Ogden School Official Protests Comparisons

Ogden School Official Protests Comparisons

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- Comparing Ogden School District's test scores to the average in other school districts is misleading and unfair, said Reed Spencer, the district's executive director of teaching and learning.

"We have board members who think our schools aren't getting it done," said Spencer, who spoke at a district board work session Wednesday night. "And they're misinformed. They're only going by public opinion."

The district has 48.3 percent minorities this school year, and struggles with students who live in poverty and who do not speak, read or write English.

That makes it unrealistic to compare Ogden districts with a higher percentage of affluent students, Spencer said.

"Apples to apples isn't comparing district to district," he said. "That's apples to oranges. And that's just crazy."

Ogden district students who aren't in a high-risk-factor category are actually doing quite well on tests, he said.

When comparing these nonrisk students to the same category in other neighboring districts, Ogden district is actually doing just as well -- if not better -- than students in other districts, Spencer said.

"When you compare apples to apples, we're doing OK," he said.

Spencer backed up those comments with a table that paired several Ogden district elementary schools with Weber School District elementary schools of similar poverty level.

"We're doing darn good considering the challenges we have," said board Vice Chairman John Gullo.

Board member Kit Dimick said, "This shows the good job our teachers are doing to get those scores up there."

However, when viewed as a district average, Ogden district test scores seem incredibly bad, district officials say.

The district aims to continue its efforts to boost its students' test scores. District officials plan to improve teacher and administrator training and continue using grants that fund programs such as Reading First.

"Our kids are performing well, but we still have a lot of work to do," said Superintendent Cathy Ortega.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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