Friday, 01 March 2013 20:24

Grade Reconfiguration - Community Information

Grade Reconfiguration - Community Information

Grade reconfiguration will connect students with greater academic opportunities to better prepare them for college and careers. In the 2013-2014 school year, all high school students, grades 9-12, will be educated in high schools. Students in sixth- through eighth grades will be educated in middle schools, and students in kindergarten through fifth grades will be educated in elementary schools. As a result of this grade configuration, high school freshmen will be able to access a more authentic high school experience. Sixth-graders will be able to access academic offerings and more challenging coursework for which they are developmentally ready in middle schools, where high-school preparatory curriculum connects to nurturing supports for early adolescent students.

Buildings and Boundaries

For nearly two years, the Canyons Administration, along with the Canyons Education Association, has examined questions and concerns surrounding the logistics of the plan to reconfigure grades. For example, high schools will increase their populations by about 2,500 students by welcoming freshmen. This has required classroom expansions at Brighton and Hillcrest high schools. It also has required the addition of the first traditional public high school to be located in Draper, Corner Canyon High School, which will open in fall 2013. In the 2013-2014 school year, school enrollments will be balanced and feeder patterns realigned to better connect neighborhoods with neighborhood schools. These adjustments are based on the work and recommendations of a Boundary Steering Committee of parents and employees, created by the Board of Education in 2010. The new boundaries will accommodate for decades of growth in some pockets of the District, the relocation of Crescent View Middle School to the growing community of Draper, smaller elementary school enrollments due to grade reconfiguration, and the addition of ninth grade in high schools in fall 2013.


Why reconfigure grades?

Grade reconfiguration will connect students with greater academic opportunities to better prepare them for college and the workforce. High school freshmen will be able to access a more authentic high school experience. Sixth-graders will be able to access academic offerings and more challenging coursework for which they are developmentally ready in middle schools.

What research supports grade reconfiguration?

College is no longer a dream of the few. According to the U.S. Department of Education, about 90 percent of the fastest growing jobs of the future will require education or training beyond high school.

Canyons’ college- and career-ready framework aims to better connect students to educational opportunities. Research tells us that the education students receive in middle school and high school is critical to their success. According to research from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), college success is predicted in the following ways:

  • Ensuring that students understand what constitutes a college-ready curriculum by 9th grade, and providing them with courses and curricula that prepare them for college-level work
  • Using assessment measures throughout high school so that students are aware of how prepared they are for college, and assist them in overcoming deficiencies as they are identified
  • Surrounding students with adults and peers who build and support their college-going aspirations

ACT research contained in the 2008 publication, “The Forgotten Middle,” also tells us that “the level of academic achievement that students attain by eighth grade has a larger impact on their college and career readiness by the time they graduate from high school than anything that happens academically in high school. Making sure that all eighth-grade students have attained the knowledge and skills that put them on target to becoming ready for college and career is the single most important step that can be taken to improve their college and career readiness.”

Data gleaned in a 2009 Dan Jones & Associates Survey of Canyons School District parents show parents are most concerned about the quality and rigor of middle schools. On a scale of 1-5, parents ranked as the most important attributes of middle schools:

  • a rigorous curriculum (4.50)
  • a strong emphasis on basics (4.52)

Grade reconfiguration is a critical piece of Canyons’ academic plan Grade reconfiguration will allow Canyons freshmen access to the authentic high school experience, with increased rigor, improved academic counseling, and college-preparation supports, as well as access to the leadership opportunities and activities provided to other high school students. It also allows middle school students to access education in a setting better tailored to the needs of the early adolescent learner, rather than asking middle schools to meet the needs of both middle school students and high school students.

When did the Board decide to reconfigure grades?

The Board of Education, following community meetings and public input, approved the college- and career-ready academic plan in February 2010. The goal: To provide every student with the academic, civic, and social skills they need to succeed in college and careers. The plan included Utah’s first college- and career-ready diplomas, a $250 million bond referendum to update and rebuild Canyons schools, and grade reconfiguration to better connect students to academic opportunities and better prepare them for college and the workforce.

When will grade reconfiguration take effect?

The grades served in each school will reconfigure in fall 2013. Ninth-graders will move to high schools, and sixth-graders will move to middle schools in the 2013-2014 school year.

Why change boundaries too?

By welcoming ninth-graders, high schools will increase their populations by about 2,500 students, and elementary school enrollments will decrease by 2,500 students. Boundaries must change to better balance enrollments districtwide following grade reconfiguration, and to address decades of lopsided population growth within Canyons communities. Boundaries also will adjust to improve school feeder patterns.

Was the public involved in the boundary changes?

The Board of Education created a Boundary Steering Committee in September 2010. The committee of parents, teachers, principals and school staff met weekly in public meetings to draft new boundaries. Draft boundaries were presented to the public for input in spring 2011. At that time, nearly 1,500 community members provided online input on the draft boundaries, and more than 300 attended public open houses to discuss the possibilities. The Boundary Steering Committee studied the public input and created recommendations for the Board of Education for consideration. The Board accepted public input on the recommendations for several months, and voted in fall 2011 and spring 2012 to adjust elementary, middle and high school boundaries. The new boundaries will take effect in the 2013-2014 school year.

Are high schools big enough to accommodate freshmen?

Grade reconfiguration will increase high school enrollments by about 2,500 students when the freshman class moves from middle to high schools. To accommodate the additional students, crews were to work during the 2012-2013 school year to expand facilities at Brighton and Hillcrest High Schools and complete the new Corner Canyon High School in Draper.

How will grade reconfiguration affect elementary schools?

Enrollments in Canyons elementary schools will shrink by about 2,500 students when the sixth-grade moves to middle school and the ninth-grade moves to high school. While grade reconfiguration will reduce enrollments in Canyons elementary schools by about 2,500 students, boundary adjustments were designed to ensure all schools have viable enrollments.

What supports will be available to students?

Middle schools are moving to a grade-level, team-centered educational approach. In this model, grade-level teams of adults teaching core subjects collaborate and work together as they instruct shared students. This helps not only to better connect lessons across different subjects, but to better nurture students through their learning experience. In addition, new middle schools are being designed to keep students in the same grade-level wing of the school. New school boundaries also will do a better job of keeping kids together from one school level to the next.


Last modified on Friday, 01 March 2013 21:41