Superintendent of Schools – This week we will present our proposed Annual Education Results Report (AERR) to the Board. I blogged about this earlier this fall, but now we’ve laid out the various survey results, achievement measures, transition data, drop-out rates, and information from our audited financial statement and capital plans, into an incredibly ‘readable’ format to share our story about the 2016/17 school year.
It is important to remember that the jurisdictional results are the compilation of all the individual school results. Over the fall, schools have been looking at their specific school results as a staff and with parent council. Principals build a School Annual Results Report as a summary document, which highlights their accomplishments related to our three divisional goals (Learners are Successful; Learners are Engaged; and Learners are Supported), priority areas for future school education plans, and their specific school results on both the provincial measures and RVS’ satisfaction survey.
In RVS we have many reasons to be proud. Specific accomplishments we are highlighting this year in our AERR include:
- Increased satisfaction about the efforts we are making to build foundational literacy and numeracy skills.
- Maintenance of an incredibly low drop-out rate and very strong high school completion rates.
- Provision of safe and caring schools where people believe they are receiving a high quality of education.
- Our stakeholders noting that we are focused on continuous improvement.
- Our First Nations, Métis and Inuit students performing significantly higher than their provincial First Nations, Métis and Inuit peers on many academic measures.
- Putting supports in place to increase students’ regular attendance.
- Utilization of inquiry and project-based learning along with balanced assessment practices.
- Learners taking ownership for their learning.
While we have much to be proud of, we must address those items where our results are not where we want them to be. All of these challenges will take time and effort to address and we do not believe that we can resolve them in one year. Specific areas for improvement identified in our AERR include:
- Math performance from K through 12.
- Providing students voice and choice in their learning, which will improve student engagement.
- Eliminating the performance gap between RVS students and our RVS students who self-identify as First Nations, Métis and Inuit.
- Building connections, confidence and resiliency for our students.
- Enhancing parental involvement in their child’s education.
- Supporting students with special needs achieve their learning goals.
- Improving a student-centred focus across our jurisdiction.
One other item in our AERR shares how we spent our money for the 2016/17 school year. Based on a cost breakdown per student, RVS spent: $8,828.44 on instruction, $1,559.87 on Plant Operations and Maintenance, $726.54 on Transportation, and $327.32 on Governance and System Administration.
We are committed to continuous improvement and supporting students to be successful. Thank you to our staff for all of your work.
Superintendent of Schools – Last week I spent three days in Edmonton – with all eight RVS trustees on Monday and Tuesday for the Alberta School Boards Association (ASBA) fall annual general meeting, and then with a group of four trustees for the new trustee orientation put on by the ASBA on Wednesday. These ASBA meetings happen twice a year where trustees from across Alberta get together to discuss policy issues, as well as partake in professional learning. As a staff member, my role is to learn with our trustees and be there to support them as they have questions about the policy topics being discussed.
At the business session, there were four policy motions put forward from boards from across Alberta. One policy position was put forward from RVS trustees. The Board took the opportunity to bring up the topic of high school funding when they met with the Minister of Education last spring, but also decided to use the ASBA as a further advocacy approach. The Board wrote up a motion urging government to adjust the funding for high schools participating in Moving Forward With High School Design (MFWHSR). Many school divisions have embraced the approach of MFWHSR and are leveraging the pilot to create flexible learning environments for students. Alberta Education originally stated that high schools would be funded on a three (3) year rolling average (2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13 schools years) of the credit enrolment units (CEUs) earned by students. This rolling average funding model would recognize, via additional funding, schools that were able to help students achieve the outcomes of a course. If students generated more CEUs over time, then funding would be provided to recognize and support the provision of the additional learning opportunities. However, Alberta Education has since frozen funding at the 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/2013 historical rates and has not rolled forward the average based on the actual CEU earned by students in the pilot. For RVS, this means we are getting about one million less dollars each year because the grants do not reflect actual CEUs earned by our students since 2013. Providing these additional learning opportunities costs money and schools are having to revisit providing more opportunities for students as a result of the funding in the MFWHSR pilot not keeping pace with the credits students are generating.
Good news is that the vast majority of other Boards agreed that ASBA should urge government to update the funding model to reflect the original intent of a three-year rolling average. The ASBA can only urge / request government to make changes, but it is important to have the support of ASBA for proposed changes.
I just wanted to share an example of how our Board uses multiple advocacy streams as a mean to address issues.
Superintendent of Schools – Last week the Board of Trustees hosted school council representatives and school administrators at their semi-annual Joint Board/School Council meeting. The evening started with Ms. Jill Quirk from Heloise Lorimer School and her STEAM team of student leaders who work in the school to help with coding, robotics and more. We had Ms. Krista Wunsch, also from Heloise Lorimer, with four of her students who have been learning with Elders and Knowledge Keepers on the topic of Treaty 7. Lastly, we had Mr. Vernon Gray from W.H. Croxford in attendance with five students who shared their photography from the Visual Arts & Media Academy. It was great to get the event started with a focus on how we make learning visible and real in our schools.
The emphasis for the rest of the evening was digging deeper into a question we ask annually as part of our parent satisfaction survey. We wanted to hear from parents specifically about if they feel informed about their child’s progress and achievement, what schools are doing that is working to help inform them, and what strategies we could attempt in an effort to improve communication about their child’s progress.
We used on online polling tool where people answered questions on their mobile device and instantly their comments were collected and shared back with the group. The technology worked flawlessly and over about 45 minutes, we were able to collect some really good feedback. The results were interesting because for one person strategy X was a strength and for another person strategy X was listed as something we could do to improve. For one person strategy Z was seen as a positive, while someone else rated that same strategy as not really working for them.
We will take those results and see how we can use that information to improve satisfaction in that area. After collecting the feedback, we shared a brief presentation about how we are attempting to communicate student learning. We had hoped to dig into one other area from our satisfaction survey, but ran out of time. I guess we already have one topic for our spring meeting!
Thanks to all parents and school administrators who were able to attend and share their thoughts with us on that evening.
RVS Teacher, Prince of Peace – I teach 23 wonderful Grade 1 students at Prince of Peace Lutheran School. Next door to the school is the Prince of Peace Manor, which is a senior care facility. One day, I ran into my former substitute teacher Jacqueline, who is now retired and lives in the Manor. We started to discuss how to bring my Grade 1 class (the younger generation) to visit with the residents at the Manor (the older generation). We worked out a plan with dates and times and what the two groups would be doing when they got together.
Our first meeting had our “adopted” grandparents helping the students with a primary colour booklet. About 12 seniors attended this meeting, which lasted about half an hour. The students were a bit apprehensive, but soon the two groups got introduced and started working on their booklet. They soon became fast friends. Our second meeting had about 22 seniors, that is about one senior to work with every child! They worked together on their secondary colours booklet. The seniors were very impressed with the student’s knowledge of identifying primary and secondary colours and how polite the children were to them. By the third visit, the seniors and students had developed a deep bond and were so excited to see each other again. You could see their happiness from their beaming faces and sincere greetings. Their faces just lit up! This time, the groups worked on numbers and counting. Prior to leaving, the groups were giving each other good-bye hugs and telling each other how excited they were for their next meeting!
This has turned into a weekly event. The talking and visiting is so appreciated by the seniors. Some of the “grandparents” do not get a visit from their own children or grandchildren. They are so happy for the little time they get to spend with the students. The students in turn experienced the positive interactions with a senior that may not happen in their own family. Both groups have become great friends and eagerly anticipate their next meeting.
Director of Transportation – That is indeed the question that has been asked, again and again in many different ways, of our transportation staff. Why do our children have to SWIPE their bus pass?
It is something else to remember along with lunches, jackets and homework.
After all, my child has been riding for three years; the driver knows him.
My child has lost three bus passes already this year; I really do not want to pay for another one.
My child is in Grade 6 and he knows very well where he needs to go and is entitled to ride any of the buses from his school.
So… why do students have to swipe?
Swiping is necessary because:
- It is no longer common for bus drivers to drive a bus route for several years and know all their students. Turnover of bus drivers results in some students having as many as three or more different drivers throughout one year. It has become necessary for safety reasons to track students differently.
- Swiping allows us to see who is riding a bus and where a student gets on and off the bus. In the case of a delay or breakdown, we can produce a list of student riders who have swiped on the bus. Students who do not swipe will not be on that list.
- Swiping also gives us record of how many students ride a bus daily, so that we can determine if the student load on any bus is appropriate, or if adjustments to bus routes to equalize student loads is necessary.
- Finally, finding and boarding the correct bus when there are upwards of 20 buses at some schools is not a simple matter for young riders. If a student boards a wrong bus, swiping helps us to find lost students. A student who has swiped onto a wrong bus can be located quickly and the driver contacted.
The answer to the original questions is a resounding YES! Everyone should SWIPE.