Guest column: Utah issues letter grades to public schools

(Association of American Educators)

During the 2013 legislative season, the state of Utah passed SB721 in an effort to foster a culture of transparency in public schools. Similar to bills in 15 other states, the new law measures various sources and awards an easy-to-understand letter grade to all public schools. According to a report, 55 percent of Utah’s 855 public schools earned either an A or a B grade. Just 14 percent of schools earned a D or an F.

Grades were based on a combination of student growth and student performance on criterion-referenced tests in language arts, math, and science. High schools were judged, in part, on the additional standard of graduation rates. Schools were also asked to test at least 95 percent of all their students and 95 percent of their underperforming students.

Education reform experts agree that the new system will be effective. “With the clear results from an A-F grading program, Utah is placing a strong focus on student performance. Parents and students are finally getting the clarity they deserve. We applaud Utah for recognizing both achievement and growth,” said Patricia Levesque, chief executive officer of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.

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