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Making the move to standards-based grading: How we did it & what we learned

E-School News – Georgia Omer

“Traditional letter grades have been around since the beginning of the 20th century. Today’s parents received As, Bs, and Cs from their teachers when they were in school, and most parents expect to see similar letters on their child’s report card. Yet, for years my district—Alpine (UT) School District—struggled to justify our traditional grading model. We felt as though letter grades were losing meaning and leading to less personalized instruction. As someone who taught for many years, I watched traditional grading struggle to tell students, parents, and teachers the whole story. Simply put, it didn’t guide instruction.” (more)

No more math drills: Suggestions for helping your child excel in math

KSL – Cosette Jarrett

“Situation: Your kiddo comes home from school with math homework that reads like a foreign language to you. It’s been years since you’ve stepped foot in a math class and you’re puzzled on how to best help. Sound familiar? The good news is Utah educators say you don’t have to feel anxious or frustrated during math homework time, nor do your children. Teachers and administrators understand that parents may face some math anxiety déjà vu from their time in school, but math content instruction has only improved over the years.” (more)

Reading to your children: a special time to learn

The Daily Extra – Lydia Olsen

“We all can remember those special times when a story was read to us, whether at home by somebody we love, at school, or maybe at the library. The story came to life, and we were enthralled with the words. The magic of story reading is a powerful tool. At least 55 percent of Utah’s parents read to their children ages 0-5 everyday compared to 47.9 percent of the nation, according to a survey conducted by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention National Center of Health Statistics. Why does reading aloud matter so much? Those children in the 55 percent of Utah families who are read to daily are developing literacy skills and language awareness. They have larger vocabularies, which at age 3 is a large predictor of language skill and reading comprehension for ages 9 and 10. But the benefits of reading aloud aren’t just linguistic; spending that time together can also build relationships between parents and children.”(more)

Personalized learning isn’t just for math — it boosts literacy, too

Education Dive – Autumn A. Arnett

“In Utah, the UPSTART program provides early literacy interventions via technology to students across the state, free of charge. Despite connectivity deserts, sometimes language barriers, and poverty in many cases, four- and five-year-olds in the state all have access to the program which seeks to close the literacy gap before these students enter Kindergarten. Utah’s UPSTART program is funded by the state legislature, because literacy is an educational priority of the state.”(more)

Higher standards are leading to higher math scores in Utah

The Cache Valley Daily – Eric Frandsen

“Efforts to improve grade-level proficiency across multiple disciplines have been underway for many years in Utah schools. They have taken different approaches and adopted different names over the years. With math education, those efforts seem to be paying off. According to a recent report, the number of Utah students in grades 3 through 8 on grade level increased 1.5 percentage points in English Language Arts and 2 percentage points in Math, compared to students last year. Joleigh Honey, President of the Utah Council of Teachers of Mathematics, says these numbers didn’t go up because teachers made it easier on students. It was quite the contrary.”(more)

Policy, Pilots and the Path to Competency-Based Education: A Tale of Three States

Education Next – Karla Phillips and Carri Schneider

“Our nation’s traditional, time-based education system advances students based primarily on their age, regardless of their depth of understanding. By not ensuring mastery, the current system pushes students forward who are not yet ready, leaving them with gaps in critical knowledge or fundamental skills that must be remedied later. At the same time, the traditional system often prevents students from engaging more deeply in their interests, excelling when they are ready, or pursuing additional academic challenges. Over time, this outdated education system repeatedly fails far too many students. A different approach gaining interest is competency-based education (CBE), a system where students advance to higher levels of learning when they demonstrate mastery of concepts and skills regardless of time, place, or pace. (Note: The terms competency, proficiency and mastery are often used interchangeably.).”(more)