Standardized tests would impact Utah students’ grades, advancement under proposed bill

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SALT LAKE CITY -- SAGE, Utah's standardized test, is sparking more concern as a proposed bill is making its way through this legislative session.

HB0164 makes amendments to state standardized testing that would make it so test results could impact grades and also determine if a student moves to the next grade. It also puts restrictions on what parents can opt children out of, and it also allows educators to provide incentives for students taking the test.

"I feel like it's unfair. It's unfair to students, and it's unfair to teachers," said Heather Gardner, a mother of five, who opposes the proposed changes.

"Parents have the primary right and responsibility for the education, care and custody of their children, and the state should be secondary in that role, and I feel like this bill is essentially reversing that," Gardner said.

Gardner started homeschooling her kids this year largely due to concerns about the standardized tests. Now, she said she's worried how this proposed bill will affect teachers, parents and, more importantly, students.

"As it stands right now they could prevent a student from moving on to the next grade and dock points for not participating in the portal or taking the test," Gardner said.

The bill reads in part: "Assessments may be considered in determining a students academic grade or whether a student may advance to the next grade level."

But that's an amendment the bill's chief sponsor, Representative Kraig Powell, says teachers are asking for.

"It's simply telling the student, 'If you do well on this test that you're going to get a good grade.' I think that's normal practices," Powell said.

The bill would also amend provisions related to a parents or guardians' right to excuse a student from taking certain assessments.

"The problem is 90-95 percent are taking the test, and what we don't want to do is have the small portion of parents who opt out of the test prevent the students from taking the test, from actually learning and mastering the material," Powell said.

Powell says it would mean parents can opt children out of the end of year test, but not out of all SAGE preparations done on the computer.

But Gardner argues that's not up to lawmakers to decide.

"This is a parents right to opt their student out of testing, so what you're doing is pitting students against teachers and parents," Gardner said.

The bill is likely to go to the education committee in the next couple weeks.

You can read the full bill by clicking here.

3 comments

  • Christy

    My children have already been in tears over the stress of standardized testing because they already stress the school system. The only comfort I could offer was that it was not connected to their grades in any way–just a reflection of how the school is doing. To connect them to grades would cause an unheard of level of stress in school! Let’s not let this happen! Standardized testing is already hard enough!

  • Amy

    If a test is going to be used to make critical decisions like grade advancement, it darn well better be a test that has gone through the recognized and accepted process of determining reliability and validity. The SAGE tests have gone through no such process! Really, decisions about grade advancement are most appropriately made jointly by local administrators, teachers, and the parents who know the students best.

  • Momma Bear Rising

    The only reason the teachers are asking for this is BECAUSE The students haven’t taken it seriously for the last three years and either do the parents NOR should they!!! SAGE is the most horribly invasive, manipulative, and extremely detrimental test ever required of children. To have teachers and schools judged by this monstrosity is so completely unfair, especially since much of it is controversial. I pulled my kids out the first year because of some of the “practice” questions they were telling me about. I was FURIOUS and I’m more so now than ever. Everyone of the teachers in my son’s high school THANKED ME and cheered me on when I told them I was opting him out this year. The principal told me how much he hates it. So THAT is why Kraig Powell they are “asking” for this requirement of students because then maybe, maybe, their livlihoods and school funding won’t be hurt so much by the outcomes. However, they know darn well the test is horribly flawed, created purposely for a higher failure rate (Oh you thought that first year of state wide poor testing results was the teachers fault did you?) than any other standardized test, and hurts them because children are stressed out by it and won’t take it seriously. It’s none of the state testers damn business what my daughter thinks of a muslim girl and her mother new to this country. And why ask for her opinion on the story if all you are giving her is multiple choice questions, none of which shared her opinion, to choose from? This is a GARBAGE test with GARBAGE Common Core Math Concepts for younger children to worry over. STOP THIS MADNESS and the MILLIONS of dollars going into this testing NOW!!

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