Weekly Math Updates

June 14, 2007


  • Media Articles
  • Colmes Interview
  • Utah State Law

Media Articles

Are state skills-test numbers wrong? by Jennifer Toomer-Cook

Whoops, how'd we let Investigations graduates into the test grading functions?

      The State Office of Education's count of graduating seniors passing the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test doesn't align with district reports.
      The state's largest school districts are reporting pass rates in the 80 and 90 percent range. They account for about half of Utah's public school enrollment.
      The state, on the other hand, reports a 74 percent pass rate statewide.

One-quarter of graduates fail Basic Skills Competency Test by Jennifer Toomer-Cook

      More than one-fourth of Utah's brand new high school graduates haven't demonstrated they have the basic skills needed for life, according to Utah Basic Skills Competency Test data released Tuesday.
      About 74 percent of the Class of 2007 passed all three sections of that test — reading, writing and math — mandated by state law. That means more than 9,500 teenagers are capping their public school experience with either a diploma bearing a stamp that they didn't pass the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test or worse, a certificate of completion.
      "The idea that one-quarter of the students did not pass one or more of the three test areas is extremely disappointing," said Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, who carried the U-PASS legislation in 2000 to hold schools accountable for student achievement, including the high-stakes basic skills test.

Mixed reviews for Utah students by Jennifer Toomer-Cook

Back to basics folks. The education community in Utah needs to read "They Have Overcome" and apply it here asap.

      Utah's achievement gap appears to be narrowing in some areas, but not in others, since No Child Left Behind took effect in 2002.
      A report issued Tuesday by the Center on Education Policy shows the gap between low-income and more well-off students narrowed in reading and math. Reading gaps between Hispanics and whites also narrowed in elementary, middle and high school grades examined.
      But when you look at Utah's performance based on average test scores — called effect size — rather than the percent of students scoring as proficient, the gap between Hispanics and whites actually widened in reading across all grades analyzed.
      And the gap between the relatively few black students in Utah and the overwhelming Caucasian majority is widening no matter how you look at it.
      "It's encouraging news, and it's discouraging news," Mark Peterson, spokesman for the Utah State Office of Education, said of the report. "We're headed in the right direction but not nearly fast enough."

Colmes Interview

For those of you that missed the fun last night, below is a link to the Alan Colme's article. They invited Michael Newdow onto the show as well since he's the "athiest" who is trying to remove "under God" from the pledge of alliegence. I was told the interview would last 20-25 minutes but it was cut pretty short quite a bit so I didn't get to ask a couple more questions I wanted to. I wasn't nervous, for which I'm grateful for your prayers on my behalf, but I also felt not as prepared as I would have liked for the fast paced format where I had little opportunity to shift the discussion to a couple of points I wanted to make. One of the points I was trying to work toward making came from J. Max Wilson's blog which discussed the proposals for the great seal of the United States. You can read it here:


My question was going to be, "If Jefferson really understood the separation of church and state to mean no religious influence in government, why did he want the design of the great seal to be the Children of Israel led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night?"

Oh well, the push to get these posters out will continue.

Click here for audio of the interview (zip format--save to your hard drive then open to get to the audio)

Utah State Law

Here's the text of the Utah State Law and a link to it for those of you interested.

Utah Statute 53A-13-101.4 Study and posting of American Heritage Documents (click for full text)
(4) To increase student understanding of, and familiarity with, American historical documents, public schools may display historically important excerpts from, or copies of, those documents in school classrooms and common areas as appropriate.
(5) There shall be no content-based censorship of American history and heritage documents referred to in this section due to their religious or cultural nature.
(6) Public schools shall display "In God we trust," which is declared in 36 U.S.C. 302 to be the national motto of the United States, in one or more prominent places within each school building.

It's time for us to band together and stand for something good.

Till next week,

Oak Norton


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