At their meeting on April 8, the board of trustees for the Interlake School Division listened to a presentation by assistant superintendent Tyler Moran on the division’s four-year Continuous
Prior to the start of the 2018-19 school year, ISD decided to implement a Continuous Improvement Plan focused at numeracy for Kindergarten to Grade 8 students and wellness for students in Grades 9 to 12. Assessing the plan also involved the collection of data from provincial and divisional sources to measure its effectiveness.
Moran is taking a page from New Zealand professor John Hattie, whose book Visible Learning uses quantitative number-based methodology to determine optimal teaching strategies. However, the book has been criticized for Hattie’s statistical methods, which Moran acknowledged.
Nonetheless, he identified the factors shown to correlate to student success in the classroom, the one with the largest effect being “collective teaching efficacy.”
“What things are we doing as part of the Continuous Improvement Plan to build that collective teaching efficacy? Our response, in the shortest form, we would say there is a really intentional investment going on in our teachers and in our principals,” Moran explained.
He also outlined different strategies for numeracy such as gathering Grade 7 teachers to discuss the provincial assessment and forming a numeracy team of teachers from Kindergarten to Grade 8. For wellness, administrators have gathered for meetings four times a year and the professional development model has been revised, which includes staff from Grades 9 to 12 meeting for four half-days of collaborative learning.
“Our work … really involved bringing people together,” Moran said. “If we know collective efficacy and building a group of people that believe they can make change, these are some of the ways we can do that.”
Reduced staff at WCI
ISD superintendent Margaret Ward told the board that declining enrollment at Warren Collegiate Institute will mean one fewer teacher at the school and the plan is not sitting well with some at the high school.
Ward circulated two letters to the board: One from a WCI student and another from the school’s Parent Advisory Council, both expressing concerns over the reduced staffing allocation at the school. While a .375 full-time equivalent position has been allocated to WCI on a temporary basis to “soften the blow,” Ward said there will still be a reduction in staff.
“We have more than one location that we need to move staff out of a building, simply because we have one letter of resignation and we have three buildings (in the division) … where numbers have to decrease,” she said. “It’s not a fun prospect, but it’s a reality of declining enrolment.”
However, ISD board vice-chair Alan Campbell warned Ward that the division could be “caught” if it continues to increase staffing at a school with declining enrolment.
“I understand the balance between not wanting to gut the programming options at a building,” he said. “At the same time, I just say tread lightly with the infusion of softening measures in case it’s a false hope, because that’s dangerous.”