Though Nebo School District officials don't hold much stock in standardized testing, they say they're still pleased with steady or improving districtwide results on the Stanford Achievement Test.

"We're definitely pleased," said Nebo Director of Elementary Education Dean Rowley. "Most of our schools tested where they should have, and some did even better."But Rowley and other officials - including Larry Kimball, Nebo's director of secondary education - caution that districts are unable to control testing conditions, including when and where students take the test.

"If all it's supposed to do is take a snapshot at one instant in time and compare all these students and schools, then it's probably OK," Rowley said. "But, unfortunately, it can't measure all the other intangibles - all the good things that go on in the classroom, like self-esteem programs. It just can't measure those things."

All Utah school districts (including Nebo) administered the SAT, a norm-referenced test, to their fifth-, eighth- and 11th-grade students between September and October. The testing is part of a mandated program of accountability in education created by the Utah Legislature in 1990.

The version of the SAT given to Utah students tests their knowledge of mathematics, reading and language/English (which make up the basic battery), as well as science and social science subtests (which are not figured into each school's composite score).

Reports of district and school performances on the SAT were made available in early December. Those reports include average district and school scores, as well as predicted score ranges that allow a comparison between the school or district and a range of scores expected in a school or district with similar students.

Kimball said that, while testing results help document evident school performance, testing programs can put undue pressure on teachers.

"To me, there's so much left wanting from testing, and we hold so much to it," he said.

Overall, the district's elementary and junior highs dropped marginally, while the high schools increased slightly.

Five elementary schools (Brookside and Grant in Springville, Spanish Fork's Park, Goshen and Santaquin) all performed above their expected range. In fact, Grant's 79 (including an 82 in math) was one of the highest composite scores on the elementary level in the state, and Goshen improved its score from mediocre to one of the district's best.

However, on the down side was Westside Elementary in Springville, whose composite dropped 17 points from last year and was less than expected.

In the secondary schools, most stayed the same or went down slightly. But Both Payson High and Springville High managed to improve their composite scores beyond their national counterparts and performed similarly to other Utah students.

In the language/English area, which continues to be a sore spot in the state and around the country, Nebo's fifth-graders outperformed their state and national counterparts, while the junior high and high school students either stayed the same or improved somewhat. District officials say they hope the writing assessment program created three years ago - used by fifth-grade teachers and by all language/English instructors on the secondary level - will continue to help student performance on the SAT.

"We'd need research to prove it's helped so far," Kimball said. "But we're hoping it has helped already, because things are looking better."

On the math and reading areas, the district's fifth-graders and 11th-graders did better than most U.S. students and at least as well as other Utah schoolchildren. The 11th-graders also turned in better than expected scores on the science and social science testing areas.

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(Chart)

SAT results

Nebo School District

School Total Battery 1993

Expected

Fifth Grade 1991 1992 1993 Change Range

Art City 64 64 62 -2 43-69

Barnett 68 54 59 +5 37-63

Brockbank 69 59 60 +1 40-67

Brookside 66 63 64 +1 37-62

Goshen 54 44 62 +18 33-59

Grant 78 69 79 +10 33-60

Larsen 56 60 53 -7 41-69

Mapleton 62 63 59 -4 43-69

Park 69 63 67 +4 37-62

Park View 58 44 54 +10 35-60

Rees 54 48 55 +7 33-59

Sage Creek 53 67 50 -17 40-68

Salem 63 63 50 -13 41-69

Santaquin 70 55 59 +4 32-58

Taylor 59 54 50 -4 33-59

Westside 53 50 33 -17 37-63

Wilson 54 47 52 +5 37-62

Total fifth grade 63 60 58 -2 46-64

Eighth GRade

Payson 45 45 44 -1 37-59

S.F. Intermediate 48 49 49 0 39-61

Springville 48 54 50 -4 40-63

Total eight grade 47 49 48 -1 44-59

Eleventh Grade

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Payson 58 51 48 -3 37-61

Spanish Fork 50 51 55 +4 37-63

Springville 60 52 56 +4 38-64

Total Eleventh Grade 56 51 52 +1 44-60

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