RISE Glitches Mean No Letter Grades For Utah Schools

Jan 2, 2020, 6:58 PM | Updated: 7:05 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Statewide school report cards have been published, but they’re missing the letter grade used to rate the school’s overall performance.

The Utah State Board of Education hoped to get lawmakers’ permission to forego the letter grade for the 2018-19 school year after several glitches during RISE testing last spring.

The school report cards were published Thursday.

“I think it’s a good day,” said Darin Nielsen, assistant superintendent of student learning Board of Education.

Even without the letter grade, Nielsen said there was enough information to determine how the schools performed.

“We encourage parents to look at the data on achievement on student growth, on progress of our English Language learners, on attendance rates at school,” he said.

Several students in third through eighth grades experienced technical glitches while taking the RISE tests (Readiness, Improvement, Success and Empowerment). Some of the problems included tests freezing on students and answer choices not loading.

“If I’m one of those students who was involved in that, or was impacted by that, or if one of my children was impacted by that, then it’s a big deal,” Nielsen said of the frustrations test takers experienced.

The Utah State Board of Education, ended their contract with the test administrator, Questar, after the incident. This was the first year Questar was in charge of administering the test.

After three studies, the Board determined the test scores were valid. The reviews were conducted internally with support from the Jordan and the Salt Lake City School Districts, test administrators, and a consulting agency contracted by the Board.

“There are certainly costs associated with it, but we didn’t have to modify contracts or seek additional revenue,” Nielsen said.

The test administrator was responsible for financing the costs of their reviews.

Nielsen said the number of students impacted are a small percentage but the impact was disproportionate.

“We can’t rule out the fact that there were some schools that were impacted disproportionately to others,” he said.

Some schools did not have problems, including high schools – but none were assigned letter grades, pending lawmakers’ permission.

“We’ll publish letters unless otherwise given authority not to,” Nielsen said.

The report cards can be found online at

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RISE Glitches Mean No Letter Grades For Utah Schools