School Grading Working Group Update (01/16/14)

Tami Pyfer - Utah State Board of Education, Chair -attending the School Grading Working Group

Tami Pyfer – Utah State Board of Education, Chair -attending the School Grading Working Group

The manner and results of our new school grading system does not match the legislative intent. This is one of the things I learned this past Thursday, while participating in the school grading working group chaired by Senator Stuart Adams (Senate sponsor of SB 271 School Grading Amendments [2013]).

I was particularly intrigued with the presentation by Frank Anderson of Timpanogos Academy. Mr. Anderson demonstrated that the current manner in which school grades are calculated, utilizing the “complex Algorithym” from “R” program has a flaw that does not accurately reflect a school’s ability to move “low performing students forward”. This in turn, skews the proficiency data and artificially drops the overall scores of a school. The discussion then turned to a static or more normative approach in school grading. There was a commitment from USOE to follow up with evidence that he presented.

Here is a link to his PowerPoint presentation:

Anderson Presentation

We also agreed to forward the following recommendations to the legislature:

  • Define High School as a school that includes grade 12 and does not include any grade lower than 7; or grades 9 through 12 of a combination school.
  • A school that is designated as an alternative school will be exempt from school grading
  • The State Board will assign two grades to combination schools
  • A school will not be graded on writing as indicated in the original bill
  • College ready will be determined by ACT scores (how subjects are weighted is still unresolved)
  • If a school does not have 95% of its students for testing, it will drop a letter grade as opposed to an automatic F.


Other ideas I am proposing:

  • Two letter grades for all schools: #1 Overall Grade #2Grade based on student growth. Or some other way to measure student growth within a school.
  • The state will provide funding for additional FTE for an Elementary School that receives an F letter grade.  The FTE will be in the subject or subjects that the school needs help in. The FTE can then rotate through out the classrooms when that particular subject is being taught.

Link to an op-ed I wrote some months ago, stating my position on school grading:

Clara: Educators’ Pessimism Doesn’t Help Students (Tribune)

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