Legislative Letter: Support continued investment in SAGE and SGP

Utah policymakers and stakeholders should support for the SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence) and the resulting SGP (student growth percentile) for the following reasons:

  • Student Growth Percentile is the best metric we have in Utah public education. An SGP, and resulting MGP (median growth percentile) is a simple and informative metric. It helps teachers monitor the effectiveness of their own instruction, helps districts monitor effectiveness of schools, teachers, and programs, and helps make comparisons across the state. (Student Growth Percentiles 101 from RAND http://www.rand.org/education/projects/measuring-teacher-effectiveness/student-growth-percentiles.html)
  • We have avoided the pitfalls of PARCC and value-added models. Instead of a nationalized test such as PARCC from Pearson, Utah uses an adaptive assessment built to Utah standards. That allows Utah to work closely with American Institutes for Research to continue tailoring the assessment, which is ideal.
  • Effective implementation takes time and patience. The SGP and the adaptive version of SAGE have not been around long enough to be consistently integrated into public education culture and decision-making. Education administrators need time to integrate this data into our information systems, educate teachers and stakeholders, and develop effective analysis and reporting protocols.
Ideally, we should use SAGE and student growth metrics through an entire 3rd-12th grade cohort (from 2013-2014 to 2021-2022). Consistent data over a long time is necessary for optimizing our public education system and such longitudinal data would be a first.
There are additional ways to support SAGE and SGP beyond the issue of funding.
  • Avoid inconsistent or contradictory policies. I am especially concerned with any legislative attempts to exempt certain public schools or classrooms from evaluation models. We should monitor student growth across the board.
  • Be cautious in attaching incentives to this assessment and metric. Educators have internal incentive to help students succeed, and rewarding or punishing based on metrics may undermine that. SGP is an informative metric, but not a decisive one.
  • Find out the assessment scores and growth metrics for the schools in your area (USOE’s Data Gateway can help). Compare percent proficient on SAGE to the Median Growth Percentile. It’s especially helpful to view the schools in four quadrants:
    • High growth, high proficiency. We’d all like to be here.
    • High growth, low proficiency. The students started and ended with lower proficiency scores, but showed above-average improvement. In these schools, low proficiency scores may be masking high growth.
    • Low growth, high proficiency. The students started and ended with high proficiency scores, but showed below-average growth. In these schools, high proficiency scores may be masking low growth.
    • Low growth, low proficiency. No one wants to be in this quadrant, but this result should spark thoughtful conversation and decision-marking about how to improve.
We have a successful assessment and metric. The SAGE test and SGP metric are meeting our initial expectations. Let’s stick with them. Utah public education has made strides in increasing graduation rates, decreasing achievement gaps, improving early literacy, etc. We have the methods and data to do more given time.
Legislative Letter 1: SB 204 and grading policy
Legislative Letters: be sure to communicate with policymakers about what you know.