SAGE scores don’t paint accurate picture of the success of PCSD schools

The Utah State Board of Education released the 2016-17 Accountability Reports for local school districts this afternoon, Sept. 25. The report’s findings are based on scores from the SAGE test (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence). Required by Utah law, the end-of-level test is given to students in language arts, mathematics and science. Data from student scores are used to calculate school grading reports in accordance with Utah law.

Because Park City School District has the highest opt-out rate in the state, the district does not use SAGE as a measure of student learning beyond fifth grade. Utah law allows parents to opt their students out of SAGE. PCSD’s overall opt-out rate in 2017 was 21%.

Park City High School has the highest opt-out rate of 47% compared to 38% the previous year.  At Treasure Mountain Junior High the 2017 opt-out rate was 26% (an increase of 2% from the previous year), and at Ecker Hill Middle School the opt out rate in 2017 was 26% (an increase of 8% from the previous year). The opt-out rates at the elementary schools were relatively unchanged from year to year (anywhere from a 2-6% opt-out rates in 2017).

District officials caution parents about putting too much emphasis on the state school grading reports. The SAGE is only one measure of student performance, and since so many students in PCSD opt-out from the test, the report is skewed.

One of the district’s best indicators of student success is its 97% graduation rate, by far the highest in the state, and one of the best rates in the nation. PCSD’s elementary schools are award-winning. Park City students out-perform the state average on Advanced Placement tests, the ACT, and graduation rate. Students performance on SAGE is not an accurate picture of how our students achieve.

PCSD uses Galileo K-12 Online Instructional Improvement and Instructional Effectiveness System, a comprehensive, standards-based, and research supported assessment that tests students at the beginning of the year, mid-year, and the end of year.  Galileo tests are required for all students in PCSD. Unlike SAGE, Galileo technology offers teachers rapid and flexible access which in turn drives student learning throughout the year. Additionally, 8th grade math as measured by Galileo has improved from 53% in 2015, and to 72% in 2017.  See the measurable goals set by the district to see the comparison of Galileo and SAGE.

As the opt-out rate continues to grow, the State Board of Education is currently exploring replacements for testing secondary students, which includes the pre-ACT in 9th and 10th grade rather than SAGE. Park City School District supports this change in assessment.



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