Today, the Utah State Board of Education released its annual report cards for schools across the state.
Every spring, Utah students in grades 3-10 are tested on English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science to demonstrate accountability for how schools, districts, and the state as a whole are performing when it comes to student learning and state academic standards.
The state school report cards reflect measures of student achievement, growth, Multilingual Learner progress, and post-secondary readiness, as well as the percent of consistent attendance and postsecondary enrollment. The participation rate calculated for reporting purposes does not include students who do not take the assessment due to parental exclusion, as described in state law (R277-404). (Note. For the 2023 9th and 10th grade, Aspire+ PCSD experienced double the parental exclusions (14%) from the previous year.)
Some updates to this year’s School Report Card release include the absence of a single letter grade for individual schools. This removal is a result of 2023 legislation (HB308), which removed the controversial requirement in favor of more comprehensive accountability measures.
The report cards reveal that PCSD students are performing 10-20% above state averages when it comes to English Language Arts, Math, and Science. Proficiency rates for ELA and Science both increased from the previous year, whereas we saw slight decreases (-2%) in Math proficiencies. Regarding early literacy, PCSD students in grades K-3 demonstrated a +2% increase in the percentage of students reading on grade level.
Another significant change on this year's school report cards is related to Multilingual Learners (ML) and their progress. The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) has made changes to the criteria ML students must meet on the WIDA-Access assessment to determine language proficiency and exit ML services and programs. The new exit criteria are now lower, and as a result, more ML students in PCSD have been able to reach language proficiency. To put it in perspective, in previous years, our district typically reported that around 6% of Multilingual Learners exit the program. In 2023, due to the new criteria, a much higher percentage, specifically 23% of PCSD ML students, were able to meet the requirements and reach language proficiency.
One report card calculation that remained is the percentage of ML students making “adequate progress” or growth toward language proficiency - a measure where our district has seen steady progress in recent years: 21% in 2021, 40% in 2022, and most recently, 50% in 2023.
One measure on the report cards we know to be likely underreported is the metric of Postsecondary Enrollment. USBE obtains this measure from the National Student Clearinghouse, which has historically resulted in low match rates for PCSD students. While the state reports PCSD postsecondary enrollment to be 30.1%, our own internal student-reported data shows that ~80% of PCHS graduates typically intend to enroll in a postsecondary institution. While USBE school report cards display this measure, it is important to note that the postsecondary enrollment metric is not a part of the overall score for state accountability.
For the October 1, 2023 Chief Teaching and Learning Officer Stacey Briggs’ report to the PCSD Board of Education, link here.