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SO-SO SHOWING ON SAT BAFFLES GRANITE

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With small drops in two of three grade-level scores this year, some Granite District leaders are wondering why their students are not making a better showing on the Stanford Achievement Test.

Granite eighth-graders scored below the nation norm of 50, with an average percentile score of 47. At fifth grade, the score remained at the 50th percentile, right on the national norm. At 11th grade, students scored at the 53rd percentile this year, three points above the national norm but two points below last year's 55.When the scores were presented earlier this month to the Granite Board of Education, Lynn D. Davidson said he was dismayed that the district did not do better on the nationally normed test.

"I'm still puzzled about what's happening," he said after the scores were explained by district specialist Darryl Thomas. "Since 1972, Granite has always been above state and national averages. We have a more homogenous group of students (than the national comparison group.)"

Poverty measures, which are used as an indicator of how well children will do on the SAT, should not be a foregone conclusion that those children cannot learn, he said.

The district always shows outstanding performance in such things as advanced placement (college level) courses and college entrance tests, Davidson noted. On the SAT scores, however, schools with large groups of socio-economically deprived children bring the district averages down.

"We seem to be doing very well with our best and brightest students. What can we do to reach the rest?" he asked. "(Social aid) doesn't impact a child's intelligence, though it may influence his motivation."

Thomas urged the board to keep the scores in perspective as only one measure of what the district is doing.

"A larger, more diverse (test pool) brings the scores closer to the center," Thomas said. "It is difficult to move much above the 50th percentile."

The SAT test is "normed" by giving it to a large group of students who represent America's demographic mix. Fifty percent of those who take it are above and 50 percent below the national norm.

Granite spokesman Kent Gardner said the number of children in the district who meet the poverty guidelines for free or reduced school lunch is increasing. The total has doubled over the past few years, he said.

Granite Superintendent Loren G. Burton also reminded board members that the district does not align its curriculum to the SAT test. The district does well on tests that measure what students actually have studied, he said.

Some Granite board members suggested that districts that are doing well in the SAT testing may be "teaching to the test" - providing children with the type of information that will help them score well.

David E. Nelson, state evaluation director, told the Deseret News the Utah test is well protected and several safeguards are in place to prevent such abuses.

Davidson remained unhappy at the prospect of sharing school-by-school scores with the public, as required by the Utah Legislature. "Why do we do it? The state is spending lots of money for nothing. The money would be better spent on something else."

Board President Robert Arnold said the board "shouldn't be afraid to publish the results," even though he, too, was frustrated with the scores. "Our kids will have to compete with national and international peers," he said.

Most districts were giving nationally normed tests to students before the state initiated the SAT program in 1990, but the results were not subject to public scrutiny and comparison. Many educators are concerned about what they see as unfair comparisons of schools that are radically different in their student bodies.

A drop in fifth-grade reading scores - from the 49th to the 47th percentile - was a cause for concern for board member Patricia Sandstrom, who is a teacher herself. Such a decline is troublesome at a time when literacy is being stressed, she said.

Thomas pointed out to the board that there is considerable difference in the classes that take the test from one year to the next and that the answers to only one or two questions can change the percentile average up or down by a point or more.

Fourteen of the Granite schools scored below the expected range predicted by the State Office of Education. That range is based on how many students receive free or reduced-price lunch and/or Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Five scored higher than the expected range.

All of those below the expected range are located in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods on the district's west side.

An exception to the usual east-west alignment of test scores is Western Hills in Kearns. The school has 40 percent of its student body receiving reduced-price/free lunch or welfare assistance. Those predictors put Western Hills in the expected range of 31 to 59 percentile points on the SAT test. But the school's fifth-graders actually averaged in the 62nd percentile.

The stand-out performance at Western Hills was in mathematics, where the fifth-graders came in with an impressive 73rd percentile score. "The 36's" and other programs that focus on math proficiency are making a difference, Becker said.

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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

SAT results: Granite School District

SCHOOL TOTAL BATTERY CHANGE 1994 EXPECTED RANGE

1993 1994

FIFTH GRADE

Academy Park 33 45 +12 37-66

Arcadia 54 50 -4 39-68

Bacchus 51 56 +5 41-71

Beehive 39 40 +1 37-66

Bennion 58 63 +5 43-72

Bridger 33 47 +14 38-67

Canyon Rim 72 59 -13 37-66

Copper Hills 50 51 +1 37-66

Cottonwood 76 79 +3 48-78

Crestview 84 66 -18 45-74

Driggs 59 67 +8 46-76

Eastwood 61 81 +20 48-78

Libbie Edward 67 55 -12 38-67

Farnsworth 44 33 -11 35-63

Fox Hills 55 55 0 40-69

Fremont 59 48 -11 36-64

Frost 59 44 -15 37-66

Gourley 50 30 -20 37-66

Granger 26 33 +7 31-59

Hill View 45 52 +7 38-67

Hillsdale 40 39 -1 29-55

Hillside 44 45 +1 40-69

Holladay 72 50 -22 43-72

Hunter 44 40 -4 37-64

Jackling 37 25 -12 37-66

Lake Ridge 32 24 -8 37-66

Lincoln 37 24 -13 27-53

Magna 48 33 -15 35-62

Meadow Moor 56 59 +3 45-74

Mill Creek 38 46 +8 36-64

Monroe 37 30 -7 28-54

Morningside 79 71 -8 47-77

Moss 38 31 -7 30-58

Oakridge 86 78 -8 48-78

Oakwood 66 74 +8 47-77

Oquirrh Hills 40 24 -16 35-62

Orchard 32 38 +6 37-66

William Penn 61 59 -2 41-71

Pioneer 33 56 +23 29-55

Pleasant Green 47 40 -7 36-63

Plymouth 51 44 -7 44-73

Redwood 36 24 -12 23-47

Rolling Meadows 53 51 -2 35-63

Roosevelt 27 55 +28 28-54

Rosecrest 69 60 -9 44-73

Sandburg 40 53 +13 38-67

Silver Hills 40 41 +1 37-66

Calvin Smith 63 52 -11 45-75

South Kearns 44 23 -21 30-56

Stansbury 22 23 +1 25-51

Taylorsville 41 59 +18 40-69

Truman 53 55 +2 46-76

Twin Peaks 67 73 +6 44-73

Upland Terrace 75 76 +1 48-78

Valley Crest 51 51 0 40-69

Vista 51 52 +1 41-71

Webster 15 21 +6 22-45

West Kearns 28 25 -3 28-55

Westbrook 53 44 -9 41-70

Western Hills 58 62 +4 31-59

Whittier 46 36 -10 37-66

Wilson 27 33 +6 25-51

Woodstock 64 73 +9 46-76

TOTAL FIFTH GRADE 50 50 0 48-60

EIGHTH GRADE

Bennion 56 53 -3 43-68

Bonneville 61 49 -12 43-68

Brockbank 32 34 +2 33-57

Churchill 61 64 +3 45-70

Eisenhower 48 40 -8 38-62

Evergreen 59 53 -6 40-64

Granite Park 30 30 0 26-49

Hunter 43 34 -9 38-61

Jefferson 29 44 +15 36-59

Kearns 38 36 -2 36-59

Kennedy 44 36 -8 38-61

Olympus 70 65 -5 44-69

Valley 39 47 +8 39-63

Wasatch 73 78 +5 43-68

West Lake 40 30 -10 32-55

TOTAL EIGHTH GRADE 48 47 -1 43-59

ELEVENTH GRADE

Central NA 15 NA 34-61

Cottonwood 62 62 0 43-68

Cyprus 46 43 -3 36-62

Granger 43 43 0 37-62

Granite 38 38 0 34-61

Hunter 48 47 -1 37-63

Kearns 48 48 0 34-61

Olympus 67 67 0 43-69

Skyline 71 66 -5 46-71

Taylorsville 55 56 +1 43-68

TOTAL ELEVENTH GRADE 55 53 -2 46-60

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Daily SAT schedule

The Deseret News is publishing the 1994 Stanford Achievement Tests for the following school districts:

- Tuesday, Dec. 27 - Salt Lake City

- Wednesday, Dec. 28 - Murray

- Thursday, Dec. 29 - Granite

- Friday, Dec. 30 - Jordan

- Saturday, Dec. 31 - Davis

- Sunday, Jan. 1 - Alpine

- Monday, Jan. 2 - Provo

- Tuesday, Jan. 3 - Nebo

- Wednesday, Jan. 4 - Tooele, North/South Summit, Park City.