Have you ever wondered how your local school compares with other schools in the district, state or the nation? Early this year the Utah State Legislature passed a law requiring a grading scale for each school in the State of Utah. On November 4th, the Utah State School Board passed the process of how a letter grade of A,B,C,D or F will be given. The State School Board said they hope the tool will not punish schools that are falling behind.
Grades will be based on a point system relating to a student growth mode, Core Test, and Direct Writing Assessment. Special accommodations will be given to schools with high poverty rates or non-English speaking students and low graduation rates.
I personally have not seen the grades for the schools in Garfield School District. The State Office of Education has released the distribution of grades for the elementary, middle and high schools. At the elementary and middle school level grades were: 27% A, 49% B, 15% C, 8% D and 1% F. In the high schools the grades were as follows: 17% A, 46% B, 16%C 12% D and 9% F. Grades for all schools will be available to the public in August 2012.
So, what does this mean for the students in Garfield School District? It means more emphasis on the importance of end of level testing. The State Legislature has not determined what will happen to schools who receive failing grades, but I anticipate future legislation to address requirements of change for failing schools.
Along the lines of politics, we had a visit from the Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell and Christine Kearl from the Governor’s office. They visited Garfield School District to find out the unique challenges we face in rural Utah. A parent representative, teacher representative, administrative and District office staff all attended the meeting. I presented information to them relating to student population trends, the unique financial challenges we are facing, teacher certification issues, and student test scores. The Lieutenant Governor was very attentive, asked questions, gave suggestions and expressed his appreciation for everything that is done in Garfield School District to improve a students learning experience.
On a different note, I wanted to pass along a wonderful free online resource for parents and students. If you have ever had a student come home from school and need help with a math problem you might not know how to solve, have them go to http://www.khanacademy.org/ . The Khan Academy has delivered over 85 million lessons covering everything from arithmetic to physics, to finance and history. I would encourage you to use the Kahn academy as resource to help your students understand concepts they are learning in their classroom.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” –Benjamin Franklin
–Superintendent Ben Dalton