SAGE Validity Test FAILS Utah

SAGE Validity Test Discourages Use of Student Test Scores

By Brian Halladay and Wendy Hart

Board Members, Alpine School District

Florida has done what Utah has been afraid to do. They have performed a validity test on the SAGE test administered by the American Institutes for Research (AIR) on the assessments of grades 3-10 ELA, grades 3-8 math, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry.

The validity test, performed by Alpine Testing and EdCount, was performed to test whether or not the test scores were valid for a specific use. In other words, does the test work or not?

Once the validity test was completed, Alpine Testing and Edcounts reported their findings to the Florida Senate K-12 Committee on September 17, 2015. The full video can be seen here.

What significance does this have for Utah? As can be seen from the video (and in their report) the field testing wasn’t performed primarily on Florida’s test. They used Utah’s test (thank you, Florida, for paying for Utah’s validity test.)

What Alpine Testing said in their comments to Florida is astounding. I have outlined some key points from the video:

At 44:50- Many items found in the test didn’t align with the standard that was being tested.

At 47:70: Test scores should only be used at an aggregate level.

At 48:15 – They recommend AGAINST using test scores for individual student decisions.

At 1:01:00 – They admit that “test scores should not be used as a sole determinant in decisions such as the prevention of advancement to the next grade, graduation eligibility, or placement in a remedial course.”

At 1:20:00 – “There is data than can be looked at that shows that the use of these test scores would not be appropriate

Alpine Testing was the only company that applied to perform the validity study for Florida. Once awarded the contract, they teamed with EdCount, the founder of which had previously worked for AIR.

So, what we have is a questionably independent group stating that this test should not be used for individual students, but it’s ok for the aggregate data to be used for schools and teacher evaluations. If this sounds absurd, it’s because it is. If it’s been shown that this test isn’t good for students, why would we be comfortable using it for the grading or funding of our schools and teachers? The sum of individual bad data can’t give us good data. Nor should we expect it to.

What more evidence is needed by our State Board, Legislature or Governor to determine that our students shouldn’t be taking the SAGE test? This test is a failure. How much longer will our children and our state (and numerous other states) spend countless time and resources in support of a failed test, or teaching to a failed test?

Utah deserves more. Our children deserve more than to waste their time with this nonsense. Opt your children out of this test, write your State School Board, Legislators and Governor and let’s put our focus on what works best for the education of our children.


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26 thoughts on “SAGE Validity Test FAILS Utah”

  1. Let us not forget that SAGE is also being used in TN and AZ. AIR signed a lease agreement with Utah to lease these assessments for FL, TN and AZ. I have verified that the new assessments in TN have not been tested for validity or reliability. I was told that will be done AFTER the students take the test in the spring. WHAT? That is using our kids at test lab rats. And our children’s future, teachers future and the future of the schools are dependent on garbage data. But what we must also not forget. The data from these tests has nothing to do with achievement and everything to do with measuring the attitudes, beliefs, values, perseverance, grit and tenacity so they can use that data to change all of the above to fit their objective.

  2. Try to wrap your head around this idea … SAGE tests on … wait for it … math … language … and science. GASP! And the weirdest part is that I teach the kids fractions during the year and they get tested on … fractions. GASP! And even crazier — I teach them about moon phases and they get tested on … moon phases. GASP!

    You guys crack me up with your fear tactics. And to your talking points — every teacher knows you don’t use one test as your sole data source. It is just one indicator that you combine with other indicators to make an assessment of a child’s progress.

    Get over yourselves. It’s just a test.

    1. It’s not just a test. It’s a data collection tool and a behavioral assessment. It’s also an invalid instrument so says an independent evaluation.

      1. Everything is a data collection tool. I don’t see you out demanding we all stop using credit cards because they are collecting our financial information and shopping habits.

        It is not an invalid instrument. The independent evaluation cited says you shouldn’t use it for specific purposes … purposes we wouldn’t use it for anyway. It is simply an indicator … and that is how it is used in Utah schools.

        1. The Obama administration has specifically relaxed FERPA laws to enable sharing of children’s personally identifiable information. Data collection on minors and sharing of that data with 3rd parties without parental knowledge and consent has been intentionally compromised. Behavioral data in a massive statewide longitudinal database the feds paid for creates massive opportunities for exploitation and no database is secure from hackers. If you want to protect children’s data, they shouldn’t be taking SAGE.

          1. Right … because the same hackers couldn’t just hack the school district and get the information there.

            What personal or behavioral information are you afraid of hackers getting? How they answer questions about the seasons? Their first and last name? It’s not like they are taking an FBI personality profile assessment before each test.

          2. By the way, did you gloss over that first comment on the video where the testing company notes that many items found in the test didn’t align with the standard that was being tested? That seems problematic. :)

          1. My teacher grade comes from a combination of many sources, and SAGE is NOT at the top of the priority list. My assessment typically comes from growth that my students have shown over the year and is measured by formative and summative assessments given in class.

          2. It is much more attractive to hackers to go after one large database of information, but that is not the chief concern for me. My concern is a data profile, especially an invalid one, following my child through their education and career and affecting their opportunities. What if that credit data you refer to was incorrect and kept you from purchasing a home, a car or being trusted with a job? Finally, I did see the test as a parent reviewer and while there is some basic academic stuff in there, there was also some things that concerned me. I hope all parents will look into the education reformer’s definitions of “grit and tenacity” because what may sound good on the surface (I don’t think it’s ever the role of the State) looks more like values conditioning to me… Values that don’t align with mine

          3. Again, I don’t understand what the big fear is. There is no data profile that is affecting your child’s opportunities. SAGE scores are not used to determine which classes your student can take, are not used to determine which college they can go to, and are not used to decide whether they get to be an engineer or fast food worker. Again, they are simply an indicator that are used in conjunction with many other indicators – formative and summative assessments, teacher observations, etc.

            I don’t know which test you saw as a parent reviewer, but there is NOT “some academic stuff” in there. The entire test is academic. There is no value conditioning whatsoever. There is nothing value related at all. I guess I can only speak to the elementary version since that is what I teach, but I haven’t had any complaints from my junior high or high school kids about it either.

            You have to understand that this test is given ONCE a year. Even if value conditioning was present
            (which it’s not), they would see it once a year. They are bombarded with “value conditioning” every single day on billboards, tv, music, etc. It would be so much more beneficial for all of you to put your time and energy into bringing real change to those areas of society that truly affect our kids on a daily basis.

    2. Rational thinker. We must be a bunch of common core crazies raising legitimate issues regarding the Sage testing. Your smug attitude is common to many within the system who are not willing to engage in a rational conversation without personalizing it. “Get over yourselves?” Come on. You are part of a big problem and do not have eyes to see the bigger picture. Maybe you never will. These parents and professionals are anything but full of themselves. You must know that.

      1. I don’t know that. I really don’t. I am about as conservative as they come, but the fear over Common Core and SAGE testing is completely irrational. It’s those of you outside the system that don’t understand what is going on. I don’t expect my accountant to take financial advice from me just because I am a “professional.” I don’t expect my dad to adjust his safety engineering protocols based on my “professional” advice as an educator.

        Common Core is no different than any other standards-based curriculum we’ve ever had. When we made the switch from the Utah Core to Common Core, very little changed. Most of the changes were just a shuffle of standards from one grade level to another. Those who rally against it, in my opinion, are just looking for something to complain about and really don’t have a clue about what goes on in the schools. I’ve asked this question a million times — which standards don’t you approve of?

        And SAGE testing … same thing. It just tests math, language, and science. It’s a hard test. It makes the kids think at higher levels. That’s good. You are simply looking for a reason to be upset about it.

      2. I do apologize for saying, “Get over yourselves.” I shouldn’t have said that. I am just so frustrated by this whole movement and by the sheep who are simply copying and pasting political talking points without any kind of real knowledge about the situation.

        I am leaving the discussion now and won’t be back. I vented and said my peace, and now I’m going to go bowling with my kids. Have a great day.

        1. As an”educator”, I would think you would think understand the proper usage of the the word “Piece” vs “Peace”.
          Glad my kids aren’t in your class. My 4th grader know the difference.

          1. Actually, I used “peace” correctly. “Said my piece” would imply that I’ve had the opportunity to make my part of the statement on the subject. “Said my peace” would imply that I’ve had the opportunity to speak and set my mind at ease. I hope you enjoyed your lesson for the day.

            I am also glad your 4th grader isn’t in my class. If he/she was, I’d have to point out his/her dad, in a reply criticizing grammar, used the word “think” one too many times, put the period outside the quotation marks, and forgot to add an “s” to the word “know.”

  3. Oh, and one more thing:

    To Karen’s comment …

    “The data from these tests has nothing to do with achievement and everything to do with measuring the attitudes, beliefs, values, perseverance, grit and tenacity …”

    The data absolutely has everything to do with achievement, and nothing to do with attitudes, beliefs, and values. It simply asks them math, language, and science questions. Have you seen the test? I have … and there is nothing on there but content. Now, the perseverance, grit, and tenacity … yes, the test requires higher levels of thinking, so in a way it does test those things, which is a good thing.

  4. Rational Thinker (?) — The issue is that people do NOT like, nor want, nor need continuous government intrusion. Consider that 50 years ago the schools were controlled by the citizens and NOT government like it is today. Consider the tremendous inventions that came about because of the inventiveness and our top position in the world educationally… and now? Not happening. Perhaps you have heard the truism: don’t fix what isn’t broken? Kids in the “old days” did math in their head; many can’t do it today. Have you ever tried to do a math problem using Common Core? Disgusting, complicated, and, frankly, useless if you have to do engineering problems. But, perhaps you sell books for Common Core places? Money is the bottom line.
    Get the government out of the way! PERIOD!!!

    1. I’m all for getting rid of the Department of Education, but that is different than what has been said about SAGE and Common Core. First of all, there is no such thing as a Common Core math problem. There is a standard to teach multiplication. States and districts then take that standard and decide to show more than one way to solve a multiplication problem. Your idea of teaching only one method to solve a problem is the real tragedy. Parents are afraid of multiple strategies because they don’t understand them. Rather than learn them and use the opportunity to look at things in another way, they get online and complain about it. And yes, I have done MANY math problems in the last few years. You know what those problems remind me of? Math. Weird.

  5. Oak, thanks for all you’re doing to get the truth out there. I’m so glad I can see the big picture. We homeschool. No common core and no SAGE tests for us! I’ve lost all faith in the public school system.

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