Catholic Division “Wall Walk” shows increase in newcomers in division

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald The Prince Albert Catholic School Division board of education met for the first time in the 2023-2024 school year on Monday at the Education Centre.

School Divisions need to know what is happening in many areas. To this end the Prince Albert Catholic School Division board of education looks at School Division Achievement Data through something called a “Wall Walk”.

The board of education did their first Wall Walk at their regular meeting on Tuesday.

Director of education Lorel Trumier said they prioritize large scale reviews of data they monitor throughout the year.

“Last night (Tuesday) was an opportunity to put a culminating kind of effect on the data for our school board,” Trumier said. “They’re very active in advocacy and it’s important that they know that’s happening and what the success and the challenges are.”

The report from Trumier and superintendents Charity Dmytruk and Wade Mourot included Faith, Priority Action plans including demographics and grad rates, Mental Health and wellbeing, reading and other topics. The division aligns with provincial targets in some cases but also has its own targets.

One area of growth and change in the division is in demographics. Of the more than 3,000 students enrolled in the division, there were 896 French Immersion students. The division is also seeing an increase in students in English as Additional Language (EAL).

Trumier said that the increase in EAL students is related to International newcomers. In 2022-2023 there were 237 EAL students enrolled compared to 205 in 2021-2022.

“You’ll hear in Saskatoon and Regina the numbers rise in those particular areas. We’re seeing it proportionate to those large cities as well,” Trumier said.

The students are coming from all over the world, but Ukrainian newcomers are a large group, according to Trumier.

“We had a large proportion of the Ukrainian Catholic families, of course, that are coming to the area that want to have Catholic education, but we have also had Nigerian students and students from across the Philippines,” she said.

The division also has 1,385 self-identified FNMI students.

The faith aspect of Catholic education is important to Trumier and includes aspects such as liturgical celebrations in schools and social justice teachings.

“Not only do students have the opportunity for a prayerful life but they also have an opportunity for learning about social justice projects and caring for others as well as our gospel values,” she said. “We shared last night that over 7,000 projects (are) being done through last year on social justice in our schools and our community. (That) is a big impact.”

The division completed 7,416 Catholic Social Teaching projects in 2022-2023 compared to 4,197 in 2021-2022.

Grade 3 reading levels are another data point that is monitored by the province. The division has experienced challenges with that because of the COVID-19 pandemic and students not being in school. However, it was noted that the division is making progress.

“They are not as high as we would like in terms of the result, but as we shared, we know that we just need a little bit more time with the students,” Trumier said. “The teachers and staff have done a remarkable job of working through some of the aspects of relearning and teaching to read that the pandemic had brought.”

Students in Grade 3 in 2022-2023 had 28.9 per cent of First Nations Metis Inuit (FNMI) reading at or above grade level, 54.7 per cent non-FNMI and a total of 41.5 per cent. Students in Grade 3 began school in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“We’ve got some new projects like Haggerty programming that’s starting in our elementary schools so that will really help,” Trumier said. “We’re anticipating that to continue to grow, and then also, obviously, education, an eye on that is also very promising as well as our learning literacy intervention, so student interventions.”

The Wall Walk looks at what the school division is doing, what things will look like in the future and how to reach those goals. Categories covered during the Wall Walk included Faith, Student Engagement, Reading, Writing and Math and Graduation Rates.

Another target is fundamentals like reading, writing and math and all academics.

Data examined by the school division included Social Justice, Liturgical Services Data and Faith Formation in the Faith category; Student Engagement included OURSchool Survey data, percentage of Grade 9 enrolling in Grade 10 and school attendance. Reading, Writing and Math included topics like Early Years Evaluation (EYE) and Math results Grade 1 to 9.

The division collects student achievement data and received reports from the Ministry of Education and presented the accumulated data to the board.