May 2/16: Ed Policy & Directions: Aboriginal Student Achievement Review / Student Assessment Update


Education Policy and Directions May 2, 2016
Chair: Nohr
Not in attendance: Leonard

Territory Acknowledgement900

Note: Trustees received all this information at the meeting, not before. And so would have you, had you attended. This is not uncommon. It is challenging and somewhat overwhelming to analyze the information in the moment, and to instantly think of the questions one might want to ask. With a new calendar for reports that the Superintendent is developing,  this practice should end in the next school year.

Agenda approved with addition of Notice of Motion from Nohr at 6.  Education Policy and Directions Committee meeting Minutes of April 4 approved. No Business Arising from the minutes. No Presentations to the Committee.

5. New Business

A. Superintendent Langstraat introduced student representative for May, Dawson Gittens, Lambrick Park  Secondary School.

B. Home Learners Link: Associate Superintendent Whitten : Decrease in enrolment at HLL and The Link led to a planned 2.4 reduction in staff, and a proposed closing of the K-8 program  and effects on the grades 9-12 Distance Learning component. In the K-8 sector the majority of the 35 students are cross-enrolled with other schools or programs/ Districts, with a few home schooled. Students may transition back into neighbourhood schools, with 10 transitioning to middle schools. Meetings with students and parents underway, with transition plans under development.Meeting with SJ Willis staff re all vulnerable students.

  • Superintendent: Lower enrolment at SJ Willis has led to dwindling resources.What services do we need to deliver these programs? Part of issue is how we receive funding, now piecemeal. Meeting with Jennifer McCrea, Assistant Deputy Minister . Students are turning up for the program but no funding.What should service look like and what resources should we apply?
  • Nohr: I received an email from 3 teachers at SJ Willis stating they had decided to close the program. Will send it out to Trustees. [Interesting. School staffs do not close programs; this is the purview of the Board, by Board vote.]
  • Superintendent: District  able to put .8 FTE into SJ Willis to support the transition while doing individual transition plans for students. This examination of programs at SJ Willis is not driven by cost savings. – have not had an overview for many years.
  • Orcherton: Not a bad idea to look and see if we’re doing the best we can, but would like data re services and reasons for the in depth look – the number of students and the decline. What will we do with the students? Would appreciate a fuller report. Family has benefited fro the programs there.
  • Superintendent: Intend to bring full appraisal and report to Board.
  • Paynter: Need a better sense of numbers and range of programs and supports. Family has benefited.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: These changes for this September?
  • Superintendent: Program as is to December 2016. Program is gong to close itself unless develop a vision and bridge through the next school year while making a plan.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Need to look at HLL, Distance Ed and all of the programs wit a wide approach to recommendations going forward.
  • Superintendent: Yes… can’t pull the programs apart; it’s a continuum of care model.
  • Whitten: Enrolment K-4=6; 5-7 = 16.
  • Cindy Graf, GVTA: Concerned with transition – schools get allotted 3-4 assessments per year from school district education psychologists no matter what the needs are, and these students would be additional to that . The assessment model needs to change.
  • Watters: Why the declining numbers? Going to other schools? Are students now being better served where they e in their  neighbourhood school? Is the program not functioning well so students are leaving? Need t take all that into consideration. Question is “why”. Want to track students going forward.
  • Whiteaker: As Watters said, why not at SJ? Where are they going? Hoping it’s because of good service in regular schools.
  • Paynter: Need more information on Diversion program. Students I’d like to know more about and know the least about.
  • Superintendent: Questioning why large numbers of students  have to leave neighbourhood school to get an education.
  • Watters: Will you ask parents?
  • Superintendent: Yes. Many stakeholders.

C. Student Passes / BC Transit

  • Gittens: Monthly student pass is gone, annual student pass gone, youth pass gone. Hardship for many students.
  • Whiteaker: Used to be $1.60 for one way trip, now $2.50. This is a big hit for low income families.
  • Superintendent: June 21 9 am Transit Office meeting: student reps at high schools have mobilized in schools and and are gathering information from students.
  • Ferris: I past have asked Transit to give middle school students a free pass. We need to continue to push for a student free pass. Good to see all 3 Districts giving attention to this.
  • McNally: Good to see this action from students. Had hoped with my initial motion (October 7/13, at 8.B) to establish student trustee that high school students would network and begin to use their voice as stakeholders. This is a great example. My motion last month regarding the bus pass was poorly written, so was given to students to follow up on and they have. Would students like trustees to attend as support? And Superintendents? Would show support from Districts for the student initiative.
  • Whiteaker: That the Board support the student initiative on June 21 at the BC Transit office to lobby for student exemption from recent fare increases. / Carried. Unanimous.
  • Watters: That the Board direct the Chair to establish liaison with Sooke and Saanich Boards to coordinate request to BC transit for student exemption. / Carried. Unanimous.

D. Aboriginal Student Data Report: Janine Roy, District Principal, Learning Initiatives, and Nella Nelson, Coordinator, Aboriginal Nations Education Division

  • Superintendent: Soon after coming to SD61 last year, began to wonder what Aboriginal grad numbers really mean. Met with the Ministry. Asked Roy and Nelson to report to the Board tonight.
  • Nelson: A comment re using “our” re Aboriginal students in SD61, which some have found to be a concern – totally appropriate as this is our learning community. Using Enhancement Agreement goals and global definition of “success”. New curriculum has foundation in First Peoples’ principles of learning and knowing; systemic change. Kudos to FNESC for long term work.
  • Roy: National Center on Student Engagement [ A US Initiative: “The National Center for School Engagement (NCSE), collaborates with school districts, law enforcement agencies, courts, and state and federal agencies to support youth and their families to be engaged at school. We pay special attention to truancy, dropout, and bullying prevention.] focuses on achievement, attendance, attachment. MyEdBC has new tracking ability which ANED will use,  at Risk module. SD61 to pilot this. If a student is absent for more than 4 days in a 30 day period, that will be flagged for followup. 
  • Paynter: Attendance tracking  is a blunt tool – need to know why absent. Bullying in school and related prison time is not tracked, but absences are easy t9 track so we track that.
  • Superintendent: Each bit is not the whole thing but the whole thing paints a picture.May need to develop other ways.
  • McNally: The term “absenteeism” is pejorative; it looks like a career choice. Students – and workers – are absent for reasons. They are simply “absent”, not displaying “absenteeism”. Would be good to see a student developed satisfaction survey. The Ministry one is  general. 
  • Nelson: Grade 11 is major dropout point.
  • Paynter: Ministry survey isn’t good. There is a systemic problem with bullying and we  don’t talk about it. Bullying should only  happen once. And how many times do we let it happen?
  • Superintendent: Not defending the Ministry survey. We may go on to use something else if the Board directs. Right now this is what we have. So, 1. What  to do with the information we have and 2. Do we need to gather a different kind of information?
  • Roy: Notable discrepancies with behaviour designations and gifted designations. Do we need to look at this through a cultural lens?
  • Superintendent: First Nations parents may be  reluctant to seek destinations and it’s apparent why. What is it in schools that leads to behaviour designations in K-3 for Aboriginal students, and the discrepancy in gifted designations?
  • Nelson: Generational trauma continues to manifest if not dealt with.Necessary to be familiar with trauma informed practice and teaching – a lot of trauma there. Some of what we see is very extreme behaviour.
  • Superintendent: How do we determine “gifted”? Curious statistic. A lot to consider.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Male elders in a community meeting referred to the “canoe” and bringing it back to life  the community Larger impact of residential schools and loss of culture in communities. Differences have been observed with children who have Aboriginal teachers vs teachers who are not aboriginal.And why do we even have these designations? 
  • Superintendent: Chief Andy Thomas (Esquimalt Nation) has asked “How can we have more community in our schools? Our children don’t struggle in community.”
  • Nelson: 50-60% on reserves. Partnership with QA Early Childhood Services.
  • Superintendent: Re Achievement, we don’t have data on reading proficiency by Grade 3.
  • Graf: Rogers School uses Fountas and Pinnell for every student. Challenge is time and resources. This assessment gives direction for teaching.
  • Paynter: How many students have comprehensive eye exam before school? Current screening is very coarse filter.
  • Roy: FSA data may be useful. If students don’t write FSAs we don’t know how they’re doing. [The classroom teacher knows “how they’re doing”, but FSAs are province wide and provides (questionably valid) data for such a comparison.] 42% are not meeting expectations, and 52% did not write. Grade 7, 48% who wrote were not meeting expectations, vs 18% for non Aboriginal students. don’t know how many students are not taking English 10.
  • Nelson: Communications 12 vs English 12, does not allow going on to post secondary.  1/5 of Aboriginal students are taking Comm 12. We need to encourage students to take English 12 First Peoples and / or English 12.
  • Roy: 6 year completion rate is how many graduated who started grade 8, in 6 years.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Requesting data on off and on-reserve and Metis students. Terminology is moving away from catchall “Aboriginal”. Do we have 7 year data?
  • Superintendent: In conversation with Ministry: some data broken down, not all. Will meet further and bring back data.
  • Nelson: Esquimalt High School tracks that data. On reserve rate of graduation far less than off reserve. Maybe need a new descriptor with new court ruling. No 7 year data .

Aboriginal Learning Plan Executive Summary: April 27, 2016
The following factors can be used to predict graduation:

  • Attendance
  • Attachment
  • Achievement

Data used to track these graduation prediction factors:

  • Attendance data
  • Satisfaction surveys
  • Special Education designations
  • Reading at grade level by end of Grade 3
  • Grade 4 FSA participation and achievement
  • Grade 7 FSA participation and achievement
  • 6 Year Completion Rates and Completion Rates by Gender
  • English 10 Completion Rates
  • English 12 Completion Rates

Next steps:

  • Establish systems to track attendance
  • School-based systems monitor student reading levels to provide timely intervention supports
  • Explore disparity in behavior and gifted designations to determine how to support all learners
  • Monitor FSA participation and achievement to provide support
  • Monitor 6 Year Completion rates and Completion rates by gender to implement support
  • Promote English 12 completion rates





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E. Process Review For Educational Assessment [Ed Psych Assessments]: 
Marvella Preston-Bain, District  Principal

Students with special needs may require additional support and accommodations to enable them to access and participate in educational programs. The Basic Allocation, a standard amount of money provided per school age student enrolled in a school district, includes funds to support the learning needs of students who are identified as having learning disabilities, mild intellectual disabilities, students requiring moderate behaviour supports and students who are gifted. Additional supplementary funding recognizes the additional cost of providing programs for students with special needs in the following categories: dependent handicapped, deafblind, moderate to profound intellectually disabled, physically disabled or chronic health impaired, visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and intensive behaviour interventions or serious mental illness…. Documentation to support all claims for Level 1, 2 and 3 special needs funding must include all of the following: (refer to 1701 Form Instructions and the Special Education Services Manual of Policies, Procedures and Guidelines (PDF) for full details)

  • Assessment and identification in relation to the criteria for that category…


Some summer assessments done to catch up on assessments not done in school year. As well, re-assessments for CLBC eligibility at  transition from school must be done. SD61 has 10 education psychologists,  equal 8.0 FTE.

  • McNally: Perhaps the incidence of French Immersion students needing assessment would be lower if Immersion began in Grade 3. Then students would have demonstrated any struggles they have with English reading and writing. Has any school not used its allotment of Psych Ed assessments for the year?
  • Preston-Bain: Yes, and that allotment is then shared with anther school.
  • Superintendent: Orcherton commented that the Board once put in extra funding to catch up on the backlog of assessments. Is there a backlog now?
  • Preston-Bain: Have a summer list, with 7-14 5 done in the summer.Do 40-50 assessments a year over the District.Assessments for funding categories are based on the 2013 revision of the Special Education Manual.
  • Orcherton: Can anyone call a meeting of the school based team?
  • Preston-Bain: Don’t “call one”; meet on a regular schedule, called by Chair (often the Principal), with a list of students who have been referred to the team.
  • Superintendent: What if the parent doesn’t want an assessment?
  • Preston-Bain: the psychologist will talk with the family , with an interpreter if needed. Before that, the Learning Support teacher will have made contact. Psychologists are bound by the College – they  cannot assess without parental permission.
  • Paynter: what is the utility of a LD designation? It doesn’t attract any funding.
  • Learning Support Teacher: One of the major uses is, it shows the child that their struggles are not due to a character flaw. And later, can qualify for assistance services at UVic.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Can classroom teachers or administer the KTEA?
  • Preston-Bain: No, administered by personnel with Level B assessment qualification.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: How long from referral to test to designation?
  • Preston-Bain: A couple of months.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: have had calls from parents  concerned about a much longer timeline.
  • McNally: Experience from teaching learning support / special education for 22 years was  the school had a long list, and parents would not be told their child was listed for assessment until the child rose in the list to the point  at which the  assessment could be done that year. Some students were on the school list for years. Some parents, whether they could afford private testing or not, had it done privately.
  • Nohr: (to learning support teacher) What are your thoughts on the current “push in” (in classroom) service?
  • Learning Support Teacher: Will try it again but for the last quarter have done pull out assistance and students  were happier. Students were over-stimulated  the classrooms.High school students however don’t like pull-out programs and prefer learning support blocks staffed by a learning  support teacher and an education assistant, a block that can be enrolled in  as part of the timetable. In an 80 minute block, 2o minutes might be devoted to study skills and 60 minut4s of direct help with homework.


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6. Notices of Motion:
a) Nohr: That the Board initiate a temporary change to the Education Policy and Directions Committee that would allow the Committee to meet at 4:30 for September to December 2016, with a review at the December Education Policy and Directions meeting.

7. General Announcements: None
8. Adjournment:
10:20 pm

About Diane McNally