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

Report: School Grading and SAGE Scores


A majority of Canyons schools, 71 percent, received an A or B this year under Utah’s school grading system, even with last-minute changes to the way the grades were calculated. Had the grading scale not been redrawn, 81 percent of Canyons’ schools would have received a B or higher — and the number of schools to receive an A would have doubled from 2015 to 2016. The recalculation affected 43 percent of CSD’s schools. Teachers and school administrators should be proud of their performance this year, said Dr. Hal Sanderson, Director of Research and Assessment. The grades fail to reflect that most schools’ test scores have risen in English language arts, math and science. So, even if a school’s test scores rose, its grade may have dropped because the target changed. No matter where one chooses to draw the line for an A or B, Canyons District’s achievement is headed in the right direction. By law, if too many (two-thirds) of Utah schools earn an A or B, the Utah State Office of Education must raise by 5 percentage points the cut-off score required for each letter grade. Utah’s school grading system was established by the Legislature, and the first grades to be published were for the 2012-13 school year. Since then, CSD schools have significantly improved, largely driven by a steady rise in SAGE scores. The percentage of CSD students who test as proficient in English, math and science exceeds the state average. That’s true across the board for elementary, middle and high school students. CSD students also outperform their peers on the ACT college entrance exam, and have higher pass rates on Advanced Placement exams for early college credit. Sanderson also talked about a rise in the number of students who opt out of taking SAGE, from 0.8 percent in 2014 to 3.9 percent in 2016. This is below the state average of 5 percent, but it’s a growing concern because it undermines the credibility of SAGE results.
 
Midvale Middle Years Programme Update

The Board of Education was presented with an update on Midvale Middle’s International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme. Principal Wendy Dau told the Board the initiative positively impacts both Midvale’s boundary students and the quarter of the student body that attends the school as part of the Supporting Advanced Learners Toward Achievement (SALTA) magnet program. MYP aids the school as they address the socio-economic and academic challenges faced by many students  at the school. For example, 67 percent of enrolled students qualify for free- or reduced-price lunches under the poverty index, and 23 percent who are English Language Learners. Dau said MYP addresses the needs of all students, regardless of their current achievement level or scholastic challenge. Every student, not just those in SALTA, participates and benefits from the academic rigor that is required of a MYP school. The program also provides a global, real-world connection for all students, and a regular opportunity to reflect on their achievement, Dau said. Board member Nancy Tingey said that, through the emphasis on the learner profile, and the extra help given to students to aid them in their pursuit of success, Midvale is building a culture of high expectations for all students. 

Middle School Schedule Committee

Canyons School Performance Director Mike Sirois said the Middle School Schedule Committee has decided on four principles that will guide the development of a new schedule. The new schedule, he said, must promote teamwork and collaboration; maximize quality instructional time; provide time for all students to participate in electives; and have built-in intervention and remediation. What the committee has found, Sirois told the Board, is that it will be a challenge to find one schedule that will meet the various and unique instructional and social needs of all CSD middle schools. Sirois said a proposed schedule could be presented to the Board, as well as faculties and School Community Councils, by late fall. 

Volunteers in CSD Schools

The total number of volunteer hours in CSD schools for the 2015-2016 school year reached 266,275, Volunteer and Partnerships Coordinator Brittani Bailey told the Board. Calculated at a hourly rate of $23.92 an hour, volunteers contributed $6.3 million in work to the District during the academic year. In all, 11,672 community members registered to volunteer in CSD schools. PTA volunteers contributed 124,756 of those hours, said Region 17 PTA Director Betty Shaw. The PTA’s contribution, if calculated in dollar amounts, hit $2.9 million. Shaw and PTA Region 17 Associate Director Tonya Rhodes presented a giant check to the Board and Administration. 

Concurrent Enrollment Program Update

Concurrent enrollment courses do more than give Canyons high school students a jump on college. They help students gain confidence by exposing them to the rigors of college work while still in the familiar setting of high school. They enable students to earn college credit for a fraction of what they would pay in tuition. And they expose students to college admissions, enrollment and registration processes, Career and Technical Education Director Janet Goble told the Board. Each of CSD’s traditional high schools offers concurrent enrollment courses — a total of 106 districtwide. CSD’s high school students together earned nearly 1,000 college credits last year for a combined savings of $1.6 million in college tuition. Some examples of courses offered include, astronomy, college algebra and trigonometry. Also coming soon to Jordan High: a medical innovations emphasis where, on top of regular science courses, students, working with commercial drug and device makers, will learn manufacturing and biomanufacturing principles. The program will be rolled out on Sept. 27 at 9 a.m. at a special event held at Draper-based Edwards Lifesciences. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert is scheduled to attend.

Hiring Update

Canyons District recruiters spent more than a month on the road this summer to find high-quality educators to fill Canyons classrooms, working against the clock and a nationwide teacher shortage. The district filled 277 teacher openings with 78 of the new hires coming from outside Utah, said Human Resources Director Steve Dimond. Of those 277 hires, 15 percent were hired under some Alternative Route to Licensure program—compared to 10 percent the year prior. The percentage varies from year to year across different subject areas, Dimond said. To date, Canyons has not hired teachers through Utah’s new Alternative Path to Teaching allowance. Human Resources’ preference is to hire university-trained educators, Dimond says. The reality, however, is that fewer college students are enrolling in educator-training programs, which in the future could leave the district and state unable to meet staffing needs, he added.

Board’s Vision, Mission Statements

The Board of Education continued its discussion regarding proposed Vision and Mission Statements for Canyons District. The Board also reviewed proposed core value and belief statements, and quantifiable indicators of growth based on CSD’s basic tenets of student achievement, innovation, community engagement and customer service. The subcommittee developing the statements will meet again in the coming week. 

Posting of the Colors, Reverence

The colors were posted by Scout Troop 3715, made up of students from Silver Mesa Elementary. Principal Julie Fielding updated the Board on the progress of the school, home to an English-Spanish Dual Language Immersion Program. Upgrades at the school also recently have been completed. Fielding said the PTA and SCC contribute to the positive environment at Silver Mesa. In addition, the school’s SAGE scores are on the rise in English Language Arts, math and science.

Proposed SALTA Testing Fees

A fee proposal for SALTA testing was reviewed by the Board. Canyons' Instructional Supports Department proposes charging non-CSD-enrolled students $50 to take the qualifying test for the advanced-learner program. The department also proposes assessing a $25 fee for repeat test-takers. The fee changes were proposed to make the testing process more efficient and save money for other classroom uses. Currently, CSD students can take the test once for free, and non-CSD-enrolled students pay $35. The cost to proctor the test is $90 per student. The Board, seeking the boost the District’s overall enrollment to capture more Weighted Pupil Unit, suggested the administration provide reimbursements to test-takers who were assessed a fee — but only if they enroll in CSD schools after gaining entrance to SALTA. The fee proposal will be brought back to the Board for another reading.

Policy Updates

Under a suspension of the rules, the Board unanimously approved a proposal to remove obsolete and outdated policies. The Board also considered for a second time several policy updates to comply with current employment practices and changes in state policy. These changes will receive a final reading and vote by the Board at its next meeting. CSD Assistant Legal Counsel Jeff Christensen discussed options for complying with a new Salt Lake County Health Department rule, which requires school-based employees to produce proof of immunization in the event of a disease outbreak or risk being excluded from school. The Board weighed a policy that would recommend that employees take the necessary steps to collect and store their immunization records. Recognizing that obtaining documentation can be difficult, if not impossible for employees who were immunized many years ago, the Board asked how much it would cost CSD to re-immunize employees who are covered by CSD’s health insurance plan. Assuming every fully-benefitted employee needed to get re-immunized, the cost could exceed $1 million, said Christensen. In the event that an employee is excluded from school, under the proposed policy, they would not be paid. But employees would still be able to draw on any available vacation and sick leave, and normal limits on personal leave would not apply.

Consent Agenda

The Board approved the consent agenda, which included the minutes from the meeting of the Board of Education on Sept. 6, 2016; a list of new hires and the termination report; purchasing bids; proposed student overnight travel; and August financial reports. 

Patron Comment 

Tracy Bennett introduced herself as a candidate for District 7 of the Canyons Board of Education. 

Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, thanked Board members for their service and willingness over the years to collaborate with Utah’s legislature. He also updated the Board on progress with a 10-year public education improvement plan being drafted by a Legislative committee, and he invited the Board to give input prior to the plan’s debut in two months.

Kathleen Riebe, candidate for the District 10 seat on the Utah State Board of Education, invited Canyons patrons to a 6:30 p.m. debate Wednesday, Sept. 28 at Channing Hall, 13515 S. 150 East, Draper. 

Recognitions

Eleven CSD students who were named semi-finalists in the 2017 National Merit Scholarship competition were honored by the Board. 

Board, Administration Reports

Superintendent Dr. Jim Briscoe lauded Dr. Hal Sanderson for his presentation on student achievement. He also commended the Board for reviewing the assessment data and asking insightful questions about the numbers. Dr. Briscoe also thanked the Canyons Education Foundation staff for planning and executing the golf tournament on Monday. The event was held to raise money for student scholarships and classroom-project grants for teachers. 

Business Administrator Leon Wilcox commended the Instructional Supports Department for receiving a $265,000 grant from STEM Action Center. He also mentioned that Education Technology Director Dr. Darren Draper is actively enhancing our technology plan. CSD also will receive about $100,000 more in Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts money, he said.  He mentioned several facilities located within the District that are up for ZAP funding. 

Mr. Robert Green said he is glad the District is forward-thinking and willing to examine practices in order to streamline and improve. He commended employees and patrons for their hard work.

Mrs. Amber Shill commented on the student assessment data, expressing appreciation there’s a plan to address achievement levels. 

Mrs. Nancy Tingey thanked Dr. Sanderson for his presentation on student achievement in Canyons District. She is pleased the District is addressing the reasons for any stagnant or declining scores. Tingey also mentioned the annual School Community Council training, which begins this week, and the Foundation’s successful golf tournament. She also congratulated Cottonwood Heights on the new City Hall. 

Mr. Steve Wrigley thanked Dr. Sanderson for his report. He also mentioned the progress on the Board’s Mission and Vision Statement. He expressed appreciation for Tingey’s involvement in state organizations.

Mrs. Clareen Arnold thanked the teachers who are preparing students for the workplace.  She also urged caution when examining test data, including SAGE, considering many students do not “test well.” 

Mr. Chad Iverson said he’s cheered CSD teams at cross-country meets and soccer games.  He said he also appreciates the volunteers in the WatchDOGS program.  He thanked his campaign opponent, Tracy Bennett, for attending the meeting and voicing her opinion.  He spoke against the proposal to allow student-athletes to transfer with impunity.  Mr. Iverson said he appreciates the fact the state school board is elected by popular vote. He also thanked Dr. Sanderson for his presentation.

President Sherril Taylor looks forward to the renovation of Indian Hills Middle. He said the community is excited for the project. He thanked the Board for their efforts to improve student achievement, innovation, customer service and community engagement. He also thanked Sandy Police for providing security at the Board meeting and in the community.
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