Click Here to View November 22nd Board Meeting Agenda
Brockville – Trustees with the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) met on Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017 to discuss a number of topics including:
Carleton Place High School Presentation: Principal Eric Hardie presented on how his school is working to enhance staff and student well-being, and improve math and literacy scores through its School Improvement Plan for Student Achievement. To increase literacy scores, the school is employing assessment tools to evaluate students’ reading and writing capabilities. Students regularly practice sample EQAO test questions. Staff identify shortcomings in their students’ understanding, and then focus their instruction in these areas to increase achievement. This focus is not just in English class, but on students’ reading and writing across all subject areas so there is consistency in their learning.
In mathematics, the focus of the school is on Grades 7-9 with noteworthy results. The school is asking students to practice with EQAO-type questions and then staff use an online assessment tool to evaluate student progress. They find areas where students are having problems – such as with algebra and number sense – and then focus instruction in these areas. The approach has meant a 42 per cent increase in the number of students reaching the EQAO standard in academic math over the past four years, and a 28 per cent increase over the past five years in applied mathematics.
The school is also working on ways to enhance staff and student wellness through “Mindfulness Training” or the use of breathing exercises and basic meditation. The initiative grew out of feedback that the school staff collected from students through the “Tell Them From Me” survey.
Pineview Public School Presentation: Principal Trisha Johnston presented Pineview’s School Improvement Plan for Student Achievement, and discussed ways staff are using it to improve student literacy and mathematics scores, and enhance student wellness. In literacy, the school is closely monitoring reading levels and is using specialized programs to test for skills such as letter identification and sound recognition to design programming that increases student understanding. Teachers are also developing “success criteria” created in partnership with students to clearly display what is expected in their work.
In mathematics the school is using several strategies to enhance understanding including: using “focus students” as guideposts to evaluate student work and improve the effectiveness of teaching; setting learning goals and success criteria; observing, documenting and analyzing student thought processes used to arrive at solutions to better guide their understanding; analyzing student work to plan next steps; and using specialized resources produced by the Ministry of Education to augment instruction.
For wellness, the school has employed initiatives such as: the Panthers of the Week program where students are honoured for demonstrating a Board character trait; School-Wide “Student Voice” surveys; providing healthy food bins so students can select a healthy snack while at school, and the development of hydroponic towers that allow students to grow their own food.
Director of Education’s 2017-2018 Work Plan: Director Stephen Sliwa presented a status update on the Director of Education’s Work Plan. The intent of the update was to: inform Trustees about progress made since the launch of the plan in September; to provide an early indication of the work underway; and to offer a brief summary about the progress made toward achievement in the work plan’s four areas of focus: Graduation Rate, Staff Culture, Student Culture, and Community.
Accomplishments cited included:
- Creation of an online database to track Grades 7-12 students at risk of not graduating, including the development and use of an “at risk” data update that is sent to principals monthly
- Creation of preliminary communications material to connect school staff, and central department staff, with the goals and objectives of the CREW Strategic Plan
- Hosting a series of focus groups with staff to find ways to better improve communication and to track results
- Training for staff on the provincial Supporting Minds resource, emphasizing action and active listening to support student well-being.
- Increasing the number of secondary schools using the District administration model and reviewing results of the Tell Them From Me Student Survey with schools, adding eight schools to the process in 2017-2018.
Director’s Quarterly Report: Director of Education Stephen Sliwa presented his quarterly report to Trustees, detailing his three major accomplishments from the last three months: initial implementation of the 2017-2018 Director’s Work Plan to champion student learning and provide effective strategic leadership and management; introducing new Superintendents Jodie Barrett and Ron Ferguson into the management structure to boost student learning and achievement; and improvements to the Board’s Equity and Inclusion and Well-Being programming to promote positive change.
Upcoming challenges in the coming three months are: follow-up and support for any remaining recommendations from last year’s Pupil Accommodation Review; maintaining a focus on performance management at all leadership levels; and initiating a response to findings of the Regional Internal Audit.
Priorities over that same period are to: continue implementing the Work Plan, hire a new Superintendent of Business, and continue school visits to observe and promote District-wide priorities in numeracy and literacy.