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Study: Most Utah students not on track to be college ready

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Posted at 5:54 PM, Aug 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-31 21:21:09-04

Utah Schools are getting better, but there's a lot of room for improvement, that's the bottom line after the release of results for the School Assessment of Growth and Excellence, or SAGE test.

"While we take time to celebrate some gains we are seeing, we're nowhere near where we would like to be," said Rich Nye, Associate Superintendent for Assessment at the State Office of Education.

Test results for 2014-15 show 44% of Utah students are proficient in language arts, 45% are proficient in math and 47% are proficient in science. That's an increase across the board. The 2013-14 numbers were 42%, 39%, and 44% respectively.

SAGE is in it's second year as Utah's primary annual assessment of student readiness. It is called a computer adaptive test, meaning the program adjusts questions to the student's level of understanding, and those questions require answers that are not just multiple choice.

That change in testing method could explain one phenomenon in the results: that elementary school students are getting better proficiency scores on average than high school students.

"We definitely see that scores over time will increase and improve, and that is our goal in all of this. It's to raise student proficiency with the intent to prepare our kids for their college aspirations or careers or anything post-secondary," said Nye.

Nye also remarked on what is called the "achievement gap" separating minority and poor students from their peers.

American Indians, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders all have significantly lower levels of proficiency than their white counterparts, and the same is true for so-called "economically disadvantaged" students.

Data is available for individual public schools from the Utah State Office of Education.