In a few weeks, students throughout Utah will begin taking SAGE tests, those end-of-year exams that show how much students have learned over the course of the year. Why do schools test? What do the results mean, and why should students and parents care?

Answers to these questions and more can be found on a new Canyons District resources page. Anyone curious about the how’s and why’s of testing is encouraged to browse the site, which contains teacher testimonials, infographics, and step-by-step instructions for obtaining and interpreting your child’s test results.

“Testing has always been integral to education. Assessments inform instruction by helping teachers know if educational goals are being met,” explains CSD Research and Assessment Director Hal Sanderson. “They’re an indicator of what’s working in the classroom and what can be done differently. Testing also gives parents a measure of their child’s learning, which along with grades and other measures helps answer the question: Is my child on target and doing well compared to his or her peers?”   

But did you also know that a student’s performance on SAGE in middle school can predict how well he or she will do on the ACT college entrance exam in high school? SAGE, in other words, gives middle schoolers a glimpse at how they’ll do on a high-stakes test in a low-stakes environment when they still have time to go back and re-learn foundational concepts.

Another surprising fact: Very little of the school year is devoted to test-taking. A recent internal audit revealed that Canyons District students spend just 1.2 percent to 2.7 percent of instruction time taking state and district assessments. By comparison, at one sampled Canyons District elementary school, recess accounted for 4.5 percent of the year, 12 percent was devoted to lunch and math instruction occupied 27.3 percent of the year.



This year, the District has made adjustments to further reduce the testing burden on students. The writing exam will take half as long, which along with other changes, should enable us to complete the testing much more quickly, Sanderson says.

The computer adaptive assessments of today have, however, evolved beyond the “bubble” exams of your childhood. One helpful test-taking tip for parents to keep in mind is to remind children that if the test questions seem hard, that means they’re doing well. Just like the ACT college entrance exam, the SAGE test is computer adaptive, which means it adapts to the examinee’s abilities by proposing harder questions when a student gets something correct, and easier questions when the student gives a wrong answer.

As Mount Jordan Middle teacher Kory Crockett explains: “We all know that tests can be stressful. Tests can be hard. But it’s really these hard things in life that help us grow the most. And especially with these end-of-the year tests, they don’t just tell us how much we’ve grown, they tell us how much we’ve grown as a school.”

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Note: Recordings and documents for agenda items can be accessed via BoardDocs by clicking on the corresponding agenda items.


Sixth-Grade Mathematics Curriculum 

In an effort to address a mathematics proficiency-level drop from fifth to sixth grades, the Board of Education approved a proposal by the Canyons District Instructional Supports Department to start using a new sixth-grade math curriculum. The program is called “Illustrative Mathematics” and is an open-education resource developed by leading math researchers. Student and teacher materials are available digitally for free or schools can purchase a consumable student workbook for $22.50 per student. The curriculum was selected in accordance with the District’s curriculum-adoption policy

Disciplinary Fines

In the wake of changes in state law that have made it more difficult for schools to refer children to juvenile court for truancy, drug possession, disorderly conduct and other offenses, Responsive Services Director BJ Weller is proposing a new restorative justice model for reinforcing behavioral standards at CSD’s schools. The model would entail imposing fines for various transgressions as a means of encouraging students to show up for restorative programs. For first offenses, the fines would be waived when students participate in whatever intervention program is required. The fines aren’t meant to be punitive. They’re meant to serve as an incentive, explained Weller. The idea behind restorative practices is to hold students accountable for their actions and to use their transgression as a teachable moment for making a plan to ensure the misbehavior doesn’t happen again. But without the enforcement tools previously available through the courts, there is currently no way to hold students accountable. This year, as of Jan. 31, there have been 63 students cited for substance abuse violations, and only a handful of those completed the District’s Early Intervention Program. The Board will take up the matter again at a future meeting. If approved, the fines, which, depending on the nature of the offense range from $25 to $50, would take effect with the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

CTESS Update

Canyons’ Administrator of Evaluation and Leadership Development Sandra Dahl-Houlihan briefed the Board of Education on continued progress to refine the District’s educator-evaluation system.

Digital Citizenship Week Resolution

The Board of Education approved a resolution to continue sponsoring a districtwide Digital Citizenship Week, the intent of which is to empower students to safely navigate the online world and be responsible digital citizens. This year’s Digital Citizenship Week, Feb. 5-9, is CSD’s third.

Legislative Update

External Relations Director Charles Evans updated the Board on progress with key pieces of education-related bills being weighed during the 2018 General Session of the Utah Legislature. 

Cell Tower

The Board held a second reading of a proposal for a micro cell tower at Ridgecrest Elementary. According to the proposal, the tower would generate an additional $350 a month for the school. Ridgecrest’s School Community Council has given an OK to the proposal, which must be approved by the Board of Education. The proposal, presented by Business Administrator Leon Wilcox, calls for the micro tower to be placed atop a 20-foot light pole in Ridgecrest’s parking lot.  The Board will entertain the proposal at a future meeting.

Pledge of Allegiance and Reverence

The Brookwood Elementary Cub Scout Troop 4605 led the audience in a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and Principal Corrie Barrett gave the reverence. In updating the Board on the state of Brookwood, Barrett said she could list test scores or talk about programs, but chose instead to share the results of an informal survey of parents, teachers and students. Teachers, she said, love the school because they feel part of a focused team that is striving to make a difference in the lives of students. Parents say they chose Brookwood because of the amazing teachers, parental involvement and programs. Students say they like the activities, kind teachers and inclusive atmosphere. “This is a good school where I get a good education,” said one. “Kids are nice and class is fun.”

Consent Agenda

The Board approved the consent agenda, including minutes of the Board’s Jan. 16, 2018 meeting; hire and termination reports; purchasing bids; student overnight travel plans; and new members of the Joint Educator Evaluation Committee.

Arts Education

The Board of Education heard a status update on the health of arts education in Canyons District. CSD Arts Specialist Sharee Jorgensen told the Board that robust arts programs are being provided to students in elementary, middle and high schools. Elementary arts programs reach 14,600 students. This includes the orchestra program, which draws 432 students at 20 locations. In middle school, 123 percent of students participate in an arts-education offering. How is this possible?  Some students take multiple arts class at once, Jorgensen told the Board. Arts courses also reach some 11,677 high school students. In addition, the District enjoys partnerships with the Utah Symphony, Ballet West, the Utah Film Center and the Utah Shakespeare Festival, among other arts organizations. Arts shows and music festivals for students at all levels are being planned for the spring months. 

Recognitions

The Board of Education honored the following students, teachers and staff for their achievements:
  • Albion Middle’s Sandy LeCheminant, Utah Assistant Principal of the Year
  • Eastmont teacher Louis Phillipe Vanier and Jordan Valley Achievement Coach Anne Clyde, who have earned National Board Certified Teacher status. 
  • CTEC Principal Ken Spurlock and teacher Gary Snow, Diesel Technology Program Certification
  • The following CSD Academic All-State student athletes
5A Drill Team
Alexis Kilgore, Corner Canyon

5A Girls Swimming
Olivia Huntzinger, Brighton  
Michaela Page, Brighton  
Ashley Pickford, Corner Canyon 

5A Boys Swimming
Stephen Hood, Alta  
Kevin Metcalf, Jordan

6A Wrestling
Scott Abbott, Hillcrest 

Superintendent, Business Administrator Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe thanked Jorgensen for her hard work and passion for the arts in Canyons District. He also reported on the Job Shadow Day luncheon, featuring keynote Gail Miller. Dr. Briscoe also thanked the CTE coordinators for working so hard to successfully execute the school-to-careers event.  

Mr. Wilcox attended the recent CTEC Open House, held annually to inform the community about the programs offered at the technical-education center. He also commented on the change in health-insurance providers this year, and said the District would be providing additional information to employees.

Board of Education Reports

Mr. Mont Millerberg reported on attending the announcement of LeCheminant as the Utah Assistant Principal of the Year. The ceremony was held in St. George. He also thanked Jorgensen for her work as the coordinator of arts programs in Canyons District

Mr.  Steve Wrigley also expressed appreciation for Jorgensen’s work.  He reported on visiting schools with Utah legislators and attending the CTEC Open House and the Job Shadow Day luncheon at Gardner Village.

Mrs. Amber Shill reported on attending the Utah High School Activities Association’s State Drill Team Championships.  She congratulated all the teams that competed and mentioned the second-place overall finish in 5A by the Brighton High Accadians. She also said she would be hosting a Town Hall with 1st Vice President Nancy Tingey at Butler Middle. 

Mrs. Tingey reported on attending a conference in Washington, D.C. She said she met with Utah’s elected representatives to discuss education-related issues.  She thanked teachers, students and staff for their wonderful work.  She said she’s looking forward to attending Albion Middle’s musical production. Tingey also will hold a 7-8:30 p.m. Feb. 15 Town Hall meeting at Jordan High with Mr. Wrigley.

Mrs. Clareen Arnold thanked Jorgensen for her passion and dedication. 

President Taylor thanked everyone who works hard in CSD to help students achieve — from teachers and custodians to bus drivers to nutrition-service workers. He gave a special shout-out to the secretaries and administrative assistants in offices all across the District. He predicted Canyons District would soon be known as a world-class school district.
Canyons District students are learning how to safely blaze a digital trail. 

Starting today, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, all schools in Canyons District will begin the 3rd annual Digital Citizenship Week, which was started to help students stay safe as they navigate the online world. Special lessons will be taught in classes and morning announcements will feature tips on cyberbullying, online privacy and safety. 

Yes, the Internet is a valuable tool for learning. Every day, 92 percent of teenagers across the United States go online to complete homework assignments, conduct research, and watch tutorials in preparation for exams. But, overwhelmingly, it’s also teens go to make and keep social connections. From Snapchat to Instagram, teens are heavy users of social media. So how can parents make sure their use is responsible? And how can parents guide a pre-teen’s entry into social media? 

Digital Citizenship Week 2018“One of the most important things you can do is sit down with your children before they even begin using social media and set clear ground rules and expectations — and even consequences if those rules are broken,” says Janae Hunt, a Canyons District Education Technology Specialist.

Hunt, who appeared on ABC4 to talk about Digital Citizenship Week, encouraged parents to talk often with their children about the pitfalls of oversharing, teasing and posting too-personal information on social media sites.  Also, think twice before hitting “send” or “enter,” she says.   

“Digital footprints are permanent. A lot of time today, even college admissions boards and employers are looking at your digital trail to see what kind of person you are,” she told ABC4 anchor Emily Clark. “It is important that we are teaching our children to put their best foot forward online.” 

Another idea:  Keep tabs on what your children are posting — and who is part of their “Friends” and “Followers” lists. “Sit down with your kids on a regular basis. Go through those lists. It’s important they are friends with or follow people they know in real life.” 

Should you have your kids’ passwords? “Absolutely,” she says.  Start with an open-door policy and keep it that way: Children should know parents are watching and observing when they post or make comments. They also should know they can go to parents for help if they “see something that makes them uncomfortable.”

CSD’s Internet safety effort started with School Community Councils, which have been given statutory responsibilities regarding digital citizenship in their respective schools. In partnership with SCCs, CSD schools also are planning Parent Information Nights to discuss such issues as the filtering systems used by the District to stop inappropriate content to be accessed at school. Contact your child’s school to find out when and where their event will be held. 

Parents, teachers and students can join the online conversation about Digital Citizenship Week by following the hashtag #usetech4good on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Checkmate! The Mount Jordan Mountaineers raised a flag of victory at the summit of Canyons District’s Middle School Intramural Chess Tournament.

At the end of the Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 tourney, the team from Mount Jordan Middle, coached by Stephen Gordon, ended Midvale Middle’s five-year win streak at the annual competition for the district’s best teen players of the Royal Game. 

The Midvale Trojans finished in second place. Third place was captured by the Butler Middle Bruins. All eight Canyons District middle schools fielded teams for the contest. 

Union Middle Assistant Principal Taylor Hansen, who is overseeing the middle school intramurals competitions this year, said the competitors were well-prepared and displayed exemplary sportsmanship. “There was spirited competition during each round and on every board,” Hansen said.

The following are individual board winners: 
  • 1st Board: Midvale Middle’s Conner Nelson
  • 2nd Board: Mount Jordan Middle’s Asiah Collinson
  • 3rd Board: Midvale Middle’s Cooper Nelson
  • 4th Board: Butler Middle’s Jack Baird
  • 5th Board: (Tie) Mount Jordan’s Oliver Page and Midvale Middle’s Jason Mun
  • 6th Board: Mount Jordan’s Alan Zamora

The CSD middle-school intramural contests were created in 2009 to encourage sixth- through eighth-grade student participation in athletic and extracurricular competitions. The District also sponsors a cross-country meet, a 3-on-3 hoops tournament and a soccer championship.
The calendar may say we’re headed into the month in which we celebrate presidents and valentines, but it’s also time to start thinking about where your preschool-age kiddo could go to preschool in the fall. 

Don’t underestimate the power of play when looking for a preschool for your child, says Terri Mitchell, the Programs Administrator in Canyons District’s Early Childhood Department. “Playtime is amazingly important. It’s one of the best tools that young children have to grow and develop,” Mitchell recently told ABC4 anchor Emily Clark on “Good Morning Utah.”  

In fact, Mitchell said, research shows strong links between creative and imaginative play and language, physical, cognitive and social development. “In preschool, they are learning foundational skills. They will learn patterning, and the quantity of numbers,” Mitchell said. “They also have the opportunity to learn socially.  It may be the first time that they are away from mom and dad and grandma and grandpa.”

As is tradition in Canyons District, robust preschool programs will be provided to the community in the 2018-2019 school year. On Thursday, Feb. 1, CSD will begin accepting applications for spots at preschools at Altara, Bella Vista, Butler, Edgemont, Jordan Valley, Oakdale, Quail Hollow and Willow Springs elementary schools.  Interested? Click here to see the application.

Canyons preschools follow a curriculum that lines up with the core standards of learning at the kindergarten level. This is so that the children who leave preschool have the foundation to meet the challenges of kindergarten. Also, students will be paired in classrooms with students who require special-education services so they can serve as peers and role models in language and social skills 

Cost is $100 per month for students attending two days per week and $200 a month for students attending four days. There’s also a one-time $20 registration fee. Availability for the program in the coming academic year is based on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Morning sessions are from 8:20-10:50 a.m. Afternoon sessions are 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.  

In addition, free school programs are provided at Title I schools. Students who turn 4 years old before Sept. 1, 2018, and live within the boundaries of Midvale, Copperview, Sandy and East Midvale elementary schools can apply to participate. CSD will being taking applications for spots in those preschools on March 1.
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