New standardized tests expected to better measure student understanding

Posted at 6:42 PM, Apr 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-08 12:49:30-04

OGDEN, Utah -- Even though the school year is only 80 percent of the way through, standardized test have already started for a lot of school across the state.

At Shadow Valley Elementary School in Ogden, students’ parents and teachers said they’re ready for the challenge.

“We are a little anxious and nervous because it is a new testing system, and so we don’t know exactly what to expect,” said Donald Mendenhall, who is the principal at Shadow Valley Elementary School.

The new SAGE test will be a big change from how students have taken standardized tests in the past. The testing is all done on a computer, and children won’t be circling “A” “B” “C” or “D.” Instead, the questions force students to interact to find the right answer.

Doni Bateman, a third grade teacher at Shadow Valley Elementary School, said the tests are an improvement.

“I like the rigor of it,” Bateman said. “The old test would just say A, B, C, D, if they just guessed correctly, we never really knew if they did understand it. Where the new SAGE test, they have to drag and answer. I can tell, ‘Did they really understand it?’”

The SAGE test is adaptive – working to test each child based on their ability.

“They increase in difficulty as the students answer questions correctly,” Mendenhall said. “If they get questions wrong, then the questions are easier. They adjust according to how students answer questions.”

Teachers said because the SAGE is much harder than other tests, schools are anticipating year end scores to drop until they get the hang of the change. But some parents said the change is in the best interest for their children.

“I’m glad as a parent,” Danette Pulley said. “I’m glad it’s going to be harder and a little bit a couple of years dip in the score to me is a reason to work harder and better prepare them for what’s ahead of them in their future.”

Parents and students can learn more about SAGE and check out some practice tests by clicking here.

Editor's Note: The testing footage in the above video depicts a practice test, not an actual exam.