Catholic School Division board sees how students are doing in ‘Wall Walk’

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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”.

“It basically came from the idea that we set targets to, we wanted to monitor and track and try to support understandings around what we wanted to see improvement on,” director of education Lorel Trumier said.

The board of education did their first Wall Walk at their regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 26.

The report from superintendents Charity Dmytruk and Tricia McEwen was done virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the size of the boardroom.

The division aligns with provincial targets in some cases but also has its own targets.

“Our school division takes it a step further and says, ‘okay, we know the targets for the province on graduation rates and reducing the disparity between non-first Nation and First Nation Metis students,” Trumier said.

 “Each wall walk is a time and place where we assess what’s happening with our students and trying to look at it from a students-based approach and decide what are some things that we can do to improve the target of grad rates,” Trumier said.

“You can see we have been very successful with our grad rates. We will only be happy when we reach 100 per cent,” she said.

Overall, 89 per cent of students completed Grade 12 within five years of starting Grade 10. For non-First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) the rate was 93 per cent, while for FNMI students it was 81 per cent.

Provincially, the overall average is 85 per cent, with non-FNMI graduation rates 92 per cent province-wide and FNMI rates lagging at just 63 per cent.

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. The division has worked with different strategies and kept some and got rid of others.

“I think that we are always taking what we know and trying to build a culture of continuous improvement. And that is what the Wall Walk does,” Trumier explained.

According to Trumier, one example of something that has been discussed in Science 20 and language in the class being difficult to learn.

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.

“Some of them are division-wide strategies, some are school-based strategies, and some are classroom based strategies and go down to the individual as well,” Trumier said.

“And then basing our decisions for the year ahead we do our course correction. So that if we know we weren’t successful in a particular area we are going to shift it or find a strategy that better meets the needs of our students,” Trumier said.

“We also come from the philosophy about student engagement as we proceed through the learning opportunities. So whatever engagement looks like, it can be engagement inside the classroom or outside the classroom,” she explained.

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.

“We know we have to knock down the barriers that come in front of children when it relates to graduating and one element of that is a course recovery model. We were finding out that many kids were near the end of completing the course but for whatever reason life happened to them and they just couldn’t complete the course in time for the final assessment,” she explained.

They would then engage guidance counsellors to monitor what is happening with these students, whether it was health issues or students moving back to northern communities.

Some data in the Wall Walk was adjusted as it only included information from September 2019 to February 2020 as data paused because of COVID-19 in February.

 “When it comes to the board, none of the numbers really surprise them because the board has always remained very informed about the data that we have for our school division. We have been doing this for several years,” she said.

Additional wall walks are scheduled in January and March 2021.