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SALT LAKE CITY — A divided State School Board voted Friday to use the much-maligned SAGE test one more year in grades 9 and 10 rather than conflict with state laws that require testing and risk running afoul of state procurement laws.
The computer-based exam was thought to be on its way out in favor of pre-ACT tests, which administrators said students would take more seriously and the results would provide more meaningful data.
But the Utah State Board of Education has since learned the suite of ACT tests would also conflict with state standards and school accountability programs.
State School Board members said many high school students opt out of SAGE testing, rendering the data less reliable and some members wondered aloud if for the coming year, the state could halt the testing of ninth- and 10th-grade students for this year only.
"If it's not good data, it’s not worthwhile," said board member Linda Hansen.
But they were told that is not an option.
"We don’t have the legal authority to not test period. We do have some wiggle room to what tests we administer," said Angie Stallings, associate state superintendent of policy and communication.
State Superintendent of Instruction Sydnee Dickson said the office will take the year to nail down assessments that comply with law, pair with standards and provide useful data from results.
"What we continually hear from the field is, 'Stop changing, stop changing the measurement.' We need to get this right so it will stand," Dickson said.