News Item

Board Highlights (February 2021)

February 12, 2021

Notes from the February 10, 2021 Regular (Public) Meeting of the South East Cornerstone Public School Division (SECPSD) Board of Education

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Monitoring Report on System Goal #3 – Our division and schools effectively use information to measure, monitor and report continuous improvement.

Data drives the school division. This message was heralded by Director of Education Lynn Little together with the three Superintendents of Schools during a one-hour monitoring report on the Board of Education's system goal #3, noted above, that was shared with the Board during their February 10 regular public meeting.  Little explained, "All decisions and planning at all levels and in all departments rely on current and relevant information and data." 

Little provided a high-level overview of the overall presentation and spotlighted Renaissance STAR (Early Literacy, Reading, Math, CBM Reading, and CBM Math), a new assessment this year that was chosen after a year of research, to replace the AIMSweb universal screen which no longer met the division's needs.  She clarified that it is not so much new data that is being collected as much as it is from a different source.  Her written report included a listing along with brief summaries of 23 assessments and reporting tools that were completed at schools during the last school year and to date for all levels from early learning up to grade 12.  Data samples for the universal Lexia Core5 Reading for grade, usage, and progress reporting, as well as Star early literacy, reading and math were provided.  The Director stated that data monitoring continues to occur through wall walks at the division level (three times per year) as well as in all schools both through a visibility wall containing larger data available for public consumption as well as a private data wall with individualized student data utilized by school staff. 

The area school superintendents then provided an excellent overview of data samples, tools and information used to drive work and supports in three distinctly different areas in terms of measuring, monitoring, and reporting continuous improvement in student achievement.  The report focused on the SKOPUS-Data Warehouse, the STAR Universal Screen and a Universal Behaviour Screen, in relation to the division's response to need and programming due to the impact of the pandemic experience and the impact of voluntary supplemental learning.

West service area superintendent Gord Husband said, "We feel very fortunate to have the tools accessible to us to use data to identify and support the needs of our students." He provided an overview of the SKOPUS software data rich warehouse (used by system and school level staff) that collects student achievement data from a student information data warehouse (SIRS) which gathers a variety of student information from each school including student outcome achievement data. The tool enables system and school staff to drill down to school, classroom, and student levels to assess the data.  Husband's report included several slides of sample mathematics data and explained that strands and outcomes were assessed prior to the March 16, 2020 shutdown, and information was extrapolated out to the end of June, to identify which outcomes were and were not assessed or completed by class and individual student. 

SKOPUS provided a snapshot of student attainment when the pandemic struck as well as which students chose to participate in subsequent supplemental learning and what they had achieved at the end of June in terms of the MABE scale (mastery, attainment, beginning and experiencing difficulty).  The findings identified learning gaps and needs of each student, which was very valuable information for when staff met as teams in June and August to focus on student transitions in ELA, math, science, and social outcomes in preparation for a smooth return to studies in the fall.

Kevin Hengen, superintendent for the east service area, described the Renaissance Star program which provides assessments for universal math, reading and early literacy screens to support the Response to Intervention (RtI) model, explaining that the screen aligns very well with the western Canadian protocol which is the basis for the curricula in Saskatchewan.

The Star screen furnishes a quick snapshot of where each and every student is at in reading and mathematics and is conducted on all students in grades K-8 across the system to inform instruction.  The data is collected by teachers to be used to support students in classroom instruction or by RtI coaches to support students in a Tier 2 piece.  Hengen said he sees the Star universal screen as the backbone of the division's RtI intervention program which is a Tier 2 support (targeted support for learners who may be struggling) because based on the screen, interventions can be put in place to support students.  He explained that teachers assess students with the screen, then the student support team will help diagnose reasons why there are problems being flagged by the screener, provide interventions for those students, implement, and monitor them, and adjust as needed to try to improve student outcomes and move struggling students to the necessary grade level.  The assessment assists in providing data that pinpoints high priorities for concern and then helps to answer the fundamental question of, "Where is this student struggling?" Once those students are identified, staff will dig into the data with a diagnostic assessment to find out what skills or concepts or needs the students have in order to provide interventions.  Generally, the intervention cycle is about a 6-week process from screening to providing interventions, reassessing the screen to see if the interventions are working, in order to readjust, carry on or possibly "graduate" them from the program.

The superintendent gave samples of specific pieces where teachers can review overall scores to see how students are doing in terms of the whole class as well as a student-by-student breakdown through charts indicating whether students are 1) at or above benchmark, 2) below benchmark, a) on watch, b) requiring intervention or c) requiring urgent intervention, as well as students who have been tested and those who have not.  For instructional planning, the program provides projection data on where a student should be on their learning trajectory as well as a list of skills that the whole class or individual students need to work on.

While Hengen and Husband focused on academic data, south service area superintendent Shelley Sargent explained the Universal Behaviour Screen (behavioural emotional screening system) utilized for all grade 4-12 students which the division has used for several years, knowing that student wellness has a direct impact on student achievement.  The screen gives a snapshot in terms of the status of the health of students and identifies students in red (extremely elevated risk), yellow (elevated risk) and green (normal risk). 

Each fall, teachers screen students in terms of how they know and see the student, responding to statements such as: worries, has trouble concentrating, is good at getting people to work together.  As well, students complete a self-assessment describing how they think or feel or act, based on four responses:  never, sometimes, often, almost always for statements such as: I worry but I don't know why.  I feel safe at school.  Others have respect for me.  Scores from both components of the survey are examined, compared, and analyzed at the division and school level, taking into account the uniqueness of the current year which Sargent said has, "had us re-evaluate how we identify students of concern," to determine what students are saying and where interventions may be needed. Students scoring in the red are referred to the counsellors' caseloads, if not already on, and those scoring in the red and some in the yellow are rescreened in the spring of the school year.

Sargent summarized, "We definitely feel we are in a very good place for addressing the needs of our students." The data and information available enable staff to engage in a process to look at the whole child and provide the necessary connections and support for them.  Further, she said, "The division and schools are able to dig deeper into the data to provide needed supports … and to close the gap for students one step at a time and provide that sense of hope."

View: Monitoring Report and PowerPoint Presentation

Facilities & Transportation Report for 2020-2021

Now four years into the merger of two departments, Andy Dobson, Manager of Facilities & Transportation, stated that he is pleased with the current organizational structure and that employee groups are "getting out of the silos" and are working together and supporting each other in many different facets.  His presentation covered sector responsibilities, departmental successes, safety, and priority management systems and PMR.  Extra material was included in the presentation for the benefit of the four new board members. The top three of ten goals contained in the five-year business plan, which is reviewed annually, are: to implement a department safety program plan (which happens to nicely coincide with the three-year pilot/proof of concept project being undertaken through WCB and Saskatchewan Association for Safe Workplaces in Health), improve communications with school administration, and improve delivery of services to all schools with a view to being equitable to all.

There were several highlights in the report.  Annually, the department holds a three-hour bus driver start up meeting, normally at the end of August, which includes lunch, a PD session, and the opportunity for drivers to pick up their buses. The new Weyburn transportation shop, adjacent to the division office, is now complete.  In addition, the Legacy Park Elementary School is on schedule at 97% completion, is likely below budget and has an anticipated opening date of September 2021.  It will include 51 childcare spaces, a 21st Century design and a central transportation hub on site which will serve the entire city.  The education facility is built for a capacity of 650 students with the opportunity to add four relocatables to increase capacity to 750.  Another success was funding received through the Climate Action Incentive Fund (CAIF) to upgrade schools with LED light retrofits.  Twelve schools are on target to be completed by the end of March with the possibility of the program being extended another year to include an additional 12 schools.  The Manager explained that the pandemic provided a unique opportunity for operation technicians to complete projects in schools that were not occupied, and transportation mechanics were able to complete back logged bus maintenance.  In addition, the department constructed 600+ protective barriers for schools and delivered technology to students as well as meals to families via a nutrition program.  View the full report here.

Articles by Norm Park

Articles submitted by Norm Park, contracted reporter for SECPSD, are available at these links:  Facilities, System Goal #3

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Upcoming Meetings

February 16 - Public Section Executive Meeting

March 3 - Board Strategic Planning Meeting

March 17 - Committee-of-the-Whole Board Meeting

March 17 - Regular (Public) Board Meeting


South East Cornerstone Public School Division

80A-18th Street N.E., Weyburn, SK S4H 2W4

Telephone: (306) 848-0080

Website: www.secpsd.ca

Email:  contactus@secpsd.ca

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