Students report on SAGE

I received an email yesterday from someone sharing her 17 year old nephew’s experience in taking the SAGE test. Not only are SAGE tests poorly designed, but as has been reported, presentation of material is one-sided which opens up the possibility of pushing an agenda (which we already know is at work through the origins of Common Core).

“I tried to give the SAGE test a chance. It was just going to be another test that I have to take. But after taking most of the English section, I’m realizing how little thought was put into its development. They take a completely wrong approach to testing, and the software is terrible. The essays essentially say, “Read the passages, then write an argumentative essay on the history of dirt. Make sure to include the opposition.” The questions are boring, irrelevant to the context, and many are unnecessarily difficult. The passages are poorly written, and are way too long for the time given to take the test. They don’t need to be as long as they are to test the abilities that they’re assessing. What really kills me is the “listening” questions, which talk in monotone voices that are set in random situations, and don’t supply much relevant information. The questions barely relate to the audio, and some make you infer data from charts that barely have anything to do with the audio. You still have to pay attention to the audio, however, because there are a couple fact questions, like “Which of the following approaches did the teacher use with the student?” (which sounds more like teaching theory than an English question). The audio starts immediately, and doesn’t give a chance to read the questions without stopping the audio. Without stopping it, you have to listen with no clue what to look for and then try to remember what you heard, try to listen and read the questions at the same time, or re-listen. Stopping the audio makes you re-listen to the entire thing, even though there’s no time to listen in the first place. My list of unimpressive observations goes on and on. And I’m pretty sure SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence) just added the “Excellence” to the name so it wouldn’t be SAG. The whole thing is just made up of unthought-through, irrelevant components, and is an inefficient waste of time.”

When asked if any of the questions seemed political, he replied:

“The essays seemed geared toward our demographic, making some of us argue the importance of sleep habits, etc., however I haven’t encountered anything really political. Yet. The test isn’t the same for everyone, however, so it’s possible others have had political questions/essays. And the essays are very one-sided. While you’re technically allowed to argue either side, they only supply information promoting one side, and you’re only allowed to reference information from the supplied passages.”

Another student on the same feed posted this:

“When I took this test I had to write an argumentative essay on what the government should fund: scientific exploration of bees or gardening and farming education. That, in my opinion is a super lame choice. I was also really frustrated that I couldn’t do tabs, to keep my thoughts organized I had to do 2 spaces instead and who knows if they’ll take points off for that or not. Is that grammatically correct? Before I took the test, I asked my teacher what this test has to do with anything and apparently if I fail, I still move on to the next grade; if I fail, nobody cares. If I fail my grade still stays the same. My teacher, like most teachers, graded for participation and the outline of the essay. I was also really confused on the essay question when it said “use 30 minutes to read the passages and write an essay on it” and by the time I was done reading the passages, 20(ish) minutes passed. This left 10 minutes to plan and write the essay(not that the time was enforced anyway). What? Really? I was just confused…”

16 thoughts on “Students report on SAGE”

  1. I am an English teacher who is appalled at the poor quality of the SAGE essay format described by these two students. I was impressed with both students’ letters and amused by the comment about the lack of “Excellence” in the “SAG” test.

  2. I am confused myself. I hear all these comments against SAGE, but when I asked my 14 year old grand-daughter what she thought about the test she said that she loves the SAGE test, she can’t wait for the test to begin.

  3. Didn’t they say it would cost the district $5,000 to replace the one leaked SAGE question?

    Are we really paying $5,000 a question for this?

    No wonder they don’t want anyone to see the test; it’s terrible.

  4. My 5th grade daughter shared that her essay question for the SAGE test was in response to an article about why the new Common Core Standards and curriculum promote creativity in students! Needless to say, I opted all of my children out of the remainder of the testing. The more I learn about this, the more appalled I am. I feel so sorry for the teachers who truly have a passion for teaching and are no longer able to, and I feel sorry for the kids who are sent to school to learn how to take endless tests. Creativity stifled. Learning to regurgitate nonsense abounds, but certainly not creativity or honest thinking. It was easy to opt my kids out and they are loving the free time to read, draw, or get checked out of school all-together for lunch with mom:-)

    1. Mary,

      I have shared this experience of your child with others. I have had 5th grade teachers challenge its truth. They tell me that they have seen the test questions and that this question doesn’t exist, that this is a misperception of a child. Can you somehow validate? I appreciate your help!

  5. More teenage responses to Sage Testing:

    A couple of Junior High and High School students, including my daughter,
    complained that they do not like not being able to go back and check their
    answers on the Sage Testing. Also one young lady stated, “I’ve been taught
    in the past that if I don’t know how to solve a problem right away that I
    should skip it and go back to it later, but now I can’t.” Sage testing
    doesn’t allow for either of these options and it’s very frustrating to these

    1. In order to go back to the question, a student must flag the question. Then they are allowed to go back to questions. I haven’t seen any of the tests that they could couldn’t go back to other questions. Another problem with the test is that some teachers don’t teach how to use the tools on the test, such as those I previously mentioned. I too am against the SAGE and I opted my child out. I am an aid at our Elementary school. The teacher that I work with and myself have been teaching how to use the tools (such as flagging a questions, highlighting parts of passages, etc.). If the kids are forced to take the test, the least we can do is make it as painless as possible for those whose parents aren’t involved enough to opt them out.

  6. I opted my children out of SAGE testing but not until after I attended the meetings the schools hosted for education on the SAGE tests. I did not appreciate the attempts from the principles of the schools to pursway me to change my mind. I have done my homework on educating myself about the tests. I was ready to stand my ground. This is not the reason for my post though. My 6th grader came home and said that he was being questioned by his classmates as to why he didn’t have to take the tests. He responded with his basic knowledge of why we opted him out. His classmates said that they needed to take the test in order to move to the 7th grade. I laughed at their response. But this is why I chose to post today. My heart soars with happiness as well as sadness. My sons teacher told him that we as his parents were smart to have him opted out. We need to help our great teachers who know this is wrong.  His teacher has to do this to provide for the family but is having to teach this common core crap. It must be so hard for my sons teacher to battle every day going to work.  Doing something he loves but having to teach something he hates.  
    I sincerely hope that we can make a difference in the lives of those around who are completely ignorant about common core.

    1. I too have to go to work everyday and keep my mouth shut. (I don’t know that I will going back as an aid next year.). I was handed a copy of a memo from Superintendent Menlove today from our principal. It states “those who inappropriately encourage or facilitate opting-out will be referred to the Utah Professional Practices Commission for possible action against their teaching license.” I had a sick feeling all afternoon!

  7. My son opted his kids out. His daughter told her math teacher she wouldn’t be taking the test. He replied “Good for you”. For some teachers it’s all about correct teaching. His son told his fifth grade teacher he wouldn’t be taking the test. She replied “Well, then you won’t be able to graduate”. For some teachers it’s all about the flawed tests.

  8. I spoke with a friend who teaches in Jordan District yesterday. She has opted her own children out of the Sage test and would love nothing more than to tell her class to have their parents opt them out as well. But of course she can’t.

  9. I was a long term sub for several years and after an assignment a couple of years ago I decided then that it was time for me to go back to college and gain more education for myself and family. I will be having my children doing dual enrollment this next year. I will be teaching core classes at home and will continue to allow them to have their social life at school as well as opening their schedule up for more classes like music, wood shop, computes and other things that interest them. I have wanted to home school my children for some time now but never had the courage to do it. I am excited to finally take charge of my children’s education and allow them to be better than what the government has designed for them.

  10. My friend’s nephew Tyler had to take this test. He had to write an informative essay about light bulbs. Does that not sound boring?

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