UEA says ‘Yes’ to strong school accountability – ‘No’ to current flawed Utah models


On Sept. 30, the State issued its Utah School Accountability System (UCAS) report for all schools in Utah (view the reports by school here). This follows a single letter grade report for schools issued earlier in the month, as required by new legislation.

The UEA, on behalf of teachers, has taken the position that both the current UCAS model, which was developed in response to a previous school grading law, and the single-grade reporting system are seriously flawed in the way they measure and report what’s happening in our schools. This position is shared by statewide associations representing school board members, superintendents, principals and parents.

“An appropriate school accountability model should be collaboratively developed by education experts and stakeholders,” said UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh. “School accountability should be comprehensive, account for student growth and address other issues that impact student learning, such as poverty. There must also be a way to direct resources and assistance to schools where identified help is needed. The State’s current accountability models are extraordinarily lacking in many of these areas.”

In a meeting held Aug. 20, the Utah Public Education Coalition – which includes representatives from the UEA, PTA, Utah School Boards Association, Utah School Superintendents Association, Utah Elementary School Principals Association and Utah Secondary School Principals Association – unanimously passed a resolution to support and advocate for a school accountability system that:

  • Honors growth by concentrating attention on helping every child grow in their academic achievement and values and recognizes that growth;
  • Makes clear to schools what is needed to improve in ways that even small increments of improvement can be recognized, reinforced and rewarded;
  • Is devoid of limitations that arise from reliance upon a bell-shaped curve;
  • Accurately reflects the performance and growth of the school and has a common perception as to the meaning; and
  • Provides assistance to schools that have created an improvement plan and provides the resources to implement that plan.

The UEA is urging those concerned with the current school accountability legislation and the impact it is having on communities, schools and classrooms to contact their state legislators and ask them to repeal current school grading law and replace it with collaboratively developed, comprehensive school accountability.

In representing Utah teachers, the UEA has been working and will continue to work with legislators, the State Board of Education, the Utah State Office of Education and other stakeholders to establish a valid and appropriate statewide school accountability system. This work will continue through the 2014 Legislative Session, so expect updates.

If you have information you’d like to share with the UEA about this issue, please feel free to respond to this email.

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