Bill would create task force to evaluate student testing

By Morgan Jacobsen | Posted - Mar. 5, 2015 at 4:24 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Last month, Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, sparked a debate about SAGE testing, saying he would back legislation to create a task force to consider eliminating the test.

On Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee unanimously passed a bill with no debate that would create that task force.

SB279 would charge the task force of lawmakers and State School Board members to evaluate whether Utah schools are "offering authentic formative assessments throughout the year to recognize mastery when it occurs," and to make recommendations on changes needed to "hold student mastery as a constant and time as a variable."

That is, the task force would consider whether to eliminate the year-end Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence and replace it with another means of testing that measures student performance multiple times in a school year.

SAGE has come under fire because of its high-stakes nature and because it is only a once-a-year snapshot of student performance. Stephenson and other critics say the test is an inaccurate picture of student performance and that it places an undue burden on teachers and resources.

"I think it's important … that we get the Legislature and the State (School) Board together in the same room at the same time throughout the interim to see if we can arrive at improvements of the current system," Stephenson said. "I think, too, that this forum will help the public understand we really are trying to do what's right to assess how we're doing in our school system."

The task force would be expected to make recommendations to the Education Interim Committee by the end of November.

The bill will now be considered by the full Senate. Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com Twitter: MorganEJacobsen

Morgan Jacobsen

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