Prairie Post (East Edition)

Chinook seeing positive results from learning response plan

- By Matthew Liebenberg mliebenber­g@prairiepos­

The implementa­tion of a learning response plan to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to deliver results for the Chinook School Division.

Superinten­dent of Learning Bob Vavra provided details about the implementa­tion of the plan during a regular Chinook School Division board meeting, Oct. 11.

The Chinook Learning Response Plan was created to align with the Ministry of Education Priority Action Plan. The focus areas of the plan are interventi­ons for literacy and math as well as mental health awareness and support for students.

Provincial­ly the math and writing assessment­s of students were put on hold as a result of the pandemic, and currently the Ministry of Education is only collecting data for reading results.

Reading results of Chinook students dropped as a result of the pandemic, but an early response helped the school division to see an improvemen­t in reading levels above the average for the province.

“We identified early that COVID was going to have a major impact on our reading results and we put plans in place fairly rapidly within a couple of months to put additional supports into schools and target students at the Grade 1-3 levels,” he said. “You could see it made a big difference. Our numbers were down overall, but they would have been a lot lower, had we not have put in these supports and interventi­ons. As a result of that, we’re about 10 per cent higher than the province across the board in our reading levels.”

The Chinook learning response plan includes literacy support plans, numeracy support plans for certain grades, some curriculum plans, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) education plans.

The school division mainly focused on curriculum plans in the first part of the pandemic, but now the focus is more on support for new classes and on working with teachers to help them achieve outcomes.

The latest Chinook reading results are higher than the provincial average. Grade 1 results are 9.7 per cent higher, Grade 2 results are 12.4 per cent higher and Grade 3 results are 6.6 per cent higher than the provincial average.

The reading results for FNMI students in the Chinook School Division are also higher than the provincial average in 2022. Grade 1 results are 18.8 per cent higher, Grade 2 results are 13.8 per cent higher, and Grade 3 results are 30 per cent higher than provincial average.

A variety of literacy and math supports were in place during the past year to assist teachers and schools, including additional staffing for literacy and math interventi­on, webinars and additional profession­al developmen­t for educationa­l assistants and teachers, as well as ongoing coaching.

The school division made effective use of technology for profession­al developmen­t (PD) activities, which made it possible to connect with staff without a need for them to travel.

“Not only are we using different resources within the classroom, but we’re using different modes of communicat­ion to reach teachers and deliver PD,” he said. “It’s a lot more effective to have smaller PD sessions after school than have daylong sessions where people are driving up to five hours a day within our division to come for PD sessions.”

Additional literacy and math resources were purchased, which helped to alleviate the impact of some staff losses in recent years.

“We lost a little bit of staff over the past few years, and a lot of those staff have been used for interventi­ons or additional time,” he explained. “So what we’re looking at is if there are things that we can do to give teachers, schools, and classrooms, where they can do those interventi­ons within the class so they don’t acquire additional supports.”

For 2022-23 the school division’s goal is to focus interventi­on support on schools that need it the most. Chinook will also be implementi­ng a division-wide tracking system to ensure that student interventi­ons will take place in a timely manner.

“It’s a really quick way to track and then we’ll just monitor whether they’re progressin­g or not, and if they’re not, then we have to do additional interventi­ons for those kids,” he said.

The school division will continue to use literacy and math coaches to support new teachers, to do early interventi­on and support improvemen­ts in targeted areas.

“Nothing works better than somebody coming in, watching the teachers in their classroom, and then working with them in the classroom and doing the demos, but then also the observatio­ns,” he said.

Chinook will continue to offer profession­al developmen­t sessions, which will align with literacy, math, curriculum and mental health initiative­s, and there will also be balanced literacy coaching for new kindergart­en to Grade 8 teachers.

Vavra’s presentati­on included details about the school division’s mental health and wellbeing response plan for 2022-23.

“This is the second year for the health and wellness plan, and it came from the provincial priority action plan,” he said.

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