Utah student scores on annual end-of-level tests dip for first time in test history

Scores on annual end-of-level Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) tests in language arts, mathematics and science dipped slightly in 2017 for the first time in four years, the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) reported.

The Board reported declining scores among most student groups with the notable exceptions of increases in:

  • All subjects from students with limited-English proficiency and students with disabilities.
  • Language arts testing for students who are Hispanic and of multiple races.
  • Mathematics scores among students who identify with multiple races.

Overall, language arts proficiency rates decreased from 44.1 percent in 2016 to 43.6 percent in 2017; mathematics proficiency rates decreased from 46.5 percent to 45.7 percent; and science proficiency rates decreased from 48.7 percent to 47.5 percent.

Utah students have been taking state SAGE since 2014. Despite the decrease between 2016 and 2017, overall scores are still higher than in 2014.

“We will be looking deeper into the numbers to understand reasons behind the slight decline,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson. “One year of decrease does not annul three years of growth, particularly when we also have 2017 data from ACT that shows an increase in Utah high school student scores. The Utah State Board of Education will continue to focus on improving academic achievement for each student.”

Utah students take SAGE in language arts in grades 3 – 11, in math in grades 3 – 8 plus students who take Secondary Math I, II, and III, and in science in grades 4 – 8 and in Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Utah law allows parents to opt their students out of tests. In 2017, 5.9 percent of tests (69,685 tests in all) were opted out compared to 2 percent (or 22,077 tests) in 2014.

USBE will use data from student scores to calculate school grading reports in accordance with Utah law. School grading information will be released later this month.

Student data from 2017 SAGE, and all previous years, are available on the Utah State Board of Educationwebsite.