Chinook continues focus on student success during upcoming school year

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Chinook continues focus on student success during upcoming school year

A continued focus on student success remains the focus of the 2014-2015 school year, with the Chinook School Division aiming for continued improvement in math and literacy.

The Chinook School Board hosted their first meeting of the new school year this past Monday, with the Board hearing progress reports of their Math Momentum and Balanced Literacy initiatives. Both projects have exceeded expectations, with the Math Momentum strategy already surpassing the Board's goals with a year remaining in the program.

Curriculum Coordinator Ed Varjassy reported the division achieved their fall 2012 goal of having 25 per cent more of their students meeting or exceeding expectations in math. Starting in 2011 with a base line of 47 per cent of students in Grade three, six and nine meeting or exceeding expectations in math, those three grades now sit at 76 per cent. Math Momentum achieved an 11 per cent improvement in year one, a seven per cent increase in year two, and this past year an additional 11 per cent of students moved into the target zone.

"We're really excited to see continual growth in the number of students meeting or exceeding. We had a really good year last year. We saw tremendous growth and we're now at 76 per cent of our students meeting or exceeding expectations at the end of last year," Varjassy noted in his report.

"The collective efforts of Math Momentum have helped us to achieve an increase of 29 per cent more students Meeting or Exceeding expectations, surpassing our target of 25 per cent improvement, a year earlier than anticipated," Varjassy pointed out.

In a breakdown by the three grade levels, Grade Three students have improved from 75 per cent to 89 per cent in the meeting or exceeding expectations in math. Students in Grade Six have grown from 52 per cent in 2011 to 77 per cent this past year. The largest jump occurred among Grade Nine students, where they have climbed from 21 per cent in 2011 to 63 per cent by 2014.

"It's not just one group of students, we've really moved the level of performance in math with all the kids in the division," commented Chinook School Division Superintendent of Learning Bob Vavra.

"It shows if you focus on something and put some resources towards it, you can make a difference," Chinook Director of Education Liam Choo Foo added during the meeting.

While the Grade Three, Six and Nine students are in the target group, Chinook is also tracking all students from Grade Two through Nine for their math competency. Among all students, 38.2 per cent are in the exceeding expectations category, 38.3 are in the meeting expectations group, with 14.8 per cent in the progressing towards expectations category, and 8.7 per cent are identified as needing support.

Chinook's Math Momentum improvements come on the heels of the equally successful Balanced Literacy project which began back in 2009. This project is in a maintenance phase, but the Division is still aiming for improvements, aiming to have 90 per cent of Chinook students meeting or exceeding expectations in ready by June 2017.

"We are continuing to see growth in our students, even with the maintenance, which is great. Our Grade 6 students are coming in at higher levels since that maintenance began in 2012, and so I think that is because of our Balanced Literacy in Grades One through Five," noted Chinook School Division's Level 1 Coordinator Kathy Robson.

Currently the School Division boasts 83 per cent of students in that success level in Grades Three, Six and Nine, an improvement of two per cent from the previous year.

In a break down by grades, 84 per cent are in the meeting or exceeding level in both Grade Three and Six, while 79 per cent of Grade Nines are in the meeting or exceeding rankings.

Grade three started Balanced Literacy in 2009 at just 64 per cent, making an overall improvement of 20 per cent over the past five years.

Grade Six students recorded a 24 per cent improvement growth in Balanced Literacy after originally starting with 60 per cent of students in the top two categories.

"This group of students would have had Balanced Literacy all the way through so the Grade Sixes would have had Balanced Literacy classrooms right from Grade One, so I think we are seeing the benefit of that," Robson noted.

Grade Nine students, who began with a base level of 75 per cent of students in the meeting or exceeding categories, are now at 79 per cent.

"We're finding with our Grade 9's, that they're coming in at a higher level…but then they're kind of sitting there and they're not necessarily moving. It's almost like they're plateauing a little bit at that Grade 9 level," she explained.

"One of the things that we know, if we want to see improvement in our Grade 9's, we're feeling that we need to start to focus in our middle years so we can see that improvement."

"I think we're maintaining where we are, but we want to see that improvement and we want to move towards our 90 per cent goal, which is what we're striving for. We think we have to be more focussed on the middle years and start to look at some things that I think will help that."

Organizations: Chinook School Division, Chinook School Board

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