Students throughout the state are tested each year in April and May in language, math and science. The comprehensive testing program was developed by the State of Utah.
While the Utah State Legislature had abandoned the SAGE testing plan in favor of ACT testing, the state recently announced that the SAGE tests will continue for at least an additional year.
A growing issue for the SAGE testing program is the number of students who are not participating in the testing. Opt-out rates have tripled since the testing program was initially introduced.
The opt-out rates are increasing for a number of reasons, including parents who are concerned about how the testing data will be used and students who simply do not want to take the tests.
Critics contend that while the testing data is used to measure the teachers and the schools, there is little incentive for the students to do their best.
The testing results show positive gains for students and schools throughout the school district. Overall, the percentage of students scoring proficient in the math tests grew by nine percent over the prior years, while language scores grew by two percent and science scores by three percent.
While there is a wide variation in test score results between the schools in the district, the general trend across the district is growth in student proficiency.
Students at five schools in the district have shown growth in all three testing categories, led by Monticello Elementary School, which has shown a double digit increase in the language, math and science scores.
The schools showing growth in all three categories include Monticello Elementary, Blanding Elementary, Montezuma Creek Elementary, Monument Valley High, San Juan High in Blanding, and Whitehorse High School in Montezuma Creek.
Double digit increases in test scores have occurred in the language, math and science scores at Monticello Elementary; and the math scores at four schools, including Montezuma Creek Elementary, Monument Valley High, San Juan High, and Whitehorse High schools.
Native American students have made the most impressive gains among various ethnic groups over the prior four years, according to statewide scores.
The language scores of Native American students have increased by 18.3 percent between 2014 and 2017, while the math scores grew by 49.3 percent over the same period. The science score increase by Native American students is 23 percent.
Among ethnic groups, Native American students have scored the lowest in the state, but the performance gap is narrowing.