Chinook changes to stu­dent as­sess­ment and re­port cards

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Saskatchew­an - BY MATTHEW LIEBEN­BERG — mlieben­[email protected]­t.com

The Chinook School Di­vi­sion made some changes to stu­dent as­sess­ment and the num­ber of re­port cards to cre­ate a more ef­fi­cient process.

De­tails of these changes were pro­vided dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion of the cur­ricu­lum and in­struc­tion sta­tus re­port at a reg­u­lar Chinook School Di­vi­sion board meet­ing, April 8.

The changes were the re­sult of a re­view by two com­mit­tees, which were formed to con­sider changes in the ar­eas of stu­dent as­sess­ment and re­port cards.

“The big­gest dif­fer­ence would be we elim­i­nated sev­eral as­sess­ments that teach­ers were do­ing with their stu­dents,” Level One Cur­ricu­lum Co­or­di­na­tor Kathy Rob­son told the Prairie Post. “So not to say that they don't do them in their class­rooms, but from a di­vi­sion per­spec­tive we only col­lect now the as­sess­ments that the min­istry is re­quest­ing us to col­lect.”

As an ex­am­ple of the changes, she noted that all the in­for­ma­tion from read­ing as­sess­ments for Grade 1-5 stu­dents were recorded in the school di­vi­sion’s por­tal, but the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion is only re­quest­ing the col­lec­tion of in­for­ma­tion for Grade 1-3.

“So we've re­duced the amount of as­sess­ments that teach­ers are putting into our por­tal to re­flect what the min­istry is ask­ing for,” she ex­plained. “Not to say that the teach­ers don't still do some of those as­sess­ments in Grade 4 and 5 to drive their in­struc­tion, but they're not hav­ing to in­put that in­for­ma­tion nec­es­sar­ily into our dash­boards.”

The changes will not only align with min­istry re­quire­ments for as­sess­ments, but will also as­sist teach­ers to spend more time on in­struc­tion.

“We were hear­ing from our teach­ers that there was too much as­sess­ment, that we were re­quest­ing too many as­sess­ments, and so we wanted to make sure that we re­spected teach­ers' time and maybe the amount of time it took to in­put that in­for­ma­tion into the dash­board,” she said. “We were try­ing to find ways to re­duce that time that would be taken do­ing that so teach­ers could be fo­cus­ing on their in­struc­tion and their plan­ning and all of that. Lots of times the as­sess­ments will help you drive your in­struc­tion, but when the min­istry started to come out with the writ­ing as­sess­ment and the math as­sess­ment, we didn't want to over­load teach­ers at dif­fer­ent grade lev­els.”

Teach­ers are still re­quired to col­lect in­for­ma­tion on dif­fer­ent grade lev­els, but it is now only done for spe­cific grade lev­els in ac­cor­dance with min­istry re­quire­ments and the school di­vi­sion is not col­lect­ing in­for­ma­tion from every grade level.

“So right now, the way our as­sess­ments are aligned, we have the kinder­garten as­sess­ment for all our kinder­garten stu­dents, then we have read­ing in Grade 1 to 3, and then the writ­ing is for Grade 7 and 9, and the math will be in Grade 2, 5 and 8,” she said. “So it gives us a nice view of how our stu­dents are do­ing in the dif­fer­ent ar­eas and we are see­ing what's hap­pen­ing at every grade level, but we're just not do­ing for ex­am­ple read­ing, writ­ing and math in every grade.”

An­other change is the re­duc­tion in the num­ber of re­port cards from three to two for stu­dents in Grade k-5. There used to be an ini­tial re­port card in Novem­ber, but it was scrapped. There is now the mid-year re­port card in Jan­uary and the end-of-year re­port card in June.

“It spreads that first re­port card out so that it's hap­pen­ing in Jan­uary and there are still our two points of con­tact with par­ents in Novem­ber and March, but the re­port card ac­tu­ally doesn't hap­pen un­til mid year and then in June,” she said. “Some­times teach­ers felt it was re­ally early to do a re­port card in Novem­ber and this way they have a lot more in­for­ma­tion and they're still able to meet with par­ents and dis­cuss stu­dent progress in Novem­ber, but they're not ac­tu­ally do­ing a re­port card un­til Jan­uary.”

Slight changes to re­port cards at the Grade 6-9 level will be im­ple­mented dur­ing the 2019-20 school year. There will be no changes to the num­ber of re­port cards for the high school grades, be­cause the re­port­ing is semes­ter­ized.

An­other change is the for­mat of in­ter­ac­tion with par­ents, which will change from stu­dent-led con­fer­ences to par­ent teacher con­fer­ences. In stu­den­tled con­fer­ences the in­ten­tion is for stu­dents to take own­er­ship of their learn­ing by shar­ing their progress with par­ents and teach­ers, but par­ents have in­di­cated a pref­er­ence for a more di­rect dis­cus­sion with teach­ers.

“When we had a com­mit­tee that got to­gether, we met with our par­ents and one of the things that par­ents felt was miss­ing is they wanted to talk to the teacher about the stu­dent progress,” Rob­son said. “They felt in the stu­den­tled con­fer­ence it was hard to find time to have that con­ver­sa­tion with the teacher about the stu­dent's progress, be­cause the set-up of the stu­dent-led con­fer­ence didn't re­ally lend it­self to that. So par­ents were still in­ter­ested in com­ing in and learn­ing about what stu­dents were do­ing and hav­ing stu­dents share what they were do­ing, but they re­ally missed that con­tact with the teacher and be­ing able to ask some of their spe­cific ques­tions that they wanted to ask about the stu­dent and how they were do­ing.”

As a re­sult of this feed­back the school di­vi­sion de­cided to re­turn to the use of the par­ent teacher con­fer­ence for­mat, and the re­sponse has al­ready been pos­i­tive.

“This is the first year that we've gone back and the feed­back that we got in Novem­ber was over­whelm­ingly in favour of hav­ing a par­ent teacher con­fer­ence ver­sus the stu­dent-led con­fer­ence,” she said. “So a lot of our schools con­tinue to have a par­ent teacher con­fer­ence in March as well.”

The Chinook School Di­vi­sion is cur­rently fo­cus­ing on writ­ing strate­gies due to a pro­vin­cial em­pha­sis on writ­ing in­struc­tional ap­proaches. Rob­son felt there is good progress with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of these strate­gies.

“Our teach­ers have changed a lot of their in­struc­tion within their class­rooms to in­clude many writ­ing strate­gies that are ef­fec­tive,” she said. “We've seen a big change in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Writer's Work­shop in par­tic­u­lar, which is a strat­egy where stu­dents have a lot of choice in what they write about. They also have a lot of time to prac­tice their writ­ing. I think just giv­ing our stu­dents more time to write and putting the fo­cus on the writ­ing has meant that our stu­dent writ­ing has also im­proved within class­rooms.”

The school di­vi­sion is con­tin­u­ing ef­forts to in­cor­po­rate First Na­tions and Métis ed­u­ca­tion into the cur­ricu­lum. Re­sources have been or­dered, teach­ers are im­ple­ment­ing treaty ed­u­ca­tion, and stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in sev­eral events in the com­mu­nity that help them to de­velop a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of treaty is­sues as well as rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

Elder helpers have been hired to work with stu­dents and staff. These el­ders are from the Neka­neet First Na­tion.

“They work with stu­dents around a va­ri­ety of top­ics, and our cur­ricu­lum co­or­di­na­tor has worked with them quite a bit and also with the teach­ers to de­velop some les­son plans that they fo­cus on,” Rob­son said. “The elder helpers can come in and an­swer some ques­tions that stu­dents might have or pro­vide some back­ground for the teach­ers. They've done a va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties. It's a va­ri­ety of top­ics around First Na­tion and Métis ed­u­ca­tion, and help­ing the teach­ers and the schools build up their back­ground.”

Dur­ing one ac­tiv­ity the elder helpers built a tipi with stu­dents at Sid­ney Street School and they have also been at Maple Creek Com­pos­ite School.

“They've worked with stu­dents around treaty ed­u­ca­tion and even just learn­ing about Neka­neet and hav­ing stu­dents go out to that First Na­tion and do some ac­tiv­i­ties out there that would be con­nected to their cul­ture,” she said. “That's been a re­ally great thing for them to ex­pe­ri­ence, what it's like to be out on that First Na­tion, and I think it's been re­ally great for build­ing that com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the school and Neka­neet.”

The Chinook School Di­vi­sion has con­tin­ued with the process to merge the Cur­ricu­lum Depart­ment and Stu­dent Ser­vices. This is due to the re­duc­tion in the num­ber of su­per­in­ten­dents in the school di­vi­sion, and one su­per­in­ten­dent now has re­spon­si­bil­ity for both learn­ing and stu­dent ser­vices. Rob­son felt the merger will have def­i­nite ben­e­fits with re­gard to com­mu­ni­ca­tion and co­or­di­na­tion.

“The big ben­e­fit is that there is col­lab­o­ra­tion among the stu­dent ser­vices co­or­di­na­tors and the cur­ricu­lum co­or­di­na­tors,” she said. “We are meet­ing more of­ten to meet the needs of stu­dents and also to meet the needs of our schools in a more col­lab­o­ra­tive way rather than each depart­ment work­ing in iso­la­tion. We know that when we work to­gether, we pro­vide bet­ter ser­vice. When we have bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion we pro­vide bet­ter ser­vice, and when we work in iso­la­tion some­times we're go­ing in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions.”

Photo by Matthew Lieben­berg

Level One Cur­ricu­lum Co­or­di­na­tor Kathy Rob­son and Su­per­in­ten­dent of Learn­ing Bob Vavra pre­sented the cur­ricu­lum and in­struc­tion sta­tus re­port at a reg­u­lar Chinook School Di­vi­sion board meet­ing, April 8.

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