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Posted: 7:30 AM- Utah ranks among the bottom eight states in the country when it comes to education, according to a report released today.
The http://www.edweek.org/ew/index.html" Target="_BLANK">Education Week report gave Utah an overall grade of C minus. The national average was a C. Mainly, the report docked Utah for issues with early childhood education, college readiness and per pupil spending. The report also, however, ranked Utah first in the nation for high school graduation rates.
"I think the report reinforces in some ways what parents already know," State Superintendent Patti Harrington said. "Shining flashlights in areas that are dark and troubled is a good practice. These reports help us to understand how we're viewed by a third party."
The report ranked states based on six major areas: chance for success; K-12 achievement; standards, assessments and accountability; transitions and alignment; teaching profession; and school finance.
Harrington said she's not surprised Utah received a D for school finance and a ranking of 48th in the nation. It's no secret that Utah spends less money per pupil than most states.
She said she was a bit surprised the report gave Utah an F for issues relating to early childhood education, postsecondary education and economy and work force. The report docked Utah for not having certain definitions and programs in place and not having strong enough connections between high school requirements and colleges/ the work force. Utah ranked 49th in the nation for those issues.
Luckily, she said, her office can help put certain definitions in place if needed. She said the state is also already working to address several other issues. For example, the state recently aligned early-learning standards to K-12 standards, just produced a career pathways book to help students better understand how to transition from high school to careers, and an alliance of state leaders is tinkering with ways to better connect assessments to college preparation.
Though the report gave Utah low marks overall, it also highlighted a few bright spots. Utah outperforms most states when it comes to giving children the best chance for lifelong success, thanks to healthy parental incomes, education levels and employment, among other things, according to the report. The report also put Utah's high school graduation rate at 83.8 percent compared with 69.9 percent nationally.
Harrington said that percentage largely has to do with how the report calculated graduation rates. She said there's still need for improvement especially in graduation rates for Latino students, which fall between 50 and 60 percent.
The report also ranked Utah 36th in the nation when it comes to paying teachers what other professionals with comparable occupations make. According to the report, Utah teachers make an average of 86.7 cents for every dollar earned in 16 comparable occupations.