SAGE Results: What Families Can Expect

In spring 2014, the State Board of Education required all Utah students, beginning in the third grade, to take new state tests. The tests, called SAGE (Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence), were designed to measure more challenging state standards in mathematics, English language arts, and science. SAGE tests also are computer-adaptive, and are designed to measure students’ higher-order thinking skills. By comparison, the CRTs measured old standards and student recall via multiple choice answer sheets. Therefore, SAGE and CRT results cannot be compared.
The State Office of Education publicly announced SAGE results for every Utah school district and school on Oct. 27, 2014. Results show Canyons District students on average outperformed their Utah peers on most of the state-mandated SAGE tests, in some areas by as many as 13 percentage points. Canyons' Draper Park Middle School and Granite Elementary School are ranked No. 1 in the state for their performance on the state-mandated SAGE tests in Language Arts and Science, resepectively. CSD schools appear 19 times in Utah's Top 25 rankings on their respective SAGE test results. Statewide, fewer than half of Utah students scored as proficient in English language arts, mathematics and science.

SAGE results will influence state school accountability reports. The State Office of Education has indicated that most Utah schools will receive D or F grades as a result of these more challenging standards. The State Board of Education will continue to discuss these estimated results with members of the Utah Legislature. School grades are expected to be released to the public in December.

Parents are urged to keep a few things in mind when interpreting these scores:

  • SAGE scores cannot be compared to the CRTs. The tests are different, and measure different standards, or expectations, for student achievement.
  • SAGE tests measure whether students are meeting the state’s higher expectations for college- and career-readiness.
  • When tests that measure higher standards are first introduced, test scores typically appear lower than what parents might be used to, according to the State Office of Education. However, in many cases, test scores gradually improve in the years thereafter, the State Office of Education reports.

In the months following the release of SAGE results, Canyons District parents will receive student achievement reports at their regularly scheduled school conferences, just as they have in previous years. There, parents will be able to ask questions about what SAGE results might mean for their individual children.

Below is some additional information about the SAGE. Should you have questions, please feel free to ask your school leaders, or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


How Should I Interpret My Child’s Scores?

Remember, SAGE tests are new and cannot be compared to old CRT scores. SAGE tests measure Utah’s higher learning expectations, which are designed to make sure students are prepared for college and careers when they graduate high school. Higher expectations often result in lower test scores in the first year students take a new test, the state reports.

However, those scores simply indicate a higher expectation — not a drop in student achievement, view the state reports.

The state uses SAGE tests to determine whether Utah students are learning what they’re supposed to be learning. In that sense, SAGE is a way to measure student performance within the Utah public education system.  On an individual level, it’s important to remember that SAGE results are one of many student performance indicators, including class quizzes and tests, homework assignments, and projects. View the Differences in Assessments

Why Did the State Raise the Standards?

The state adopted the Utah Core Standards in 2010 to ensure that all students will be ready for college, careers, and everyday life when they graduate high school. The standards emphasize deeper analysis and problem-solving skills to prepare students to become informed consumers, critical thinkers, and develop the skills needed for tomorrow’s workforce. View State's plan for Acacdemic Excellence.

What is a Proficiency Level?

SAGE test results are expressed in terms of the number of students scoring as proficient in English language arts, math and science. Proficient means that a student has a strong understanding of challenging content in math, science and English language arts, and that the student is on track to be prepared for college and careers.  

The SAGE proficiency levels are expressed as follows:

Level 4: Highly proficient

Level 3: Proficient

Level 2: Approaching Proficient

Level 1: Below Proficient

Proficiency levels were recommended by a statewide committee, and approved by the State Board of Education in September 2014 The committee had reviewed how well students performed on each question of the SAGE tests and past achievement data on the ACT college entrance test.  Then, the committee determined how many SAGE test questions a student would need to answer correctly to indicate a strong understanding of the content area.

My Children Always Do Well on State Tests. Why Do Their Scores Seem Low Now?

Remember, the SAGE tests are new, and cannot be compared to the CRTs.

The state developed the SAGE tests to measure Utah’s more challenging standards in English language arts, mathematics and science. The SAGE tests are designed to measure higher expectations for student learning and higher-order thinking skills instead of recall.

The State Office of Education reports that declines are common when new standards and statewide exams are first administered. However, the state reports that gradual improvement in student achievement statewide often is observed in future years.

How Will SAGE Results Affect School Grading?

The State Office of Education has indicated that most Utah schools will receive D or F grades in this first year of the SAGE without any changes to school grading definitions. The State Board of Education will continue to discuss these estimated results with members of the Utah Legislature. We recommend parents focus on their child’s individual achievement, celebrate successes, and set individual goals as appropriate for their own child’s success.

How Will Students Who Opted Out of the SAGE Tests Affect a School’s Grade?

The very few students who opted out of the SAGE tests are not included in SAGE results, and will neither help nor hinder school grades or state accountability reports, according to the State Office of Education.

Can SAGE Results Be Compared Nationally?

No. SAGE tests are specifically designed by Utah teachers, parents, and school leaders to measure learning standards in Utah – not those in other states. Therefore, the results cannot be compared from one state to another.

Tests providing national comparisons on student achievement include the ACT and SAT college entrance tests college entrance tests, Advanced Placement test results test results, and the National Assessment for Educational Progress.

How Can I Support My Child?

  • Celebrate your child’s success.
  • Set learning goals with your child.
  • Reassure your child that his or her hard work pays off.
  • Remember:

I Have More Questions. Help!

If you have additional questions, please consult your child’s classroom teacher, school counselor, or principal.
Monday, 10 February 2014 23:48

Third Hillcrest Student Aces ACT

joseph morrellMichelle SimmonsPeter JohnstonIt's a big deal for a school to boast one ACT ace. But three in a single school year? That's what's happening at Hillcrest High School. There, three students have earned perfect scores on the ACT in the 2013-2014 school year.

In January 2014, Junior Joseph Morrell learned he had earned a perfect 36 composite score on the college entrance test. Months prior, senior Michelle Simmons learned she had aced the test. And in the early fall, the same good news came to first-time test-taker and junior Peter Johnston, whose older brother, Micah, last school year also earned a perfect 36 on the college entrance test.

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36. A composite score is the average of all scores in Reading, English, Mathematics, and Science subject tests. Roughly one-tenth of one percent of the some 1.8 million ACT test-takers nationwide receive a perfect score.

All Canyons School District 11th-graders will take the ACT as part of a statewide administration on March 4.

This is the fourth year that all Canyons high school juniors have taken the ACT as part of the Canyons Academic Plan. Since the 2010-2011 school year, Canyons also has provided the ACT EXPLORE exam to all eighth-graders and the ACT PLAN exam to all 10th-graders. The ACT suite is intended to provide parents and teachers with regular feedback about student progress toward college- and career-readiness.

View the Fox13 story about the students achievements.

Monday, 10 February 2014 16:55

Coming Soon: Virtual Driver's Ed

Can't fit driver's ed into a busy high school schedule? The Canyons Virtual High School can help.

Beginning Feb. 21, 2014, students can sign up to take driver's ed online through the Canyons Virtual High School. The online high school offers an array of classes, including Advanced Placement, P.E., and Chinese. 

To sign up for the new virtual driver's ed class or additional courses, visit  
Monday, 10 February 2014 16:06

Headlines Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014

Around Canyons
Bill to extend school equalization money for Jordan District sparks outrage, fails in committee

Perfect ACT scores for 3 Hillcrest students

Alta, Corner Canyon Sterling Scholars announced

Jordan, Hillcrest, Brighton Sterling Scholars announced

Trib looks at WPU increases; CSD among few funding raises for teachers

Draper's Crandall elected State Board of Education Chairman

Brighton students raise $20,000 in friend's memory$20K-for-Tyler-Robinson-Foundation/

Corner Canyon student didn't plan to audition, but rising to Hollywood Week on American Idol

Will grade reconfiguration give Canyons schools an athletic edge? Cottonwood football coach says yes (see p. 12)

Canyons elementary report cards aim to communicate mastery to parents (see p. 13)

SLC schools now only to serve full meals; Canyons employs similar practice

Boys Basketball: Alta shuts down West Jordan

Trib Talk: Preschool debated in Utah

Box Elder Gay-Straight Alliance begins

Senate panel approves bills to boost school funding by limiting child income tax deductions, tax reform

Committee advances Education Task Force extension

Westminster has Sochi athletes covered

Trib: Open-enrollment colleges need taxpayer support

Flores: Utah education a leaky pipeline

Friday, 07 February 2014 14:39

Headlines Friday, Feb. 7, 2014

Around Canyons
Live on 2News: Corner Canyon counselor Dina Kohler talks about helping kids learn 'grit'

Brighton teacher named national education fellow

Signing Day: Where will Jordan, Alta football players play in college?

Rolly gives update on health curriculum text adoption editing process
Hear ye! Hear ye! The townspeople of the fair district of Canyons are invited forthwith to Hillcrest High’s annual Renaissance Feaste and Program.
The event, which features Hillcrest’s choral music and theater departments, is Feb. 12-15, 2014. Doors to the “Lovers’ Feaste” open each night at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m.  Seating is limited to 250 people per night.
Cost for the Wednesday evening performance and five-course dinner is $12.   Tickets to other nights — Thursday through Saturday — are $16.  True to the fashion of the renaissance era, guests will eat the meal without the aid of utensils.
The dinner of hot wassail, soup, salad, potatoes, chicken and a fruit tart dessert will be served by Hillcrest students and supportive parents dressed in Renaissance garb. RaNae Dalgleish, the choir and orchestra director who makes an appearance in a not-to-be-missed Queen Elizabeth costume, says the auditorium stage will be transformed over the weekend into a grand Renaissance castle.
“The people who come, they are so surprised when they go and feel like they are back in another time,” Dalgleish says. “It’s a fun night that you can just let go of the world and put yourself in another place.”
The “royalty” of the evening — the vocal ensemble students — will take part in a colorful and dramatic procession. Then, the lords and ladies will serenade the guests with several musical selections. A string quartet also will provide music to attendees, and a special 15-minute version of “Hamlet” will be performed.
Students started working on the production before the holiday break.  They’ve spent countless hours perfecting their songs, characters, costumes — and the menu.  Many students even earned their food-handler permits in order to participate in the event.
“There is a spirit of camaraderie and teamwork,” Dalgleish says. “Everyone has a part.  Everyone has something they can do.”
Parent Karen Conder has helped with the event for several years, and she says the students enjoy putting on the feaste as much as guests enjoy attending.  It’s her second son’s final year being involved, she said, “and it’s been a lot of fun” for the whole family.  What’s been most notable for her, she said, is that students of all talents, interests and abilities are invited to participate and learn from the activity.
Hillcrest’s Renaissance Feaste has been a community draw for more than 20 years.
“There are so many kids who have grown up with the tradition.  Their siblings have done it, and they want to do it,” says Dalgleish. “The thing I love is that the kids get to taste, feel, and experience the Renaissance in a way they couldn’t by just singing in the hall.  It comes alive for them.”
For tickets, contact a Hillcrest choir student or call the Main Office at 801-826-6000.  Tickets must be purchased or reserved in advance.
Thursday, 06 February 2014 18:51

Alta High Snowboarder Among Country's Best

As the world’s attention turns toward the golden dreams of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games, Canyons District’s eyes are on a student who is riding and sliding full speed toward national recognition as one of the country’s best young snowboarders.
When Terrell Cooper started snowboarding nine years ago, he didn’t expect to someday become one of the best riders in the world for his age.
For one thing, he got a late start in the sport, compared to the kids he would one day compete against. Cooper, a 17-year-old junior at Alta High, started when he was about 8 years old, but a lot of serious snowboarders start as soon as they can walk.
By the time Cooper made it onto a snowboard, his friends were already faster — and more experienced.
“All of my friends were snowboarders and I was the worst in my group,” Cooper says now, as the ranking third-place champion of the 2013 Junior Freeride World Championships. “They’d always leave me, so that made me want to get better.”
Cooper started snowboarding on his own, and he did get better. Three years ago he joined Team Utah, a snowboarding club that helps amateur riders make the transition to competitive riding.  And he’s been rocketing skyward ever since.
“I think it’s not easy,” Cooper says of his lifestyle now — working out at the gym for two hours every day and each year competing in up to 20 competitions over the course of just a few months. “It’s not like a normal job where you go to work and you can come home and hang out with friends … That is something I have to give up.”
Cooper does make time to keep up with his schoolwork, however. He attends class at Alta for two semesters every year, then withdraws from the school in the winter and takes classes online while he travels from competition to competition. So far, Cooper is ahead of where he should be, garnering enough credits to be able to graduate early next year.
He might not have started as a prodigy, but Cooper’s committed now to becoming a professional snowboarder by the time he turns 19. Then, when he competes in the world championships, he plans to be standing in first place.
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 21:39

American Idol: Charger Takes Her Shot

Kenzie Hall has gone from the "Alta Idol" stage at her Canyons District high school to the American Idol stage in Hollywood. 

The Corner Canyon High School junior dazzled a star-studded panel of judges to secure a coveted golden ticket on the popular reality TV show, known for discovering superstars Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, and fellow Utahn David Archuleta. On Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, Kenzie will begin appearances on the infamous "Hollywood Week" American Idol rounds, where she will compete against other talented amateur vocalists from across the country. There, judges will whittle the field for the live program, where viewers vote for their favorite singers and the next American Idol.  

"This is a complete surprise," Kenzie's mother, Dawn Hall, said of her daughter's advancement to Hollywood Week. "I was thinking American Idol would be a good experience. The experience keeps going, and it's been so much fun. I'm so proud of her."

Not a bad showing for a student who hit the stage for the very first time just one year ago. Kenzie debuted her easy guitar-strumming and bluesy tones when she sang The Beatles' "Oh Darling" at the Alta Idol competition in Feburary 2013. Kenzie won the contest, and her star has been rising since. 

Kenzie went on to clinch a Draper City vocal contest. Local talent scouts started calling shortly afterward. The Draper teen, who started her junior year at the new Corner Canyon High School in Canyons School District, since has performed at venues including "Rock the Block" in Rexburg, Idaho, and the Radioactive Fest, where she opened for Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons fame.

Last summer, Kenzie auditioned for the 13th season of American Idol before star judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr., who came to Salt Lake City in their national search for the next recording sensation. She wowed the judges with her accoustic-guitar infused version of John Mayer's "I'm Going to Find another You."

"You've got everything going on," Lopez said. "She's one of my faves," she added as Kenzie dashed from the room to show her family her ticket to Hollywood.

Hollywood Week airs Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 5 and 6, at 7 p.m. on KSTU Fox13.

"My goal is to make it as far as I can," Kenzie told Fox13 reporter and weekend anchor Annie Cutler, "and be happy with my performances and be happy with myself for how it went."
Board Votes To Save Taxpayers $2.4 Million in Jordan Bond Refinance

The Board approved a resolution to save taxpayers $2.4 million in interest payments by entering an interlocal agreement with the Jordan School District. The agreement allows both districts to refinance the Old Jordan Debt, which resulted from the bond that former Jordan School District voters passed in 2003, prior to Canyons' creation. The Jordan Board is expected to meet later this month to vote on the proposed agreement. In approving the agreement, Cowdell called on Jordan District to stop supporting legislation aimed at taking more money from CSD taxpayers when CSD taxpayers already are repaying 58 percent of the old bond without realizing its benefits.

To view the resolution or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 7B.

Brighton Soccer Field Proposed

The Board discussed the possibility of creating a soccer for Brighton High School in place of a planned extra parking lot next to Butler Middle School. The field would provide the city of Cottonwood Heights with precious open space, said Board Member Kim Horiuchi. She also noted the new Butler Middle has more parking than the old school had. Facilities Director Rick Conger said the proposed field would cost $750,000, and that the District would receive a $55,000 credit by halting parking lot plans. Several Board members said the field and green space is needed. Vice President Steve Wrigley noted parking is an issue at Butler. The Board asked to see drawings of the proposed field in the next meeting. Conger also provided the Board with a draft of how Butler Elementary and a White City elementary school might be rebuilt with bond money on their current campuses. He also reviewed state bidding procedures for architects. He noted CSD building design phases include extensive input by school employees, leaders, and parents.

For more information or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2B.

Students Achieve Under New Middle School Schedule

Middle school reading scores have skyrocketed this fall, following an emphasis on reading and interdisciplinary teaming in the new middle school model. Winter SRI results were 250 Lexile points above previous years' performance. Last fall, CSD sixth-graders moved into the middle schools, which also implemented a schedule that extended time in English Language Arts and Math instruction based on data indicating that students needed help in those subjects. The schedule provides regularly scheduled intervention and enrichment time for all students, collaborative work groups for educators, and allows students to make choices about electives. Schools also have implemented Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) to assist academic achievement efforts.

Mike Sirois, Director of School Performance, thanked the Board for its leadership in creating the middle school model. He noted that while the model is not yet perfected -- challenges include mixed reviews from elective teachers regarding the AB schedule and scheduling reading and math labs – there are many benefits, including hour-long class periods, district supports, and teacher teaming to improve student achievement. He noted the model is garnering attention statewide.

Board Members praised the smooth transition, student achievement results, and improved middle school atmosphere. Wrigley also praised the transition, but questioned whether honors courses were losing rigor and teachers needed more prep time. Green said he hopes the new model encourage more female students to enter STEM fields.

For more information or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2A.

New SAGE State Tests Demonstrated

Dr. Hal Sanderson, Director of Research and Assessment, demonstrated the state's new SAGE test, which Utah students will take for the first time in April and May. The State test is needed to assess students' understanding of Utah's new standards in math and English language arts. SAGE is a test customized to Utah standards by researchers and Utah parents and teachers. The unique, computerized adaptive test includes multiple choice, writing, and graphing questions, whose difficulty adjusts based on student answers. The test is designed to measure the full range of students' grade-level knowledge and skills, assess all students equally, and give teachers data needed to improve instruction. Dr. Sanderson said his office is preparing trainings for educators and information to go to parents about the state test.

SAGE results will provide a new baseline for test performance. SAGE Results cannot be compared to old CRT test results.

To view the presentation or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 7D.

Superintendent Search Update

The Board directed the Superintendent Search Consultants to advertise a salary range for the new superintendent that reflects salaries paid to other Wasatch Front school district superintendents. The salary range of $175,000-$225,000 will be included in job advertisements; actual salary will be negotiated with the successful candidate. Board members noted the range is well within the market rate and is necessary to hiring a strong leader, which is critical when the education of children is at stake.

For more information or to listen to the discussion, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 2C.

Student Advisory Council Work Underway

Members of the Board's Student Advisory Council thanked the Board for the opportunity to serve and hoped for additional opportunities to interact with and provide feedback to Board members. They said the council gives them opportunities to receive feedback from fellow students on how to improve education and share ideas for student fundraising and activities among council members. Addressing the Board were chairwoman and founder Katrina Jones of Alta; Richard Wright of Brighton; Shelby Brey of Hillcrest; and Kaitlyn Larsen of Alta.

To listen to the report, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 7C.

Board Action

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the Jan. 21, 2014 minutes; Purchasing Bids and the Home School Affidavit. The Board also approved student overnight travel for Brighton Fine Arts and Alta Debate, Girls Golf and Track and Field teams.

The Board approved the fiscal accountability policy, as required by law. The policy provides transparency on how money is raised and spent in the District, and gives schools autonomy in making key decisions while providing support from the District and Canyons School District Education Foundation. The Foundation is expected to vote this week on a memorandum of understanding with the District in regards to the policy.

For more information, please visit BoardDocs and click Agenda Item 6.

Patron Comments

Alta View patron Heather Rasmussen said she was drawn into Eastmont Middle School Boundaries, which makes getting to Dual Immersion Spanish at Mount Jordan a challenge. She said she and her neighbors felt slighted the program was not placed at their feeder school. She asked that a bus be provided for her neighborhood to attend the program at Mount Jordan. She estimated 30 Dual Immersion students would take the bus.

Interim Superintendent's Report

Interim Superintendent Dr. Ginger Rhode and Assistant Superintendent Kathryn McCarrie attended the PTA Reflections contest awards ceremony at Midvale Middle School last week for both elementary and secondary arts categories. She said the students have been very creative in their efforts, be they in visual arts or music, and she wished the winners well in the state contest.

Interim CFO Report

Chief Financial Officer Leon Wilcox thanked the Board for approving the fiscal accountability policy. He said the State Auditor's Office has indicated it would like to look at all districts' policies statewide. He said he appreciated the Board approving the refinancing of the old Jordan debt, and noted interest rates are moving in the District's favor. He said while it's been a rough few days for Broncos fans, he was pleased to see Hillcrest's Zane Beadles play in the Super Bowl, and noted Beadles graduated with a 3.92 GPA from Hillcrest and earned an engineering degree from the University of Utah.

Board Reports

Board Member Chad Iverson thanked the Student Advisory Council for addressing the Board, and said he hopes the Board can receive council feedback more regularly.

Wrigley attended the CTEC open house and was very impressed by the student hosts and faculty. He noted the students' excitement about their projects. He praised the quality of the seventh-grade science fair projects he viewed at Draper Park Middle. He visited Oakdale Elementary's grant-funded arts program and Quail Hollow Elementary. He thanked CSD students and principals for their outstanding work.

Tingey is representing CSD on the Utah School Boards Association's Joint Legislative Committee, and noted half of the bills before the Legislature are education-related. She said she'll continue work to add CSD's voice to the discussion. She thanked staff for the presentations they prepared for the Board meeting. She said she took the SAGE training tests, joked that she now knows she is not smarter than a fifth-grader, and encouraged other parents to take the SAGE as well. She thanked the Student Advisory Council members for their work, and looks forward to working with them in the future.

Horiuchi attended the Hillcrest school play, "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby," by Charles Dickens. She said the six-hour play, performed in two parts, was a remarkable showcase of Hillcrest talent. She attended the Utah High School Activities Association meeting, and noted classifications realignment is coming up. The realignment process will include a March 26 public meeting regarding the proposed format and procedures for defining the realignment, which would include an examination of population and trends. Another public hearing will be scheduled for fall on the classifications themselves.

Green attended the Lego League state championships at the U., and enjoyed judging robotics design. He was proud that an all-female team won second place at the competition. He recalled how much he enjoyed thermodynamics classes. He also said he hoped to have Beadles visit Hillcrest as an inspirational speaker.

Taylor thanked the Student Advisory Council for their dedication and willingness to serve, and urged everyone to be careful traveling home. He also noted this is National School Counseling Week, and expressed his appreciation for CSD counselors.

Wednesday, 05 February 2014 14:21

Headlines Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014

Around Canyons
Canyons seeks Teacher of the Year award nominations

CTEC students respond to anti-tobacco ads

Hillcrest hoops player Mat Means named DNews Prep of the Week

Football: Brighton's Kaufusi reaffirms BYU intent

Coaches upset Utah colleges pass on athletic talent (CSD students mentioned)

Lunch fiasco laid our for SLC Board

State looks for school lunch payment remedies in response to SLC issue

Lunch fiasco fuels threats to SLC school

Audit highlights school cost-savings efforts

Bill would allow teachers to intervene to prevent suicide

Bus driver drops off Davis special-needs preschooler to empty house

SLC Board discusses audit of West High booster accounts -- behind closed doors

Lawmakers pinpoint $67 million in budget cuts

Longtime State Board member Burningham won't seek re-election

Bomb threat leads to Juab after-school activities cancellation

Riverton ex-teacher takes plea deal in sex abuse case

Students mark 100th anniversary of Star Spangled Banner

Tuition waivers help USU soften missionary student losses

Bill Nye the Science Guy defends evolution in Kentucky debate

Former teacher lives modest life, dies at 94, wills $8.4 million estate to charity

Trib: Taking kids' lunches not cool

Letter: Preschool helps kids learn social skills

Letter: Legislators should visit schools

Letter: Parents to blame in lunch fiasco