Four years of taking the Stanford Achievement Test haven't revealed any significant trends among Provo School District students.

Scores seem to be attached to a yo-yo string: sometimes they're up, sometimes they're down. District administrators were hard-pressed to explain why test scores were lower last year than the year before. Same story this year with better results. Overall, scores for fifth-, eighth- and 11th-grade students in 1993 held steady or exceeded previous marks."It's kind of a patchwork pattern," said Kathy Hughes, administrator for curriculum and instruction.

Hughes' assessment of the most recent test is, "We had a good year." School districts began administering the SAT in 1990 as part of a legislative mandate for accountability in education. Five subjects - math, reading, English/language, science and social science - make up the exam. The national norm for each test is 50.

Hughes, as she has the past three years, said the test is only a snapshot in time. "That's all that it can be construed as," she said. Makers of the test caution schools to remember that the information is only one of many indicators of school quality.

One measuring stick often overlooked, Hughes said, is teachers' personal observation of students. "That in my mind is one of the best indicators," she said.

Administrators, including Superintendent Kay Laursen, were particularly pleased with fifth-grade math scores.

Math scores were up in eight of the district's 12 elementary schools, with Wasatch leading the way. Its score of 84 surpassed the expected range for the school by 10 percentage points.

High school and middle school students didn't make as large of strides in math, but their scores were still at the higher end of the curve.

Language in middle and elementary schools continues to be an Achilles' heel. Fifth- and eighth-grade scores in that subject were within the expected range, but below the national average of 50. Elementary school students scored 48 for the second year in a row and middle schoolers scored 45 for the third consecutive year.

Hughes said the writing program is good, but wondered if teachers are teaching it to its conclusion.

Low language scores, however, aren't uncommon in Utah. Students statewide consistently have failed to reach national norms.

"I don't think the test tests what we teach," said Laursen, sounding a familiar chord.

Students at all three levels continue to make good marks in reading. "I think we're teaching students to read a lot more," Hughes said.

Middle school scores were about the same as they've been in years past, with students doing best in reading.

As usual, Provo's 11th-graders did very well on the test. Composite scores at Provo and Timpview met the high end or exceeded the expected range in all five subjects.

Scores at Independence High, the district's alternative school, were down in all categories except for social science.

"While we hope those scores will rise, we understand some of the dilemmas those kids are facing," Hughes said.

Hughes invited parents to contact their children's schools if they want more information about SAT results.


SAT results

Provo School District

School Total Battery 1993

1991 1992 1993 Change Expected


Canyon Crest 69 63 72 +9 49-73

Edgemont 67 62 62 0 44-69

Franklin 45 38 36 -2 26-47

Grandview 54 41 61 +20 37-60

Joaquin 54 32 44 +12 24-44

Maeser 60 44 56 +12 26-47

Provost 68 52 59 +7 36-59

Rock Canyon 75 74 71 -3 43-67

Sunset View 39 45 39 -6 37-60

Timpanogos 50 37 41 +4 26-47

Wasatch 63 72 74 +2 41-66

Westridge 68 66 66 0 40-64

Total fifth grade 60 55 58 +3 43-56

Eighth Grade

Dixon 51 43 47 +4 33-53

Farrer 55 56 57 +1 38-59

Total eighth grade 53 50 53 +3 42-55

Eleventh Grade

Provo 61 61 58 -3 39-58

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Timpview 74 71 70 -1 44-63

Independence 19 30 21 -9 N/A*

Total eleventh grade53 50 53 +3 42-55

*Alternative high school

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