ISD board discusses numeracy, wellness

Interlake School Division curriculum program support John Bock (right) delivers a presentation on numeracy from Kindergarten to Grade 8 as wellness support worker Melissa Beer listens during ISD's board meeting in Stonewall on Jan. 13. (Adam Peleshaty/The Stonewall Argus and Teulon Times/Postmedia Network)

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The main topic of discussion at the Interlake School Division’s first board of trustees meeting in 2020 was the progress made in the division’s Continuous Improvement Plan first implemented prior to the 2018-19 school year.

At the meeting inside the division’s offices in Stonewall on Jan. 13, both ISD curriculum program support John Bock and wellness support worker Melissa Beer delivered presentations on how the CIP has affected students so far. There are two focuses in the CIP: numeracy for students from Kindergarten to Grade 8 and well-being for students from Grades 9 to 12.

For numeracy in the early and middle years, Bock used analyses from provincial report card data collected from ISD students in Grades 1 to 8 over the past three years. In mathematics, students are rated on an ordinal 1 to 4 scale and evaluated by three criteria: knowledge and understanding, mental math and estimation and problem solving. By all three criteria combined, 42% of students achieved a score of 4 (very good to excellent) and 34% scored 3 (good). 18% of students scored 2 (basic understanding), 5% scored 1 (limited understanding) and 1% were marked ND (does not yet demonstrate understanding).

In each criterium, the average student value ranged from 3.0 to 3.2 across most grades.

While the values should please the trustees, Bock warned them not to get too excited.

“The 42% and 34% look really nice, but the fact is we have a number of students (scoring 2 or less) meaning we still have a lot of room for continuous improvement. So we continue to work with our teachers,” Bock said while closing his presentation.

For well-being, Beer, who is also a certified family therapist, described the activities done by students and staff to learn about mental health and proper strategies. For the latter, she said there are ways for teachers to tie mental health into lesson plans.

“I had a teacher who teaches French who came to me and said, ‘I never thought that I could connect wellness, well-being and French.’ And she did a whole lesson right in her Grade 10 French class around stress using French vocabulary but all the principles, as well,” Beer said.

She also added that 90% of ISD students in Grades 9 and 10 who took physical education reported “a greater understanding of mental health and mental illness” after being tested twice on the subject.

ISD staff are also currently being trained in mental health first aid and a series of well-being sessions for parents and guardians of high school students will take place at all three ISD high schools in Stonewall, Teulon and Warren in April.