School District No. 46 (SD46) is armed with a new achievement contract to improve performance in six areas: early learning, literacy, numeracy, Aboriginal enhancement, social responsibility and completion rates.
Under each heading the contract explains where students are at now, shows the district’s goal in that area and gives strategies to get there.
“We think it addresses the essential needs in our community and in our district. I think it’s important to emphasize as well that an achievement contract doesn’t address everything,” said superintendent of schools Patrick Bocking. “These are just things that we are specifically focusing on at the district level, but that doesn’t mean we’re not doing arts, we’re not doing physical education and that kind of thing. We can’t focus on everything or it wouldn’t be a focus.
“We need to focus on some things to really work on and really nail really well and that’s what this achievement contract is all about.”
Under the heading of early learning the report shows that only about half of students currently start kindergarten with the skills needed to succeed.
“Right now when we accept the kids at the beginning of the school year we have a team that does a screen of those children and we find that 53 per cent of them are at a level where we feel they are really ready to learn and ready to go,” Bocking said. “Obviously we feel that we can improve on that.”
He said SD46 has one of the best early learning programs in the province and if more people took part the numbers could change. One of the strategies under early learning is to promote involvement in SD46 early learning programs and increase the accessibility and availability of services and supports.
The statistics for literacy show a slight trend of improvement between 2008 and 2012 with an average of around 80 per cent of students meeting or exceeding expectations.
The plan calls for bumping those numbers up to 85 per cent by June 2013, 90 per cent by 2014 and 95 per cent by 2015.
In order to meet those targets, SD46 plans to support teachers better, establish consistent district reading assessments and increase the use of digital technology in literacy instruction, among other things.
In numeracy statistics show that performance in grades 4 through 7 are trending downwards with only about 70 per cent of Grade 7 students meeting or exceeding expectations.
The target for this area is to have 85 per cent of students meet or exceed expectations in numeracy by June 2013. By 2014 SD46 wants that number to reach 90 per cent and in 2015 they expect 95 per cent of students to meet or exceed expectations.
In order to do this, the achievement contract calls for things like exploring the use of mathematics performance standards, differentiating instruction to meet the needs of individual learners and encouraging collaboration and sharing of experiences between teachers.
Statistics throughout the document show that Aboriginal students are falling behind their non-Aboriginal counterparts in every area.
To help, SD46 has come up with three goals: to increase Aboriginal literacy levels, increase the number of opportunities for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students to engage in culturally based learning and to increase the number of Aboriginal students graduating. Currently about 62 per cent of Aboriginal students graduate compared to about 80 per cent of non-Aboriginal students.
The number one goal is to increase graduation rates of Aboriginal students to 70 per cent in 2013, 77 per cent in 2014 and 85 per cent in 2015.
Strategies include implementing the draft enhancement agreement with its own strategies to increase the academic and personal growth of all Aboriginal students, increase support staff, increase the presence of Shishalh cultural advisors in schools and offer more support programs specifically crafted for Aboriginal students.
In the area of social responsibility statistics show that about 90 per cent of kids feel safe in Grade 4, but of students polled in Grade 10, only about 75 per cent feel safe.
Targets in this area are to increase that to 84 per cent of students feeling safe in 2013, 88 percent in 2014 and 95 per cent in 2015.
Strategies include encouraging Roots of Empathy programs in schools, integrating social responsibility goals in school growth plans and organizing a student forum on safety at every school.
Finally, under the heading of completion rates, SD46 wants to bump them up from 80 per cent to 85 per cent in 2013, 90 per cent in 2014 and 95 per cent in 2015.
To do this SD46 plans to survey students to see where their struggles are, provide more flexibility and choice for students to reach graduation and to utilize technology and distributive learning programs to offer alternatives for meeting graduation requirements.
The achievement contract is ambitious, but also needed, Bocking said, to help all students be successful.
To view the achievement contract go to www.sd46.bc.ca/index.php/achievement-contract.