Teaching students to enjoy learning and focusing on their study skills and self-esteem are credited with raising this year's scores for eighth-graders in Murray District.

Overall, Murray District scores on the annual statewide Stanford Achievement Tests were above the state average and improved from 1992 scores. The national average is 50.The tests are administered each fall to all children in grades five, eight and 11. Every year, a different group of children takes the test.

"We're very proud of our district - the teachers and the students. We'll continue to strive for excellence in all aspects of the children's development throughout their school years," said Barbara Brunker, director of personnel and public services.

"We stayed within our socioeconomic expected range, and that's significant to us. But these tests are just one indicator of achieve-ment."

Brunker is particularly proud of the three-point improvement in scores of Riverview eighth-graders. "The teachers have worked hard to help kids in the transition from elementary school. They work on building confidence in the students, and that has resulted in better testing and learning skills." Al Church, who has been principal of Riverview for the past three years, deserves much of the credit for the students' success, she said.

Church emphasizes helping the kids adjust to the whole new set of challenges students face in adjusting to junior high - socially and academically. Through a district grant, each student is provided a daytimer notebook to keep track of assignments, tests, school activities. Organizing and planning ahead has dramatically improved study skills.

Teachers focus on the process of learning - the interrelationship between math, English, science, art and health - not just memorizing unrelated facts.

The Murray Board of Education has allowed teachers an additional hour a week for planning by letting students out earlier one day a week. "Time is a teacher's most valuable commodity. This extra hour has enhanced teachers' ability to focus on specific learning challenges of their students," said Church. "We have high expectations of the students, and that increases their ability to study, to learn and to take tests."

In Murray, a diversity of socio-economic factors influence students' performance on tests. When there is a lot of transition in a school, such as Horizon and Parkside elementary schools, consistency in teaching is difficult.

In some of the schools where scores are lower, there are single parents who are struggling to work two jobs and spend time with their children. "It isn't that they don't care about their children, it's just hard to find enough time and energy to do it all," said Brunker.

There's less transition in the McMillan Elementary school area and the stable socioeconomic influence is reflected in their high scores. A score of 74 is significantly higher than the national average, said Brunker.

Murray High scores are consistently good. "It's a school that's willing to try new ideas working to improve their approach to teaching students," she said.

Although the scores at Bonnyview were comparatively low, Brunker was thrilled with the test results showing a seven-point increase by these eighth-graders because it is an alternative school.

"These are kids that otherwise wouldn't graduate. They would be lost in the shuffle. Many students turn out to be very successful because of the way the staff works with them."



Test-score schedule

The Deseret News will publish Standard Achievement Test results for 10 school districts:

-Sunday, Dec. 26, Salt Lake and Murray districts.

-Monday, Dec. 27, Granite

-Tuesday, Dec. 28, Jordan

-Wednesday, Dec. 29, Davis

-Thursday, Dec. 30, Alpine

-Friday, Dec. 31, Nebo and Provo

-Saturday, Jan. 1, Tooele and South Summit

SAT results

Murray School District

Total Battery 1993

School 1991 1992 1993 Change Expected Range

Fifth Grade

Grant 73 63 70 +7 50-74

Horizon 60 64 58 -6 44-68

Liberty 53 58 54 -4 44-68

Longview 70 56 61 +5 48-73

McMillian 66 67 74 +7 45-69

Parkside 51 54 44 -10 37-61

Viewmont 71 72 72 0 50-74

Total Fifth Grade 63 62 62 0 50-64

Eighth Grade

Hillcrest 56 53 57 +4 42-62

Riverview 44 57 60 +3 44-65

Total Eighth Grade 51 54 59 +5 47-61

Eleventh Grade

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Murray High 52 58 58 0 48-66

Bonnyview* 27 17 24 +7 N/A

Total Eleventh

Grade 51 53 56 +3 51-63

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