Utah school report cards show As hard to come by due to new grading system

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SALT LAKE CITY – The State Board of Education released report cards for Utah public schools and the number of failing schools is up.
The grades are in when it comes to how Utah school districts performed last year, and it looks like A grades were hard to come by.

Overall, 45 fewer schools earned A grades. A total of 44 schools earned either a D or F. Grades are linked to SAGE test results, high school graduation rates and ACT scores.

What’s behind the significant drop in grades? Lawmakers recently changed the grading criteria, raising the bar for letter grades. Essentially, making it tougher for schools to earn high marks.

“We are seeing schools that have done better and who are getting a worse grade for it,” said Mark Peterson, spokesperson for the Utah State Board of Education.

The Tooele County School District falls into that category. While 10 of their schools improved their test scores, only four bumped up their grades.

“Tooele County School District is quite proud of the achievement of our students at schools, and perhaps somewhat disappointed that increased test scores and student growth were not necessarily reflected in the published letter grades,” said Debra Bushek, Tooele School District Director of Curriculum & Assessment.

Peterson said it’s important to acknowledge the progress made so far.

“We’re raising the bar and expecting more from our students, I think is fair, but we also need to acknowledge they are doing better generally,” Peterson said.

Although some are frustrated with the new metric, state educators encourage parents to look beyond the single grade and focus on their child’s individual needs.

“If I’m a parent, what I want to do is check with the teacher at the first parent teacher conference that you have and go over last year’s test scores and make sure that progress is being made,”  Peterson said.

If you would like to check individual schools, click here.