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Utah's ed board still wrestling with data sharing

Published October 8, 2012 1:01 am

Education • Utah law is unclear on status of student achievement info.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The state school board on Friday backed off earlier plans to direct principals to share teacher achievement data with parents.

The board had planned to change state rule to encourage principals to share classroom-level data with parents who asked for it, but not share that information with the general public. But the board decided Friday not to change state rules yet, saying that state law appears to offer conflicting instructions when it comes to the matter.

The problem? Board members say some parts of state law seem to indicate that teacher evaluation data (which could include class achievement data) should remain private, while other parts of the law say that classroom-level achievement data should be publicly released. Also, education leaders worry that disclosing classroom-level achievement data could compromise student privacy if a class is small.

"Since the Legislature caused the problem, we believe the Legislature should try to fix the problem," said board member Dave Thomas.

Instead, the board hopes to put together a group of lawmakers and board members to make recommendations on how to resolve the issue legislatively.

It's an issue that's caused controversy around the country, with some saying that teacher-by-teacher achievement data should be public information to shine a light on outstanding and poorly performing teachers. Others, however, argue that the data should be private to protect student and educator privacy and because student test results without context don't paint a full picture of a teacher's ability.