ST. GEORGE — The Utah SAGE proficiency scores for the 2017-18 school year were released this month, and while both Washington County and Iron County school districts are above the state average in all tested areas – language arts, math and science – district officials say they would like to see even better results.
The SAGE results for all school districts in Utah have a 45 percent average in language arts, 46.3 percent in math and 47.3 percent in science, according to data released by the Utah State Board of Education.
For Washington County, students achieved a 48.2 proficiency in language arts, 48.5 percent in math and 52.9 percent in science. However, science achievement data for grades 6-8 has not been released yet.
This compares to the 2016-17 school year as follows: 47.9 percent for language arts, 48.5 percent for math and 54.5 percent for science.
Although Washington County SAGE scores are higher than the state average, Brad Ferguson, assessment and research director for the school district, said the district should be making better growth in its achievement scores than it’s currently making.
“We’re headed in the right direction,” Ferguson said. “We just wish we were headed there faster.”
The school district would like to see a 2-3 percent increase in the number of students passing each year, he said.
“If we moved 3 percent a year,” Ferguson said, “that would mean we’d be moving about 400 students to proficiency per year.”
Iron County School District scores also exceeded the state average with a 46.2 percent proficiency in language arts, 47.3 percent in math and 51.5 percent for science.
ICSD officials also agreed that its schools could do better with SAGE scores. Steve Burton, director of elementary education, said its math scores have been “pretty flat” over the past few years.
“There’s not a lot of increase or decrease,” Burton said. “We really are looking into putting together a plan to help see more of an increase in our math.”
Besides math, he said language arts has always been a focus for the school district, as teachers and administrators frequently evaluate where students are in regard to reading and writing.
With this being the last year for SAGE tests, Burton said, the school district hopes to see a 5 percent increase in math proficiency for the 2018-19 school year. However, he said administrators won’t rely solely on SAGE to get that data because SAGE is only an end-of-year assessment.
“It’s good for us to collect data other than that because it may or may not be as accurate as we’d like. We’re focusing more on a growth score, instead of that end score.”
Besides looking at SAGE data, he said the district will evaluate common informative assessments, which are given periodically to guide teachers in their instruction.
In regard to its recent scores, both Ferguson and Burton said the school districts attribute their success with surpassing the state average to the teachers.
“It’s all about the teachers and their focus to what’s important in their instructions,” Ferguson said. “Also, (it helps) that students come pretty prepared to learn.”
With the ending of SAGE, the Utah State Board of Education will debut the Readiness Improvement Success Empowerment assessment for students in third through eighth grades for the 2018-19 school year.
The RISE assessment is a multistage adaptive computer assessment that includes sections on English language art, math, science and writing. Students in grades 9 and 10 will take the Utah Aspire Plus, which is a hybrid of the ACT exam and Utah Core test. Students in 11th grade will continue to take the ACT exam.
For more information on SAGE data for all Utah school districts, click here.
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