now President of the Senate, Wayne Niederhauser.
While the law was being debated in a committee hearing two years ago, Niederhauser noted that the system was based on a similar grading system in Florida. During public disucssion, the bill recieved strong support from varous school administators as well as the Utah Education Association.
Sue Carey, a Florida transplant, however, raised a red flag on the bill.
“The Florida model included lots of money to improve failing schools,” Carey told the committee, “we are talking about implementing a small, punitive, aspect of the Florida system [without considering the whole Florida law].
“It was very divisive,” Carey went on to state, noting that her child’s school in Florida received a C grade, due in large part to the low socioeconomic status of most of the parrents in the schools boundaries and the transitory nature of the population in the area. Kerry stated that these factors resulted in test scores that didn’t truly represented the quality of the school.
The law will grade schools based on the average students proficiency in language, math, and science. The grades will also reflect average student growth from the start to the end of the school year.
The law further requires that 95 percent of the student body participate in end of year testing – failure to reach this threshold results in an automatic F grade, again raising concerns that transitory or low-income student bodies will drive down a schools score.
Of Utah’s 143 high schools, 16 received failing scores, likewise, of the state’s 713 elementary and junior high schools, 15 received a grade of F.
The 16 high schools on the list were:
Summit – Alpine
Cache Alternative – Cache
Viewmont – Davis
Mountain – Davis
Kearns – Granite
Granite Peaks – Granite
Mountain Valley – San Juan
Blue Peak – Tooele
Millcreek – Washington
West – Salt Lake
Horizonte – Salt Lake
Ben Lomond – Ogden
George Washington – Ogden
Independence – Provo
Uinta River – Uinta River
Utah Virtual Academy – (Online)