Governor Herbert

On May 13th, Governor Herbert discussed his proposed changes to the SAGE assessments and the Utah Common Core.  Governor Herbert recently presented the Utah State School Board with a formal request to repeal SAGE testing in the secondary schools and develop new curriculum standards which represent Utah.  A motion was made by Utah State School Board member Dave Thomas to begin the process of rulemaking to remove SAGE testing from 9th-12th grades and replace it with the ACT test contingent upon legislative approval to change the current statutes.  The motion passed with only 4 voting in opposition.  We will now wait to see if Utah Legislature will approve the recommendation by the Utah State Office of Education.  Please understand, the SAGE testing will remain in place for the 3rd– 8th grade students unless statutes are changed at the legislative level.

A second motion was also made by Dave Thomas to have the USOE begin a comprehensive revision of the K-5 English language arts, 6-12 English language arts, K-5 mathematics (which was just revised in 2016), 6th-8th grade math, and all high school mathematics teaching standards pending a one-time supplemental budget approbation from Utah Legislature for the review.  The motion passed with only two no votes.  Please know, I have paraphrased the two motions and voting totals.

SAGE was originally created to track student’s growth in the classroom and has since been connected to school letter grades, performance based pay, and other school accountability models.  SAGE tracks students growth very well and when used for its intended purpose is beneficial to provide feedback to parents on the student’s academic progress.   The problems arise when the SAGE test is used for unintended purposes that it was not designed to do.  Additionally, the last number I heard tied to the development of SAGE was approximately $20 million dollars of state taxpayer’s money and to just remove it from the secondary testing options available to districts is problematic.  If parents do not want their students tested, they can choose to opt-out of the testing but we lose the ability to follow the student’s academic growth in the educational system. I respect the parent’s decision to opt-out of SAGE but removing the testing platform from all of the secondary grades and replacing it with the ACT may not produce a better alternative.

Ben Dalton


Garfield School District

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