What Does UCAS Include?
UCAS accounts for student performance on language arts (grades 3-11), math (grades 3 – Algebra 2) and science (grades 4 – physics) on the CRTs, as well as the Direct Writing Assessments given to students in grades 5 and 8. UCAS also accounts for growth in the tested areas. Growth and achievement are expressed in a single composite score for each school on a scale of 0 – 600 points. Of this score, 300 points are possible for growth, and 300 are possible for achievement. There also is one subgroup, containing all students who last year scored below proficiency on the CRTs. Below-proficient students are double-weighted in the growth calculation, keeping the report's focus largely on narrowing the achievement gap.
How Are High School Reports Unique?
In high schools' achievement scores, graduation rates carry equal weight to test scores. The reports also are contained limited math and science achievement data. For example, CRTs uphold a minimum standard, which, in math, culminates at Algebra 2. Therefore, the performance of students taking math beyond Algebra 2 are not being tested or accounted for in these reports. Additionally, students taking Advanced Placement science and other subject areas also are not tested or included in the UCAS reports.
How Did Canyons Do on UCAS?
In the premiere UCAS reports, Canyons District schools meet or exceed the state average in the majority of our schools. Additionally, Canyons School District has a greater percent of students proficient on the Core CRTs than the state in every measure except for three middle school math tests. This difference is attributable to aggressive implementation of new Utah core and no longer having a strong alignment between CRT, course content and course taking patterns.
My School Has Always Posted High Achievement. What Happened?
You may notice that some typically high performing schools are receiving a lower ranking on the UCAS reports. In many of these cases, this is a result of the school posting low growth scores (this is particularly true for schools that have high test scores and less room for growth).
Why Are Some Middle School Math Scores Low for Canyons?
You may see Algebra 1 scores that are lower than the state in our middle school populations. This was to be expected. Canyons is one year ahead of other districts in implementing and teaching the new Utah core, and the CRTs are not aligned to what we are teaching in schools. We are working on higher quality teaching, and we are continuing to measure the effects of that with the ACT testing suite administered in grades 8, 10 and 11. There, we are seeing some gains, which are encouraging in terms of our efforts to ensure all students are college- and career-ready.
Where Can I Find More Achievement Data For My School?
Please visit Assessment Results and District Achievement Results for more student achievement information.
Why Did Utah Replace AYP and U-PASS Reports?
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has required states to implement systems to hold schools accountable for student achievement. Under the law, states had to set incremental proficiency standards and annually test students in math and English language arts. The ultimate goal was to have all students proficient in math and English language arts by 2014. A central part of the law was the public reporting of students' "Adequate Yearly Progress" toward the proficiency goal. These reports were controversial and widely known for their all-or-nothing approach and publicly naming of schools that didn't meet the benchmarks. In Utah, AYP reports were issued at the same time the state issued its own reports on student achievement under the Utah Performance Assessment System for Students. U-PASS used the same CRT scores, but its method of interpreting the scores and student progress frequently resulted in different conclusions than the AYP reports. With the approach of No Child Left Behind's 2014 deadline, it became apparent the 100 percent proficiency goal would not be met by any state. As a result, the U.S. Department of Education allowed states to apply for waivers from some the law's requirements. Utah was granted one of these waivers in spring 2012. As a result, the state has replaced both U-PASS and AYP reports with the new Utah Comprehensive Accountability System (UCAS).
What Are UCAS Advantages?
UCAS reports keep the focus on students who are not proficient on the CRTs, and students who are earning higher proficiency are compared against like-scoring peers from around the state. They also provide incentives for schools to keep pushing students who score as proficient to perform even higher. However, like any interpretive lens applied to test scores, UCAS has limitations. We plan to use UCAS reports as one piece of an overall picture of Canyons District student achievement.
Are These the Final Reports?
No. UCAS as of Nov. 30, 2012 should be considered an "interim report." The Utah State Office of Education has stated that further changes will be implemented over the next several months. More information can be found at the topic of each school UCAS report under the title, "Alert! Critical Report Clarifications."