OGDEN — The Ogden School District’s test scores fell below the state average last year.
Adam McMickell, Director of Assessment and Accountability, presented data from the 2017-18 school year Thursday at an Ogden School District Board of Education meeting.
“We have work to do and we know that,” Superintendent Rich Nye said. “We’re fully committed to improving those outcomes.”
Eleventh-grade students who took the ACT college entrance exam last school year got an average composite score of 17 in the Ogden School District, lower than the state’s average score of 19.7. George Washington High School, the district’s alternative high school, saw the lowest average composite ACT score at 14.2. Ben Lomond High School’s students scored an average of 16.6 and Ogden High School’s students got a 17.7.
The district’s Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE) scores for all tested students fell below the state average as well. Ogden’s students scored 35 percent proficient in language arts and 31 percent proficient in math.
McMickell said the science scores aren’t available yet because of changes in the state’s assessment system. The state also suspended assigning letter grades to schools based on test scores and other accountability metrics.
While proficiency scores for last school year are lower than the state average, they have improved by 2 percent in both language arts and math since the 2015-16 school year.
SAGE proficiency rates for students in third through sixth grade were all between 8 and 12 percentage points lower than the state average. Students in seventh through ninth grade fared worse, sitting between 14 and 23 percentage points lower than the state average.
Nye also pointed out the the Ogden School District has gotten better scores faster than the state as a whole since SAGE was implemented in 2014. The district has seen a 7 percent improvement in language arts since then while the state has only seen a 3 percent improvement.
In math, the district has seen an 11 percent improvement while the state has seen 7 percent. Using the data available, the district has seen a 5 percent improvement in science SAGE proficiency too, though that could change slightly as more data becomes available. The state’s current rate is only 3 percent.
“Our rate of improvement is greater than the state’s on average,” Nye said. “It’s certainly something to be considered.”
These are the last SAGE scores the district will see as the test has been replaced with a new assessment called RISE.
Parents can choose to have their students opt-out of state mandated assessments like SAGE and RISE. The Ogden School District has an opt-out rate of 2.8 percent according to Utah State Board of Education data. Statewide, the opt-out rate is 5.3 percent.
McMickell said students who opt out aren’t counted against the district’s assessment scores.
The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills test, or DIBELS, is taken by students in kindergarten through sixth grade. Proficiency scores for young children have steadily decreased for the last three years, reaching 71 percent for kindergarteners, 49 percent for first graders and 50 percent for second graders as of 2018.
Board member Susan Richards suggested continuing small group work with students from kindergarten through first grade to improve the efficiency score disparity between those two age groups. McMickell said hiring more early reading intervention specialists would require funding but teachers are receiving comprehensive training to better help their students.
“The workload is going to be there,” he said. “Teachers work hard. It’s a hard job. But to be able to have confidence in the actions they’re taking should mean a reduction in stress.”
Third-grade students tested at a proficiency rate of 57 percent in 2018, a decrease from 59 percent the year prior and 60 percent the year before that.
The USBE asks districts to get a certain percentage of their third-grade students reading at a typical or better level when compared to students nationwide who start the school year at the same reading level. Ogden far exceeded the state’s 47.83 percent goal with 67 percent of third-grade students reaching proficiency or better.
Next year, the goal will increase to 60 percent and include first through third-grade students, McMickell said. If that had been the case for the district this year, they would have only been at 52 percent.
“We know we have some work to do this year to meet that mark next year,” he said.
As is required by law, a hearing was held at the meeting regarding an $87 million bond on the ballot this fall. If approved by voters, the money will go toward replacing Horace Mann and T.O. Smith elementary schools, building an addition at Wasatch Elementary School and renovating Polk Elementary School.
The hearing was the community’s last chance to express any dissent for the bond initiative in an official way and no one did so. After the Ogden City Council and Mayor Mike Caldwell did so Oct. 16, the school board also adopted a joint resolution of support for the bond initiative Thursday evening.