Assurance in Action

Assurance in Action

Superintendent of Schools – As – sur – ance (noun) 1. A positive declaration intended to give confidence; a promise 2. Confidence or certainty in one’s own abilities.

Shortly, a number of senior RVS leadership staff will meet with Alberta Education staff to review our Annual Education Results Report (AERR) as part of Alberta Education’s Assurance Model Pilot. Our AERR is like a report card on how we are doing as compared to our 4-year plan, which say what we are doing ( We connect our goals (Learners are engaged, supported and successful) to Alberta Education’s priorities. We report out on how we are doing using Alberta Education’s survey data, our own survey data, achievement and diploma exam results. Want to see what our AERR looks like? Check it out here ->

Our AERR is provided in a digital format. As part of the assurance pilot we have flexibility and streamlined requirements with the expectation that we demonstrate strong stakeholder engagement in order to inform local priorities. The AERR is a summative piece that describes the previous school year. All that is in the AERR has actually been discussed earlier in the school year. We (and by “we”, I mean our amazing Communications team) take the disparate pieces of information and combine them into one place – our digital AERR.

The AERR is an accountability tool to ensure Boards are reporting to the public about student achievement along with successes and challenges. It is meant as a tool to provide transparency, while used for continuous improvement.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with various leaders to gather information about the various strategies and actions underway to help achieve the goals in our 4-year plan. It was an invigorating two days of meetings because we have so much going on. People want to make a positive difference for our learners and are dedicated to helping achieve our goals. At the Jan 26th Board meeting, we will provide a high-level overview on progress made toward the goals and outcomes. I encourage you to read that report, that will be posted here after the Board Meeting:

Here is my assurance statement – I can assure you that RVS staff is working very hard, with extreme dedication, to empower the potential of our learners. In my visits to schools or when people are here at the Ed Centre, I see RVS staff committed to engage and support learners so that the learners can be successful. Our 4-year plan is alive through the actions of our staff making the learning real, visible and for everyone. Anyone visiting on of our schools will see that they serve as a living, dynamic, ongoing poster for our 4-year plan in action.

School Attendance Tracking: It Shouldn’t Be Rocket Science

School Attendance Tracking: It Shouldn’t Be Rocket Science

Project Lead for Attendance Innovation Campaign – Recent North American studies report that approximately 10-15 percent of students demonstrate problematic absenteeism and, if these prevalence rates are accurate for Alberta, over 100,000 students would be placed at significant risk for academic underachievement, high school drop-out, incarceration, and mental health difficulties. Further, students who experience chronic stressors, such as socioeconomic disadvantage, are placed at an even greater risk for school absenteeism, and represent a specific population who benefits greatly from early intervention. The potential size of this issue within Alberta highlights the need for efficient and effective attendance data tracking, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms that occur at the individual school level and can be compiled for divisional and provincial review.

Across Canada, school authorities differ in their practices surrounding the collection, monitoring, and evaluation of attendance and tardiness data. These differences are unique to provinces and school divisions because each party places different emphasis on the importance of school attendance and have different technological capacities. Despite these differences, however, attendance and tardiness should not be complicated behaviour to gather accurately because they are some of the clearest outcomes we can examine in schools – presence, absence, or tardy. Unfortunately, great variability exists between school boards, schools, and classrooms in how this data is collected and the accuracy of entered information. Attempts to track and evaluate student attendance and tardiness at a provincial, division, or school level often fail before they have even started because of this issue.

Tracking school attendance should not be rocket science and the Attendance Innovation Campaign has created a draft framework that school divisions can employ to standardize their processes and increase the accuracy and meaningfulness of collected data. We are requesting input on this draft document and hope everyone can join the attendance conversation. To obtain a copy of this framework, please click here.

For more information about the Attendance Innovation Campaign and to obtain access to useful educational resources, please click here.

Open Data

Open Data

RVS Learning Specialist – For many years, municipal, provincial, and federal governments collected, generated and then published data back to their citizens. In the past few years, the availability of free data has increased and a variety of websites share data. Data can often be downloaded and re-used easily for visualization purposes. With a few clicks, entire data sets can be placed on maps to generate powerful visuals. Learning about and visualizing the numbers of the world we live in has become more accessible.

According to Wikipedia, “Open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control”.  This represents fantastic learning opportunities for everyone and I am going to share an example below.

First though, let’s look at some open data sites:

Open data from the Government of Canada:
Slogan: “Search open data that is relevant to Canadians, learn how to work with datasets, and see what people have done with open data across the country.”

Open Government, Alberta Government:
Slogan: “Use government information to do research, build apps and gain insights”

Calgary Region Open Data :
Slogan: “The Calgary Region Open Data catalogue provides free and open access to over 100 datasets from all over the Calgary Region and new datasets are being added on a continual basis. Open data is freely available to everyone in one or more open and accessible formats.

Let’s take a look at how we can play with this and have some fun. In the Calgary Region Open Data site, I found a number of interesting data sets about Airdrie on this website: Using Google Earth, I wanted to find out where the green spaces are in Airdrie. I then wanted to know where benches and garbage cans are. Below you can see my results.

View the maps here

Hover over the map below to reveal a menu to navigate


Analyzing the data before me, I can now ask informed questions, gain insights and possibly decide on further investigations that may have sparked my interest. A neat tool for the classroom. Check it out.