Does your child thrive on complexity, master concepts with ease and show strong feelings and opinions — or even tend to be self-critical? It can be difficult to know if your child is a high achiever or exhibiting signs of being a gifted learner. Every child is unique and no two gifted children are alike.

But there are tests to assist parents in determining whether their children would benefit from placement in an educational setting, such as, Canyons School District’s SALTA magnet program for advanced learners—and now is the time to sign up for testing.

Students in kindergarten through the seventh grade can apply online to test into the SALTA program starting Monday, Sept. 9 through midnight on Thursday, Oct. 3. Unfortunately, we are not able to accept late applications. slide 1

Due to the time-intensive and rigorous nature of the process for determining a student’s fit for the program, parents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the testing requirements and characteristics of advanced learners (see below) before completing an application. 
Testing is a two-day commitment, and results will be distributed in late December.

Elementary-age applicants may choose between one of two possible dates per testing block and the following testing locations. More details as to the time and location of the testing will be made available through the application process.

Elementary Testing Block A: October 25 and 26
Midvale Elementary
Canyon View Elementary

Elementary Testing Block B: November 8 and 9
Peruvian Park 
East Midvale
Willow Springs

All middle school students are tested at Mt. Jordan Middle, with exception to Midvale Middle students who are tested at their school.

Middle School Testing Block: November 5 and 6
Midvale Middle
Mount Jordan Middle

Questions? More information, can be found at, or by calling the Instructional Supports Department at 801-826-5044.
David Morrill was well on his way to becoming a physicist and working for the government, right up until his senior year of college, when he was asked to step in and teach a freshman physics lab and found his true calling: teaching.

Now, after teaching at Jordan High for 30 years, Morrill has been named of one of five Utah finalists to receive a 2019 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The Award is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government to science and math teachers in grades K-12. Up to 108 of the awards are bestowed every year as a way to recognize teachers who develop and implement exemplary programs that enhance student learning, according to the Utah State Board of Education, which announced the finalists on Tuesday, Aug. 27. 

“It’s a great honor to be considered for this, and I think it shows we have great teachers,” Morrill said. “I feel a little inadequate because I believe there are a lot of teachers at Jordan who are so good at what they do and I just am really impressed with the quality of teachers I get to interact with.”download

Morrill says he has always been fascinated with the laws of physics. Every day, he demonstrates principles of physics in action, and discusses with his students how their predictions of what may occur are often misguided. The concepts of projectile motion, inertia and mass often surprise his students, he says. But he loves nothing more than to discuss mathematical relationships, circumference, diameter and Pi with his class.

“I have found I really, really enjoy teaching,” Morrill says. “I know that every day there is somebody’s life that I do touch and change, and 99 times out of 100 I never know who that is because they don’t come and tell me. But I do know it’s going on, and I have found that is the reason I really enjoy teaching, because I do have an effect on student’s lives every single day.”

A national selection committee is set to review the finalists for the Presidential Award, and it is expected the winners will be announced in the summer or fall of 2020. Of the five finalists representing Utah, two will be chosen for the award and receive a certificate signed by the President of the United States, a paid trip to Washington D.C. to attend recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation.

This isn't the first recognition that Morrill has received for his extraordinary teaching abilities. Below is a video spotlighting his receipt of a Huntsman Award for Excellence in Education.

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.”

The Canyons Association of Elementary School Principals has selected its nominees for honors in the annual recognitions program of the Utah Association of Elementary School Principals. 

“Each year, the Canyons Association of Elementary School Principals has the opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of a few of our colleagues,” says Lone Peak Principal McKay Robinson, the president of the CAESP.

“The few who were selected this year have epitomized what it means to wear more hats than you can count as the instructional leaders of their buildings,” Robinson said. “I am sure I’m not alone when I express that I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with great individuals that continue to inspire me to be the absolute best principal I can be.”

Congratulations to the leaders who were chosen by the association to represent Canyons District in the state competition.
  • Instructional Leader of the Year — Ridgecrest Principal Teri Mattson
  • Innovator of the Year — Draper Principal Piper Riddle
  • Mentor Principal of the Year — Willow Canyon Principal Marilyn Williams
  • Community Leader of the Year — Butler Principal Christy Waddell
  • Rookie of the Year — Altara Principal Nicole Svee-Magann