New board updated on learning progress in Saskatchewan Rivers

The Sask Rivers Education Centre/ Daily Herald File Photo

In the first official meeting of the new Saskatchewan Rivers School Division board of education on Monday evening, the board received an update on learning progress in the division.

Superintendent Jennifer Hingley presented a pair of connected accountability reports on Student Achievement and Learning Improvement Plans.

“We are in good shape in terms of that with strong practices with in classrooms as far as instruction and assessment and we are aspiring for diversity in classrooms and we are in really good shape there,” director of education Robert Bratvold said.

In Henley’s report she explained that the priority areas are early years’ literacy, reading and writing as well as the on-time graduation rates. The early years’ literacy includes Early Years’ Evaluation (E.Y.E.) and a developmental reading assessment for Grades, 1,3 and 7.  Graduation rates include on time (three year) and extended (five year) graduation rates.

“We have got some concerns in some information. We always are aiming for excellence and we don’t always reach that goal. So we have got some areas where, for example math achievement hasn’t been progressing the way we hoped it would be. We have already started this year on doing some things that we can do differently to try and intervene and get that trend going in the right direction,” Bratvold said.

Because of the closure of schools in March and the current trend of schools closing or students being out of classrooms because of COVID-19 exposures ,the data did not paint a complete picture. For example there was no 2020 data for EYE a baseline for growth because of the pandemic.

During the meeting, it was reported that the Ministry of Education says that it is not appropriate to recognize what happened when students were not learning in schools. No virtual guidelines for assessments have been developed. They have suspended data collection for reading, writing and math.

“It would be nice if everything was 100 per cent all of the time but that’s not reality. We are very well grounded in the reality of our classrooms and our students’ experiences. So we want to make sure that we can provide the best we can. It sounds cliché but we are really finding out what to address and providing the best learning experiences possible to help them achieve their goal,” Bratvold said.

Tier 1 requires quality classroom instruction, Tier 2 requires quality classroom instruction plus targeted small group instruction and Tier 3 requires quality classroom instruction and individualized instruction.

The data set shows that 35.3 per cent of students are in Tier 1, 31.8 per cent of students are in Tier 2 and 33 per cent of students are in Tier 3.

The Developmental Level Reading report for Grade 1, 3 and 7 showed that First Nations Métis and Inuit (FNMI) students in Grade 3 had 21.96 per cent achieve proficiency and in Grade 7 it had risen to 78.35 per cent. The overall number for all grades was 53.69 per cent. Non-FNMI students in Grade 3 had 47.66 per cent at mastery or proficiency levels of reading and in Grade 7 it went up to 88.42 per cent. The overall number for all grades was 70.94 per cent. For all students in the division in Grade 33.69 per cent are reading at a proficient level and in Grade 7 it increases to 83.03 per cent. The overall number for all grades is 70.94 per cent.

The overall trend in Grade 3 reading levels is on the upswing in Saskatchewan Rivers. The baseline report in 2013-2014 showed only 57 per cent of all students reading at or above grade level while in 2018-2019 it had increased to 68 per cent. The overall at or above grade level reading for Grade 3 students in 2018-2019 was 75 per cent.

The graduation rates in the division were also a positive according to Henley’s report.  In 2019-2020 Saskatchewan Rivers saw 52 per cent of all FNMI students graduate within three years of starting Grade 10. This compared to 47 per cent in the province. For Non-FNMI students 90 per cent graduated in three years compared to an 89 per cent average in the province. With all students in the calculation 71 per cent of students graduated in three years in the division compared to 80 per cent the province.

For extended five-year graduation rates 69 per cent of FNMI students in the division graduated compared to 63 per cent in the province. For non-FNMI students 94 per cent graduated in five years compared to 92 per cent in the province. When all students were calculated the province saw 85 per cent graduate while the division saw 83 per cent.

Hingley is new to the school division and is visiting to schools to see what is happening at that level. Teachers in the division understand what strategies make a difference in their students and they need to continue to support that.

There was also a brief video from Ecole Arthur Pechey School with principal Brandi Sparboe on why schools are engaged because of programming in the division.

During the presentation, trustee Bill Gerow explained  he had received questions of whether School Community Councils have been involved in school level improvement.  Hingley explained to him that principals generally share the information.  Gerow said that SCCs have not seen the information and want to be more involved in education.

Brat old explained that some SCCs have different interests in the division. Some are interested in fundraising while others want the more direct role in education with the learning plans.  

 “And it is true the board very much understands that our School Community Councils are diverse. There are different interests and different focuses and so the board wants to support them in whatever way they can to be involved in that learning program and sometimes that is in the development of the learning improvement plan and sometimes that is learning about what is in the learning improvement plan and then supporting it in whatever way they see fit,” Bratvold said.