School starts in Provo School District 07

The first of the first days of school starts at Provo High School on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017. This marks the last first day the school will have in its current building. Sammy Jo Hester, Daily Herald

School grades are out, but Utah County districts aren’t putting much stock in them.

“Data provided to schools through SAGE testing is helpful for schools to get a bigger picture of how students perform in comparison to other students in Utah,” a statement from Alpine School District regarding the grades reads. “The current school grading process is not reliable in showing what happens daily in our schools. We look forward to a modification of the school accountability process.”

The Utah State Board of Education released the grades in late September. Grades decreased statewide, as did scores from the Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence tests, known as SAGE tests. The tests are a factor in the grades that schools receive.

Fewer elementary schools received As or Bs for 2016-2017 compared to the previous year, while more high schools received As.

The grades for high schools are based off SAGE scores, ACT tests and graduation rates, while elementary school grades are based off SAGE tests and a literacy test.

For 2015-2016, the baseline for the grades was changed after too many schools would have received high grades.

Nine elementary schools received As in Alpine School District for the 2016-2017 school year, 41 received Bs, 17 received Cs, two received Ds and one received an F. Five high schools received Bs and three received Cs.

Barratt Elementary School in American Fork, Cedar Ridge Elementary School in Cedar Hills, the gifted program at Cherry Hill Elementary School in Orem, Highland Elementary School, Lindon Elementary School, Orchard Elementary School in Orem, Orem Elementary School, River Rock Elementary School in Lehi and Westfield Elementary School in Alpine received As.

Suncrest Elementary School in Orem received an F.

The listed D grades for Lone Peak High School and Oak Canyon Junior High School in Lindon are inaccurate, according to David Stephenson, spokesman for Alpine School District. He said the schools both received Cs, but that information online hasn’t been updated to reflect that yet.

Not a single school in Nebo School District received an A grade for the 2016-2017 school year.

In the district, 18 elementary schools received a B for 2016-2017, 15 received a C and three received a D. Two high schools received a C, two received a D and Payson High School received an F.

It’s the second year in a row Payson High School has received that grade.

A spokeswoman with Nebo School District was unable to comment on the school grades Tuesday.

Two schools in Provo City School District received an A for the 2016-2017 school year.

Centennial Middle School and Edgemont Elementary School received A grades last year, while Provo High School received the district’s only F after receiving a C last year.

Two schools in the elementary category received As, eight received Bs, three received Cs and one received a D. Timpview High School received a C.

Todd McKee, the executive director of secondary education for Provo City School District said the grades are seen as one of many indicators for how well a school is doing.

“It is definitely something we give course to, and I think the challenge is that they continue to reconfigure the formula and it makes it a little bit difficult for us,” he said.

He said it’s hard to boil a school down to a single letter grade. Instead, the high schools look toward other indicators like graduation rates, growth in Advanced Placement programs and how well students perform in college to gain insight into how well a school is doing.

McKee said Provo High School dropped to an F for last school year partly because a handful of students missed the SAGE testing date. He said if schools don’t have a sufficient number of students taking the test, which parents can opt their child out of, the school’s letter grade automatically drops.

He said parents shouldn’t be worried about Provo High School’s F grade.

“It is a concern for us, absolutely, but do we feel it captures everything that’s going on with that school? Absolutely not,” McKee said. “There are other great things going on.”

He points to the school’s rising graduation rate and ACT scores for juniors as evidence the school is improving.

Among Utah County’s public charter schools, John Hancock Charter School in Pleasant Grove and the Utah County Academy of Sciences in Orem received As. No Utah County charter school received an F for the 2016-2017 school year.

Statewide, 9 percent of elementary schools and 6 percent of high schools received As, while three percent of elementary schools and 18 percent of high schools received an F grade.

School grading will be suspended for the 2017-18 school year after a vote from the state legislature.

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