New Law Lessens Impact Of SAGE Test On Teachers
With the passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act last year, states may now have more freedom to implement their own education policies. Utah quickly followed this year with two new laws designed to reduce the emphasis on standardized testing in teacher evaluations.
HB 200 and HB 201, introduced by Democratic state Rep. Marie Poulson and signed by Republican Gov. Gary Herbert, will reduce the amount of standardized testing as well. Tami Pyfer, Herbert’s education advisor, said that Utah’s SAGE test was only intended to evaluate students, not teachers.
“Previously, 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation was based on a student’s SAGE score in math, English, and science because those are the only three subjects that are tested in SAGE,” Pyfer said. “The SAGE test was never designed to be used to evaluate teachers; it’s designed to measure growth and knowledge of students.”
Under the Every Child Succeeds Act, states are still required to submit accountability plans to the U.S. Department of Education. Pyfer said that Utah now has a flexibility that was not there under No Child Left Behind.
“The exciting thing about this is that the changes to ESSA, which is the new law that replaced No Child Left Behind, those changes are what has made it possible for us to do this in the state,” she said. “It has given more flexibility to the states to determine their own accountability systems, to determine their testing systems. We are now able to make a difference in lowering the amount of tests we take and lowering the high stakes that are attached to tests in Utah.”
School districts in Utah may now also choose to just give the ACT test instead of the state’s SAGE test to their eleventh graders.