Following years of rigorous review, Canyons School District has received districtwide accreditation through Cognia, signaling to the Canyons community that CSD schools meet national standards of excellence.
“This seal of approval from the Cognia Global Accreditation Commission is a mark of quality,” said Canyons Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins. “It provides families with assurance of our academic and operational integrity while demonstrating our openness to review, feedback and a continued desire to be the best we can be for our students.”
More than 500 K-12 private and public schools in Utah, including charter schools, are accredited through the Utah State Board of Education-certified accrediting agency Cognia. Canyons is the third school district in Utah to receive systemwide accreditation, a five-year designation.
Taking the systemwide route was a large undertaking that involved thorough review of the District’s strengths and areas for improvement based on a common set of standards. But all the extra work paid off with “a holistic view” of the District’s continuum of services, from preschool through high school, said Instructional Supports Administrator Jesse Hennefer. “The timing for an accreditation review was perfect because it coincided with the Canyons Board of Education’s review of our strategic plan, which will guide our growth for the next five to 10 years.”
As part of the accreditation process, principals and school personnel provided input through surveys and focus groups. In September and October 2021, families, students, community members, and other stakeholders were invited to participate in focus groups. Also in October, Canyons welcomed a virtual visit by a review team of educators from across the country. The team reviewed student achievement, financial, and operational data and interviewed stakeholders, including the Superintendent and Board of Education.
Cognia’s final report, assigns a measure of quality to Canyons known as an IEQ. Canyons’ Index of Education Quality — 320.65 — is well above the national average of between 278.34 to 283.33, and indicates the District “is engaged in practices that are sustained over time and becoming ingrained in the culture of the institution.”
Remarking on the report, School Performance Director Cindy Hanson said “This is an objective measure of our growth and progress so that we can keep ourselves accountable to the goals we’ve established for ourselves.”
Among key strengths listed in the report:
- Canyons has a clear plan for and demonstrated commitment to college- and career-readiness.
- Canyons has strong leadership development within its communities and schools.
- Canyons has strong branding; its principles and priorities are well-communicated and understood.
- Canyons builds and maintains strong support systems for teaching and learning.
“The evaluator said the training, coaching and supports we offer our teachers was one of the strongest indicators that came from all of the stakeholder groups,” Hanson said. “When teachers were asked about how new teachers are helped in the District they replied, “You are not alone in Canyons.’”