Getting Involved





Getting Involved

Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010


Canyons eighth-graders are doing relatively well in English, but have a lot of catching up to do in science if they are to be prepared for college and career by the time they graduate from high school.

The results of Canyons’ first-ever implementation of the ACT EXPLORE exam for eighth-graders shows 70 percent meet the college-readiness benchmark in English. But only 40 percent of eighth-graders meet the mark in math. Just over half met the benchmark in reading, and 22 percent made benchmark in science. All Canyons eighth-graders took the EXPLORE test in September.

Tenth-graders at the same time took the ACT PLAN test, also designed to indicate a student’s college-readiness. Results show a similar pattern. Seventy-three percent met the benchmark in English. Thirty-eight percent met it in math, 59 percent met benchmark in reading, and just 27 percent met it in science.

The tests are designed to show how much students know in subject areas of English, Reading, Math and Science, and whether they are on track to become prepared for college.

“I hope that this reinforces a sense of urgency in what we are doing or not doing as a school district,” Superintendent Dave Doty told the Board in Study Session. “I hope this is taken by us and all our teachers and principals as an invitation to do better, because we must do better … and give teachers and principals the professional development, support and curriculum they need to do better.”

The data is critical to students, particularly in eighth-grade. Research shows that a student’s achievement level in the eighth-grade is a bigger determining factor about  college- and career-readiness than anything the student might do in high school. The data will be used to help students plan their high school schedules this winter.

The Canyons Board of Education adopted a career- and college- ready academic plan in February 2010. The plan includes optional career- and college-ready diplomas that map out a more rigorous course-taking pattern for students. The Board also voted to move ninth-grade into high school and sixth grade into middle school. The idea is to ensure students have the academic supports they need to prepare for college and career. Superintendent Doty noted the ACT EXPLORE and PLAN test data underscore the wisdom of that move.

Dr. Doty noted that 25 percent of the exams do not align to the State Core Curriculum Canyons students are learning now. However, he expects classroom lessons and the exam to better align as the District implements the more rigorous, in-depth Common Core State Standards, approved by the State Board of Education.

More information will be posted soon at

Plan to Implement Common Core State Standards Proposed

The Common Core State Standards could be implemented a little every year, and include extensive professional development for teachers, through fall 2014 under a proposal presented to the Board in Study Session.

The Common Core State Standards set a clear expectation for all students to become career- and college- ready by the end of high school. The rigorous standards, available in math and English language arts, weave advanced concepts into lessons as early as kindergarten so students can create building blocks on which to learn. The Utah State Board of Education has adopted the standards.

Canyons has implemented the math Common Core in all elementary schools. Based on feedback from principals, Evidence-Based Learning Directors Dr. Hollie Pettersson and Amber Roderick-Landward propose the following implementation schedule for other grades and subjects:


2011-2012: Seventh and eighth grades

2012-13: Ninth grade

2013-14: 10th grade

2014-15: 11th grade

English Language Arts:

2011-12: Seventh through 11th grades

2012-13: Elementary grades

Dr. Pettersson and Ms. Roderick-Landward proposed up to three weeks of paid professional development for teachers, as well as hiring an academic coach who currently is a teacher, to provide educators with the training and support they need to implement the Common Core. Funding could come from the federal education jobs stimulus money; Dr. Doty also proposes seeking support from private industry.

The state CRT exams, which are the end-of-level tests used for No Child Left Behind and other accountability purposes, will not immediately align with the Common Core State Standards. Director of Research and Assessment Hal Sanderson said the Utah Association of Assessment Directors has written a letter asking the state to temporarily abbreviate the CRTs. The idea is to test the content contained in both the Common Core and the current State Core Curriculum. He said similar adjustments were granted a few years ago when a new math curriculum was put in place.

Advanced Diplomas Report

Dr. Pettersson reported on progress that been made on the development of “emphasis options” for students who seek to earn Canyons’ advanced diplomas. Under the recommendation, students would be able to earn emphases in the following: Career and Technology Education, Humanities, Math, Science, and Arts.  The academic team also is developing an Honors emphasis.

The aim is encourage students to pursue depth in their studies. The emphases would stand in lieu of a weighted grade-point average. Dr. Pettersson told the Board that the District had contacted Utah colleges and universities, the top 25 high schools as identified by Newsweek, and 10 of the top U.S. colleges and universities to discuss whether a weighted GPA was influential in admission and scholarship decisions.  The issue also was discussed with counselors and faculty at CSD’s four high schools.

Dr. Pettersson said the investigation revealed that colleges and universities disregard formulas employed by school districts in favor of their own. Dr. Pettersson also noted that the high school faculties were overwhelmingly more interested in awarding emphases than developing a system to measure and assign a weighted GPA to each student. Superintendent Doty told the Board the District is working on designing a diploma seal that would be placed on diplomas to signify the emphasis achievement.

Student Spaceflight Experiments Program Selections Next Week

Dr. Pettersson briefed the Board on the District’s involvement in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, which is a part of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education. CSD is one of 14 school districts chosen to participate in the initiative, which will culminate in a project by a CSD student being lifted into space on the Space Shuttle Endeavour, scheduled to launch in February.

A contest will determine which project is chosen. Dr. Pettersson said the top three projects from each of Canyons’ four high school feeder systems will compete at the district level. Of those 12, three finalists will be sent to NCESSE in Washington, D.C., for final consideration. One of those projects is guaranteed a spot on the shuttle.

The District has asked four teachers to mentor the student scientists who are entering the contest. Those teacher representatives are: Lead Teacher Gretchen Carr, Jordan High; Jenette Stewart, Alta High; Alex Hildebrand, Brighton High; Jonathan Miller, Hillcrest High.

A Steering Committee of scientists and business and education leaders will determine the CSD finalists.  Joining Board member Dr. Paul McCarty on the panel are:  University of Utah Physics Department Chairman Dr. David Kieda; Utah Technology Council President and CEO Rich Nelson; Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce President Jim Wall; Canyons Education Association President and Alta physics teacher Tony Romanello; Utah State University Physics Department Chairman Dr. Jan J. Soika, and CSD parent and Manager at University of Utah TGLL Program Holly Godsey.

Outstanding Students, Employees Honored

The Board recognized 277 students and faculty at Canyons District schools for various accomplishments. Certificates were presented to Hillcrest’s Shakespeare competition and cross country teams; Alta’s golf, cross country and girls tennis teams; Brighton’s girls soccer, tennis, volleyball and boys golf teams; Albion, Crescent View and Butler middle schools for their team honors at the CSD Middle School Intramurals cross country meet; individual students for winning events at the middle school intramurals meet; and students who were recognized as Academic All-state winners.

Dr. Lory Curtis, principal of the South Park Academy at the Utah State Prison, for winning the Presidents Award from the Utah Association of Adult, Community and Continuing Education.

Sarah Smith, Butler Elementary School, for winning the 2010 Utah Outstanding Early Childhood/Pre-K Paraeducator Award.

Also noted were the re-elections of Tracy Scott Cowdell, Sherrill Taylor and Kim Horiuchi to the Canyons Board of Education.  A welcome was extended to Steve Wrigley, who will replace the retiring Ellen Wallace. Also mentioned were the election of legislators LaVar Christensen, Steve Eliason, Ken Ivory and Derek Brown.

Dr. Doty won Communicator of the Year at the Golden Spike Awards, sponsored by the Utah chapters of the Public Relations Society of America and International Association of Business Communicators.

Boundary Steering Committee Update

K-16 Director for Elementary Schools-South Tamra Baker updated the Board on work done by the Boundary Steering Committee. Mrs. Baker, who is facilitating the committee’s deliberations, said the Committee has met with several city planners, examined residential growth data and transportation costs, and is now looking at programs that could affect a school’s enrollment and facility needs.  The Board decided to calendar additional meetings to study and discuss the growth and programmatic issues that impact both the District’s overall academic and construction plans.

Volunteer Policies Discussed

Dan Harper, legal counsel from the firm Burbidge and White, recommended the Board study policies that govern employee voluntarism in schools. Mr. Harper told the board that the practice of allowing employees to volunteer at the schools in which they are employed could run the District afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Board directed Mr. Harper to work on a policy that wouldn’t overly restrict voluntarism while also safeguarding the district from class-action suits.

Employee Wellness Programs Presented

Jeremy Drecksel, a program manager for Public Employees Health Plan, presented information about programs offered through PEHP that aim to reduce insurance costs by improving the overall health of members. Programs such as “Waist Aweigh” and “Healthy Utah” offer financial incentives for qualifying participants if they meet certain health-related goals. PEHP also has an interactive Web site, “Wellness Works,” that provides information on diet, nutrition and fitness.

Patron Comments

Patrick Christensen, who works in the Canyons District Transportation Department, expressed a concern about the lack of training provided to employees of the department.

Board Action

The Board approved the Consent Agenda, which includes the Oct. 18 minutes; purchasing bids; a home school affidavit; October financial reports; board hires and terminations. The Board also approved overnight travel for the Alta cheerleaders; Brighton drill team; Hillcrest art history and theater students; and Jordan girls basketball; American Sign Language, and Academic Decathlon.

Canyons Apex Awards Report

The Office of Public Communications gave an update on plans for the Canyons Apex Awards, a Nov. 16 by-invitation-only event that will honor leaders in the community, as well as Canyons District’s employees and volunteer of the year.

Superintendent’s Report

Dr. Doty reported on a meeting with patrons who neighbor the proposed high school campus in Draper.  Dr. Doty told the board two additional meetings to gather community input are scheduled for Nov. 17 and 18.

Board Reports

Kevin Cromar reported on events he attended, including the NFFSD conference in Topeka, Kan.; the Canyons Middle School Intramurals Cross Country Meet; and the meeting with Draper patrons about the new high school. He also commented on recent studies that focused on academics at charter schools, and voiced concern that any future charter school expansions could negatively impact neighborhood schools.  He also asked the Administration to gather data on the number of CSD elementary schools that schedule a noon recess before lunch meals are served.

Tracy Scott Cowdell said he was excited at the prospect of rebuilding Mt. Jordan Middle School with bond funds. He also expressed support for Jordan High’s football team in its semifinal game Thursday against Bingham.

Dr. McCarty thanked Dr. Ginger Rhode, CSD Deputy Superintendent, for a book she gave Board Members.  Dr. McCarty also commented on elementary school schedules allowing recess time before eating the lunchtime meal. He said the children are happier and there is less waste.

Mont Millerberg reported on a Hillcrest High meeting during which Dr. Doty presented information on the Face to Faith program.  He also attended the District-sponsored screening of “Waiting for Superman,” which he said serves as a good springboard to begin community discussion about issues facing public schools.

Study Session

Canyons is looking into providing e-mail and online document storage to all Canyons students via Microsoft Live@edu. The e-mail accounts would be in a “closed campus,”  meaning students could not receive e-mail that was not from the Live@edu system. The online document storage would allow students to maintain an extensive education portfolio. In other news, the Information Technology Department worked extensively and creatively to secure more than $100,000 from the E-Rate federal program, which reimburses schools and libraries for communication services. The Board also met in closed session to discuss matters concerning real property and personnel.

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Lucie Chamberlain

Alta View Elementary

If a movie about super teachers were ever made, Lucie Chamberlain would be a prime candidate for a leading role. Fortunately for her kindergarten students at Alta View Elementary, she already thrives in a supporting role for them. Parents thank her for being a “super teacher.” She is also described as an “amazing colleague.” Whether students need help in the classroom or from home while sick, Lucie goes above and beyond to help them learn, overcome fears, and feel important and cared for. Lucie is the reason a number of kids went from hating school to loving it, according to parents. The way she exudes patience, sweetness, positive energy, and love for her students with special needs melts is appreciated and admired. One parent noted: “Both my kids wish she could be their teacher forever.” Another added:  “She treats every student like their learning and their feelings are her priority.” Super teacher, indeed!

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