Thursday, March 27, 2014

SAGE Issues

Please send issues and concerns about SAGE to the UEA president at  There were some major problems with testing yesterday.  See the response from USOE and AIR below.

We have been working with AIR today and this evening to investigate, diagnose, and respond to today’s testing problems.  After receiving an update from AIR this evening, they have assured us that all server problems contributing to the SAGE system issues seen yesterday and today, have been resolved and that testing can proceed as scheduled tomorrow. 

 AIR has provided the following response to Utah’s concerns:


SAGE Summative -3/26/14 System Disruption Update

AIR has identified and corrected the cause of the issues experienced today in some schools. After making the correction late this afternoon, AIR continued to closely monitor the servers. The performance of the servers immediately returned to their normal operating state. We are confident that students should not experience any further problems related to the SAGE servers. We will be monitoring the system closely throughout the day tomorrow. Additionally, AIR is confident that no student data was lost. If you have any concerns about student data, or if you want to report any other concern, please call AIR’s Help Desk at 1-855-570-7239. Thank you for your patience.


SAGE Help Desk Improvement -3/26/14 Update

AIR is committed to providing Utah teachers, test proctors, and students with the best possible customer service and timely information from our Help Desk.  In support of ongoing process improvement we are working with USOE to update all our Help Desk reference materials to ensure they are consistent with USOE testing policy and reflect the system requirements of SAGE. Help Desk staff will be retrained on updated communication protocols and SAGE-specific reference materials. Knowing how important timely responses are to the schools, AIR is adding additional Help Desk staff that will be dedicated to the SAGE program.


Julie Quinn
Test Administration and Reporting
Assessment and Accountability
Utah State Office of Education 




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Kim Burningham on the Utah Legislature

This was sent to me by UEA President Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh.  Mr. Burningham has been serving on the State Board of Education, but he is not seeking re-election.  He is a voice for students and teachers and will be missed.


Dear friends:

(Note: In this email, Mr. Burningham speaks in his own behalf; the point of view expressed in this blog does not necessarily represent any organization of which he is a part.)

With the 2014 Utah Legislative session complete, a report card is due.  (After all, if they insist on grading schools, the Legislature itself ought to be graded.)    Many ways to grade exist; my grade is a personal evaluation of how the Legislature did on school issues.

My grade: C-

I could be harsher; others have been. 

Bob Bernick, noted political analyst and former Deseret News reporter now a regular writer for, was one.  On his grading scale of 1-10 “with 10 being the highest of success and promise” Bernick evaluated the session as follows:

            Public education funding = 0

            Public education reform = 5

An editorial evaluation in the Salt Lake Tribune didn’t use grades, but observed: “Education fared better this year than during the Great Recession but not as well as it should.”

The fact is the Utah Legislature basically did more of the same.   You know Utah ranks far below any other state in per-pupil spending.  The best that can be said is the Utah Legislature’s commitment maintains that same rock-bottom status. 

Trying to paint a rosier picture, some will brag about a 2.5 percent increase in the WPU or point to a total dollar increase in education funding.  But much of that increase in funding is for new students; and the WPU increase will do little more than fund basic education and employee health and retirement funds.   The appropriation of the Utah Legislature will not begin to pull Utah out of the basement.

Politicians genuinely interested in strengthening our education system must do something more about the inadequate funding.  The huge class sizes, limited professional development, and meager teacher salaries are outrageous!

One effort to increase education funding received much press.   Speaker Becky Lockhart advocated placing a one-to-one computer device in the hands of every student.   Estimates of the cost of such a program vary.  Lockhart suggested between $200 and $300 million would do the trick.  The Governor’s Office, using a study by his education commission, indicated that figure was way low!

The one-to-one device initiative fell flat.   Many observers fear that the gesture was mostly posturing for political capital in the future.  When Speaker Lockhart was offered a measly $30 million by the Senate for the program, she walked out on the talks.   The ballyhooed effort “got none.”

All of us want to improve public education.  Lower class sizes, increased technology, better training for teachers, and increased opportunities for pre-k students will take significantly more dollars.

Our remarkable teachers are laboring in huge classes, offered insufficient support, awarded  nominal compensation.  Until the Utah Legislature and the Utah public is willing to increase funding, we can expect little more than we now get.  Utah’s children deserve more!   Our economy requires the best education possible. 

I keep hoping and looking for political leadership that will act, not pontificate!   Status quo funding will not make the grade!


Kim Burningham


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Year Round PTC and Caucus Meeting Conflict

I know that C and D Track Parent Teacher Conferences conflict with the Republican Caucus meetings this week.  We have never had this problem before, so I looked into why the problem happened this year. 

In 2010 and prior caucus years, which is every even year, both the Democrats and Republicans held their caucus meetings on the same night, Tuesday.  Due to changes in the Utah Republican Party timelines, the Republican Party chose to move their caucus meeting to Thursday, so they meet after the candidate filing deadline, which is Thursday at 5:00. 

2012 was the first time the two parties met on different nights.  That year, C and D Parent Teacher Conferences were held March 7-9, so there was no conflict.  This is the first year the conflict has occurred. Now the Year Round Committee can be aware of this conflict and plan Parent Teacher Conference dates for weeks other than the third week of March when the caucus meetings are scheduled.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Budget Presentation at Foundation Meeting

Burke Jolley, Deputy Superintendent for Business Services, presented a budget update at the Jordan Education Foundation meeting this week.  While this chart has small print, you can look for some comparisons and understand Jordan District's position a little better. 

Some comparisons of note:  Jordan has the third largest enrollment in the state and received an A+ for transparency as far as readily available information from the district website.  Administrative costs per student are the 4th lowest in the state with overall costs per student being the lowest in the state of Utah.  Jordan is 14th lowest in teacher compensation, yet ahead of Canyons and Granite, including insurance, and Jordan is tied with Cache for the highest student/teacher ratio in the state.

In the budget presentation, Mr. Jolley pointed out that the district appears to have the GASB account fully funded and will be having an actuarial study done to verify that.  There are $17 million in "unassigned reserves", which Mr. Jolley indicated would be used to pay for the financial agreement.