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Utah SAGE Testing

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Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE)

The UEA has worked closely with the State Office of Education to represent teacher concerns and questions about SAGE. We will continue to work to ensure that educator concerns are addressed.

SAGE Overview

SAGE is the comprehensive assessment system for Utah. It includes formative, interim and summative assessments in math, science and English language arts. SAGE is unique to Utah and was developed by Utah educators. The first SAGE assessment results were publically released Oct. 27, 2014.

Background

In spring 2014, Utah initiated new computer-adaptive, end-of-year assessments in math, language arts and science for students in grades 3-11. These new tests are aligned to the Utah Core Standards. The new assessments are designed to be more rigorous and, since they are computer-adaptive, to better pinpoint academic performance.

Hundreds of educators were involved in the development of SAGE. Educators participated in the development of test questions and reviewed potential questions for alignment to the standards and to ensure questions were fair to all students. Educators also participated in a week-long, standard-setting process. Standard setting included a thorough and intensive review of test results to determine benchmarks for proficiency levels in every assessment.

In a May 2014 survey, UEA members expressed concerns with SAGE testing. UEA representatives shared those concerns with USOE, specifically requesting that the Utah State Board of Education address, correct or implement the following critical issues related to SAGE testing:

  • Technical glitches;
  • Technology infrastructure;
  • Accommodations for special education students;
  • Testing protocols;
  • Loss of instructional time required to administer assessments; and
  • Clear communication plan to engage educators.

USOE responded to these concerns with a letter to educators dated June 25, 2014.

2015 SAGE testing to begin in February – Dec. 10, 2014

In 2015, the SAGE writing test will be administered beginning in February. Based on feedback from 2014, changes and improvements have been made to the writing test. Therefore, the 2015 administration will be considered a pilot. This means that the test will have to be hand-scored.

In order to provide immediate SAGE results for all subjects by June, and to accommodate hand-scoring, the writing test will be given in February. However, since it is a pilot test, it should not be used for evaluation this year. Districts have also been advised that, due to the very short time between interim and summative writing tests this year, they should not be used to make decisions about instruction.

UEA raised concerns with the State Office of Education regarding the early administration of the writing test. No decisions have been made about when the writing test will be administered in 2016. For 2016, the writing test should be able to be machine-scored, offering more immediate results and allowing it to be administered later in the year. UEA will continue to work with USOE to ensure that teacher concerns are represented.

School grades to be 'adjusted' – Dec. 9, 2014

The next round of school grades are expected to be released by the end of 2014. Because proficiency rates dropped significantly due to the new, more rigorous SAGE assessment administered in 2014, existing requirements for school grades would have resulted in many more D and F schools. Therefore, the Legislature directed the State Office of Education to alter the calculation of grades by adjusting cut scores such that the distribution of grades for the 2013-14 school year is similar to the distribution of grades for the prior year. While individual schools will not necessarily receive the same grade as last year, this will result in approximately the same number of A’s, B’s and so on across the state.

UEA opposes school grading as oversimplifying the complex operations of schools. UEA also opposes the 2014 adjustment to school grading because it artificially generates a school grade based only on the grade distribution from last year, makes year-to-year comparisons inaccurate and unreliable and does not resolve larger issues of creating a valid and reliable school accountability system. (See more about Grading Schools.)

2014 SAGE Scores – Oct. 27, 2014

The Utah State Office of Education released 2014 SAGE test results to the public on October 27. Individual student scores, as well as district, building and classroom scores were released to teachers and administrators on October 13. USOE has provided schools with resources to help teachers and administrators explain the scores to parents.

Student scores are not available to parents electronically. In other words, parents cannot log on to a website and view their student’s score. Districts determine how to release student scores to parents...for example, in parent-teacher conferences or at a parent night at the school. Teachers will need to be familiar with the SAGE Student Level Report to help parents understand their child’s score.

Proficiency levels are much lower on SAGE than in previous CRT results. View the complete 2014 statewide SAGE test results.

Pass Rate of Summative Testing

2013 CRT

2014 SAGE

3-8 ELA

83%

42%

3-8 Math

79%

42%

This was expected because the same pattern occurred in other states that have shifted to more challenging tests based on more rigorous standards. It is a reflection of increased rigor. It is anticipated that student scores will increase over time.

Student results are reported as both a Scale Score and a Proficiency Level.

  • Scale scores indicate the individual level of what a student knows and is able to do.
  • Math and ELA (but not science) include vertical scales, linking student progress over time.
  • Proficiency levels interpret the scale score into categories:
    • Below Proficient (Level 1)
    • Approaching Proficient (Level 2)
    • Proficient (Level 3)
    • Highly Proficient (Level 4)

Interpreting the Data

Comparing SAGE scores to CRT scores is not valid because the assessments are so different. Year-to-year trend data will not be valid this year, but will be available in later years. Therefore, 2014 SAGE scores cannot reliably indicate whether a student improved or declined in math or another subject from 2013 to 2014. 

SAGE Resources
  • UEA SAGE Webinars