Under a new bill approved by the legislature's Education Interim Committee yesterday, three school districts would no longer be held to the Utah Performance Assessment System for Students, or UPASS. Instead, they'll continue using a computer adaptive test they've already implemented. The web-based system alters questions according to the student's answers. Brent Thorne is the Superintendent of Sevier School District, which has been using the new system for three years.
"Within a series of an hours time, we know the exact instructional level of every student that takes it, we get instantaneous results. What we are now finding is it also tells us how mush the student grows during a year, so it's causing our teachers now to really differentiate instruction, do flexible group instruction," Thorne said.
So far, the three districts, Sevier, Juab and Logan, have been double testing to comply with UPASS. The State Board of Education would create a new accountability system for districts piloting the new system.
Representative Stephen Urquhart voted against the bill, saying it would undermine UPASS. But bill sponsor Senator Howard Stephenson says that is not the intent.
"I don't see that this is seen as a way to get out from under UPASS because of its inadequacies, but instead is an attempt to improve. I think if anyone were to see the adaptive testing we are talking about you would see that it is head and shoulders above the Iowa test, it is head and shoulders above our current CRTs," Stephenson said.
The full legislature will now consider the bill next legislative session.