With the majority of its schools performing well within expected ranges - and above both national and state averages - Davis School District officials feel comfortable with the 1994 Stanford Achievement Test results.

The average percentile score on the basic battery (reading, math and language) at both fifth- and eighth-grade levels dropped by a single percentage point, but the drop was not significant and the students in both grades scored above national norms - in the 54th percentile at fifth and the 53rd at eighth grade. At 11th grade, the average percentile score remained at 58 - eight points above the national norm.The Utah averages for 1994 on the basic battery were 53, 50 and 55 for fifth, eighth and 11th grades, respectively.

The tests, which are administered each year in all Utah schools, compare Utah students to a large national "norming" group. Fifty is the norm against which all who take the test are measured.

David H. Steele, who directs the district's assessment programs, was particularly pleased with the percentile performance of 11th graders, who, he said, show the ultimate results of Davis' overall program.

"The 11th graders show a summative comparison over time," he said.

Davis Superintendent Rich Kendell, noting that the SAT is only one of several measures that indicate how the district is performing, said he also was satisfied in general. But he is concerned for some schools that fell below the expected range of scores.

Seven schools, all elementaries, were below the range of scores developed by the State Office of Education for each of the state's schools. The range is calculated by factoring in how many children are on free or reduced-price school lunch or are being served by the state's welfare program.

Those below the range were Antelope, Crestview, Hill Field, South Clearfield, Syracuse, Wasatch and West Point - all schools that have high mobility and serve children with socioeconomic challenges.

The below-norm scores do not necessarily reflect poor teaching or curriculum choices, Steele said. Several of the schools have experimental programs, tutoring opportunities, business partnerships and are making other efforts to offset the challenge, Kendell said.

Socioeconomic factors predict, to a large degree, how well a child will do in school.

"If our schools are within the predicted range, I'm happy," said Kendell. Several programs are targeting the low-income, at-risk children to try to offset the socioeconomic factors, he said.

Because a new set of children takes the test each year, it is impossible to compare fairly year to year, Kendell noted. "We try to explain too much from these tests. We simply can't draw a lot of conclusions from them," although they show, in general, how well Utah children are doing in comparison with a national norm group.

The tests are designed so that 50 percent of the children in a normal mixed group would be below the norm and 50 percent above, he said.

Following a state trend, the Davis children made their worst showing in English and the language arts. The average for both fifth and eighth grade was 48 - two points below the national norm.

Again, Steele said that the improved performance in this area at 11th grade - the 51st percentile - "means a great deal."

The district's English/language arts scores on the SAT test have shown improvement since the 1990-91 tests, he said.

Utah's low scores indicate a different approach to the subjects, Davis officials said. Many districts, including Davis, use an integrated curriculum that combines reading and writing, they said. Children are encouraged to write beginning in the primary grades and there is less emphasis on the mechanics of writing. The SAT test, on the other hand, concentrates on those mechanics, including grammar, punctuation and spelling.

In Utah's large classes, giving writing assignments to children can be labor-intensive for the teachers who must grade the papers, Kendell said. That may discourage some teachers from stressing writing.

State curriculum specialists are addressing the consistently low English/language scores. Davis also has special programs that hopefully will increase performance on the SAT in the future. Male students, in particular, do poorly on the national comparisons in English/language arts, the State Office of Education found.

Davis scores were especially good in science (60 at fifth; 58 at eighth; and 66 at 11th) and in social science (55, 50 and 56 respectively.) Those subjects are not included in the basic battery score.

A specialist in the social studies area noted that Utah eighth graders could not logically be expected to score as well in the SAT social studies test, because they all spend seventh grade studying Utah history. That puts them behind other eighth graders who have had a general social studies course preceding the test, he said.

Twenty-two percent of Davis' students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, an indicator of economic status of their parents. The district has higher student/teacher ratios than the state (1/25 in grades K-3; 1/28 grades 4-9; 1/26 grades 10-12.6; 1/28, compared with the state overall average of 1/22 and the national average of 1/16.)

It also spends less per student at $3,029 (1993-94), compared with $3,257 for Utah and $5,638 for the nation.

*****

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

SAT results: Davis School District

School Total Battery

1993 1994 Change 1994 Expected Range

EIGHTH GRADE

Bountiful Junior 57 45 -12 40-64

Centerville Junior 62 57 -5 44-69

Central Davis Junior 49 48 -1 40-64

Fairfield Junior* NA 57 NA NA**

Farmington Junior 63 63 0 44-69

Kaysville Junior 67 60 -7 43-68

Millcreek Junior 60 61 +1 39-63

Mueller Park Junior 64 60 -4 45-70

North Davis Junior 38 38 0 34-57

North Layton Junior 49 49 0 40-64

South Davis Junior 50 50 0 42-65

Sunset Junior 45 42 -3 39-63

Syracuse Junior 48 45 -3 44-68

TOTAL EIGHT GRADE 54 53 -1 45-61

ELEVENTH GRADE

Bountiful 68 66 -2 43-68

Clearfield 51 53 +2 37-63

Davis 66 63 -3 43-69

Layton 52 47 -5 39-66

Northridge 51 50 -1 41-67

Viewmont 61 62 +1 43-69

Woods Cross 64 66 +2 41-67

TOTAL ELEVENTH GRADE 58 58 0 50-63

*Fairfield opened in 1994.

FIFTH GRADES

Adams 69 62 -7 47-78

Adelaide 61 62 +1 43-72

Antelope 26 25 -1 30-56

Boulton 58 62 +4 46-76

Bountiful 63 59 -4 43-72

Burton 67 64 -3 47-77

Centerville 56 61 +5 45-75

Clinton 39 50 +11 44-73

Columbia 66 59 -7 46-76

Cook 62 46 -16 40-69

Crestview 44 31 -13 37-66

Doxey 41 40 -1 38-67

East Layton 55 59 +4 47-78

Farmington 56 73 +17 47-77

Fremont 46 45 -1 32-60

Hill Field 46 35 -11 40-70

Holbrook 59 53 -6 44-73

Holt 53 46 -7 40-69

Kaysville 56 60 +4 43-72

King 39 51 +12 40-69

Knowlton 69 68 -1 48-78

Layton 53 63 +10 40-69

Lincoln 45 40 -5 33-62

Meadowbrook 38 NA NA NA*

Monte Vista 59 61 +2 45-74

Morgan 62 67 +5 47-77

Muir 66 56 -10 47-78

Oak Hills 55 67 +12 47-77

Orchard 50 50 0 40-69

Reading 67 64 -3 47-78

S. Clearfield 29 31 +2 33-61

S. Weber 46 53 +7 47-77

Stewart 60 54 -6 48-78

Sunset 32 40 +8 33-61

Syracuse 36 43 +7 44-73

Taylor 58 50 -8 45-75

Tolman 67 58 -9 45-74

Vae View 39 39 0 36-64

Valley View 72 81 +9 47-77

Wasatch 27 23 -4 25-51

Washington 64* 69 +5 37-66

W. Bountiful 50 56 +6 44-74

W. Clinton 37 45 +8 41-71

W. Point 46 39 -7 46-76

Whitesides 46 38 -8 33-61

Woods Cross 50 54 +4 43-72

TOTAL FIFTH GRADE 55 54 -1 52-63

*Due to a scheduling conflict, Meadowbrook did not take the test