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Utah assigns grades to all schools – how did yours do?

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What’s next? » Utah already had the Utah Comprehensive Accountability System, or UCAS, in place.

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Designed by the State Office of Education, it’s been approved by federal officials under a waiver from No Child Left Behind requirements. The first UCAS scores were released late last year.

Despite efforts over the summer to reconcile the two systems, both remain in place.

Later this month, the state office will release UCAS results for 2013. UCAS is based on the same data — scores on Criterion-Referenced Tests (CRT) and graduation rates — plus writing assessments for some grades.

Among the differences:

» UCAS ranks schools into percentiles rather than giving them grades.

» One-third of UCAS growth points are based lower-performing students; the grading system bases half of its growth points on them.

» UCAS gives schools some points for even partial amounts of student academic growth. The grading system sets a minimum bar: schools get no points for students with growth scores that fall below the 40th percentile, when their growth is compared to their academic peers.

Lawmakers admit the new school grading system needs tweaking. Niederhauser said he supports altering the 95 percent participation rule — which is also in UCAS — so that schools with lower participation drop one letter grade, instead of receiving an automatic F.

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Even so, he noted the rule affected six high schools out of more than 130 high schools that were graded.

"[Opponents of school grades] don’t like the transparency and simplicity this brings out," Niederhauser said. "It’s focused on student outcomes. We can’t get much simpler than that. School grading is going to reveal what’s under the paint."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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