SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — State education officials say teachers need more resources to better work with Utah’s standardized test.
A recent survey of over 4,400 Utah teachers showed two-thirds of educators believe that the SAGE exam process did not help their classrooms. Meanwhile, those who used the results to implement instruction changes were much more likely to find their school is improving with help from the test, the Deseret News reported (http://bit.ly/1Ra2y8Q).
Teachers appear to want more information from colleagues who have successfully used the data in forming instruction plans, according to Rich Nye, the education office’s associate superintendent of data, assessment and accountability.
“What we’re finding in the survey is teachers would like to learn from those who have found success using the data to inform their instruction, meeting students’ needs,” Nye said. “It was less about the assessment and more about how to use the assessment results.”
Educators did express concerns ranging from efficacy to the time spent preparing students.
“I support SAGE in a way that we have to have a test at the end of the year for everyone to take,” said Mohsen Ghaffari, who teaches fifth grade at North Star Elementary School in Salt Lake City. “Do I think it’s as effective as it can be? I have my doubts.”
Nye said the assessment in some ways supports concerns that teachers spend too much time preparing students for SAGE, with 43 percent of respondents in the survey agreeing.
“In other ways, it adds additional information to make better decisions in how we move forward in the future of SAGE,” he added.
Students are preparing for the third year of SAGE testing.
The most recent round of testing results in English language arts, math and science improved on the prior year’s scores.
“We can dump as much data on folks as possible,” said Jo Ellen Shaeffer, assessment director at the state education office. “But then understanding what to do, where to go from there and how to implement strategies that are actually going to improve student achievement and comprehension of our Core standards is really the critical piece.
“That’s really where we need to shore up what we’re doing.”
Schaffer said she was shocked almost 37 percent of teachers surveyed did not use last year’s SAGE data in determining what incoming students’ needs might be.
“It’s really a lost opportunity,” Shaeffer said. “That was really dismaying because we as a state have worked so hard to procure systems that have immediate results.”
Of the majority who did use the data, 78 percent said scores were a valid way to measure teacher efficacy and 84 percent agreed it accurately measured student learning.
Schaeffer called that the “bright side.”