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Letter: Before they ‘fix’ student grades, lawmakers need to stop giving misleading grades to Utah schools

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Second grade teacher Annie Love makes the rounds of her class during a group reading excercise at Midvale Elementary Friday Feb. 9. Last year Midvale Elementary School paid teachers to visit students at their families at home as part of the school's turnaround efforts. But the funding for the program dried up this year. A new bill at the Legislature hopes to create a grant program to support home visits.

In its June meeting, the Education Interim Committee discussed competency-based education, a new model for flexible learning. Rep. Eric Hutchings and Sen. Howard Stephenson gave impassioned commentary about the inadequacy of letter grades and final exams to represent student learning.

Because there was no opportunity for public comment, I could not point out the irony that this committee still has not taken action on the accountability dashboard by which schools themselves receive an inadequate letter grade based on a standardized test.

School grades are proven by researchers to show more about the socioeconomic status of families than the learning taking place, and they cause many families to leave wonderful neighborhood schools based on a single exam rather than the school culture, enrichment programming or other features that matter.

Legislators: Get the cart behind the horse and stop grading schools before you change the way schools grade their students.

Ashley Anderson, Salt Lake City

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