Legislative Letter: Using SAGE assessments as part of grading, promotion

In 2014, the Parental Rights in Education bill was passed and was updated in 2015.

The bill covers many areas, but one change between 2014-2015 is problematic for Utah teachers and administrators.

Utah Code Section 53A-1-603.4.f was altered as follows

90     (f) providing that scores on the tests and assessments required under Subsection (2)(a)
91     and Subsection (3) [shallmay not be considered in determining:
92     (i) a student’s academic grade for the appropriate course [and]; or

93     (ii) whether a student [shallmay advance to the next grade level.

The practical translation for educators is this: you can’t use SAGE Summative as part of students’ term 4/final grades.

Legislating that the results of SAGE Summative may not be considered in a student’s grade is an unnecessary intrusion into school and classroom management. In practice, this results in the SAGE Summative not being used as a the summative assessment for the class when it is appropriate to do so. For example, a Biology class could use SAGE Summative as a comprehensive final, as it covers the standards taught. Instead, students may be required to take a separate final exam within 1-2 weeks of taking the SAGE final exam.

As far as grade promotion being determined by standardized assessments, are there any Utah LEAs using them for that purpose? I am not aware of any. It would be more appropriate to say that students’ promotion may not solely be determined by a test, rather than mandating it not be used at all. As student non-promotion decisions are currently handled on a case-by-case basis, the legislature should not seek to limit the information parents and educators can use in reaching a decision.

Especially when there is concern about over-testing, we should be cautious in amending our education policy in ways that may require teachers to develop redundant assessments.

I’ve already emailed these thoughts to my legislators. I encourage you to communicate what you know and think as well.

Legislative Letter 1: SB 204 and grading policy