The results of last spring’s first-ever computer-adaptive Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) tests were released this week.Today 41.7 percent of Utah students are college and career ready in language arts, 38.7 percent in mathematics and 43.7 percent in science.


 

 

Many were concerned to see these scores. Of course, we all want Utah students to perform better, but Tami Pyfer, education advisor to Gov. Gary Herbert says there are four things you need to know about Utah’s new SAGE test and our student performance:

1. Comparing these new scores to the previous scores is like comparing apples to oranges.

The SAGE tests are much different from the tests students have traditionally taken. Under the new format, the way a student answers one question will determine what the next question will be. The emphasis is on ensuring students have mastered concepts rather than simply testing their ability to regurgitate information.

Though students also took computer-adaptive science assessments, the science standards have not been updated within the past five years as have the language arts and math standards.

2. More accurate assessments of performance are essential to prepare our students to compete in the marketplace.

We need to assess Utah student performance accurately so that students don’t graduate from high school only to find they are unprepared for the rigor of college coursework. If students are ready for college level work when they step on campus, they will save time and money as they work toward college graduation.

3. It is not unusual to have test scores drop when standards are raised.

Spring 2014 marked the first time Utah students took computer-adaptive tests that were based on the more rigorous Utah Core Standards in language arts and math. When Utah last raised the math and science standards a few years ago test scores dropped. However, after the initial drop, test scores steadily increased. We expect the same thing to happen again.

It is important to remember we are establishing a new baseline. Going forward we will have a more accurate understanding of how Utah students are prepared to compete with their competition from other states and from other countries.

4. The test scores show we have a lot of work ahead of us.

Utah has clear, challenging academic goals. Now we have a better understanding of where we are and we can chart a course to get where we want to be.

Utah has wonderful teachers, great parents and community members and education leaders that are going to work together to help us get there.

If you want to see for yourself what a SAGE test looks like or take a practice test, you can visit SAGEportal.org.