Student achievement highlighted during Chinook School Division AGM

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Chinook School Division Director of Education Liam Choo-Foo highlighted a series of student achievement improvements during the Division's Annual Meeting on March 24.

Student achievement improvements headlined the information presented at the Chinook School Division's Annual Meeting on March 24.

Director of Education Liam Choo-Foo showcased some data from the division's learning agenda though a presentation of achievements in literacy and math during the 2012-2013 school year.

The Division began their Math Momentum initiative a few years back to improve student math achievement levels by setting a goal of having 25 per cent more student meeting or exceeding grade level expectations by 2015.

"In our Math Momentum the goal was 25 per cent over four years. We're 18 per cent improved in two, and we're on target to maybe meet that 25 per cent goal in three years so it would be a year ahead of time," Choo-Foo explained. "Then we would move into how do we now go into that maintenance program so that we don't lose the gains that we've had over that period of time."

His annual report also pointed to Chinook's 85 per cent graduation rate, which is higher than the 75 per cent rate reported across Saskatchewan.

Chinook students also showed higher average final marks in secondary-level courses, beating the provincial average in eight different categories.

These results included:

English Language Arts A 10: Chinook average 74.5; Provincial average 71.4.

English Language Arts B 10: Chinook average 75.3; Provincial average 71.6.

Science 10: Chinook average 72.0; Provincial average 70.2.

Math - Workplace and Apprenticeship 10: Chinook average 73.8; Provincial average 70.7.

Math - Foundations and Pre-calculus 10: Chinook average 73.1; Provincial average 69.9.

English Language Arts 20: Chinook average 74.4; Provincial average 72.5.

Math - Workplace and Apprenticeship 20: Chinook average 70.0; Provincial average 66.5.

Math - Foundations 20: Chinook average 74.4; Provincial average 71.7.

Choo-Foo noted the importance of pointing out some of Chinooks educational benchmarks and methods of tracking students achievement.

"In terms of Chinook, the learning agenda is probably the highest priority that we have. It's also one of the highest provincial priorities. If you look at Vision 20/20 that the Premier set forth where he talks about the Grade 3 reading levels and what he hopes to see province wide around that. And we've just recently adopted a sector educational strategic plan. So it's in alignment with Vision 20/20.

"Our board believes that they've made quite a commitment and quite an investment in balanced literacy and Math Momentum, and therefore they believe that we should be reporting back to our ratepayers about the progress that we're making."

Choo-Foo also had an opportunity to comment on the impact of last week's provincial budget on the Chinook School Division.

"We're still unpacking all of the numbers and their exact implications for us as a School Division. Unfortunately, it does not look like it is going to be as rosy a picture for us as Chinook as was it was for the education sector."

"I don't think it's going to hinder a lot of our major directions. Math Momentum, Balanced Literacy, those are key priorities. We're going to continue moving there," Choo-Foo said in response to the 3.1 per cent increase in operations funds to the Education sector.

"We've been pretty lucky. We have done belt tightening in the past, and as a result of making some tough decisions that way, it has set us up fairly well in terms of our operating budgets. But as we continually have very small increases, or even decreases, obviously we're not keeping up inflationary costs. So it's putting us in a more difficult position. And so each time that happens we to look more closely at whether we can still offer the same level of service and programming or not."

The changes to the grade level alignment and school facilities in Swift Current will have some challenges for the Division during the coming year.

"The only pressures in terms of the school streaming in Swift Current are going to be coming in terms of a work management piece. Our Facilities Department is stretched to the max right now. We're trying to oversee the new school building at Ecole Centennial. We're overseeing the renovation at Fairview. We will soon be retrofitting Irwin and Central. And then we have to facilitate all the physical movement of materials and equipment and people amongst all the schools in the City," Choo-Foo said. "At the same time not ignoring the 20 plus rural schools that we have outside of Swift Current. Provide regular maintenance and scheduling. We've got a major project up in Leader that's been a bit of a challenge as we replace the roof up there. And we've got regular boiler replacements…that's probably the biggest challenge we're facing right now is just managing the workload that's being created for the facilities department."

Organizations: Chinook School Division

Geographic location: Swift Current

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