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The report cards are in for the Ogden area high schools, and with a 1.8 GPA, many are wondering why the grades are so low.
Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed a new accountability system for Utah public and charter schools. The Utah Comprehensive Accountability System was enacted this year, and over the past few months, Utah schools have been receiving their grades.
With more than 56 percent of schools receiving either a B or higher, many are satisfied with their grade. Weber County high schools, however, received a C-minus average, making a lot of people scratch their heads in confusion.
“I am surprised,” said Corbin Spaulding, a former Ben Lomond High School student now enrolled at Weber State University. “They had great teachers that would do anything to help me out and prepare me. I felt very prepared after graduating high school.”
Despite Spaulding’s positive experience, the grades given to the schools remain the same. The UCAS grades schools in their proficiencies in three main areas: math, English and science; improvement in standardized tests from one year to the next; and overall graduation rates.
In the latest round of assessments, Ogden High School received a C. Principal Stacey Briggs and her staff are working nonstop to fix this problem. Among many other programs and efforts by the administration, Briggs has implemented two main programs: a new instructional model to ensure proficiency in subject matter, and a tracker to improve graduation rates.
The new instructional model is customizable to each student and is designed to ensure understanding in each subject area.
“Once we have established the level of each student,” Briggs said, “we plan a six-week reviewing and reteaching cycle in the class, as well as teaching the new standards. . . . For those students who need individual intervention, we create an action plan for them and watch them until they have mastered the content.”
The principal and her staff hope to increase graduation rates by organizing students by year and breaking down each grade.
“We would like to see a 95 to a 98 percent graduation rate,” Briggs said. “Right now we are very close to a 90 percent.”
Briggs and her staff work through the new program to improve these numbers.
“We keep track by every single grade and every student. We know how many are on track for graduation, and I know which kids need work to get on track for graduation.”
WSU is also doing its part to help the local schools improve. The Jerry and Vickie Moyes College of Education works hard each semester to educate future teachers. This process is not easy, but helps ensure that the students are ready once they enter the classroom.
“Students are competitively admitted to the program and take courses to prepare them to eventually work in the classroom,” said Louise Moulding, associate professor and curriculum director in the College of Education. “Secondary educators major in their content area, and students come here to take one semester in pedagogy. They are taught about accommodating students with disabilities, understanding diversity, and are taught to prepare lesson plans and how to assess student(s).”
Once the students have gone through this process, they are each put into a classroom to student-teach. According to Moulding, this is where the most important part of the course comes into play.
“This is where students start learning how to pair theory in the courses with practical applications in the classroom.”
Ogden High School and other schools will have to wait until next year to see if their efforts have paid off. The new UCAS program, as well as the grades given to each school, can be read in full description and detail at www.schools.utah.gov.