June 5/17: Ed Policy&Directions: Inclusive Education Review

P 2

Education Policy and Directions June 5 /17
Chair: Whiteaker
Members: Ferris, Nohr, Orcherton , Whiteaker;  Loring-Kuhanga ex officio (vote but not counted for quorum)
Present:  Ferris, McNally, Nohr, Orcherton, Paynter, Watters, Whiteaker
Absent:  Leonard

Territory Acknowledgement900

1. Approval [Adoption] of Agenda:  Adopted.
2. Approval of Ed Policy & Directions Minutes: May 1/17 approved with corrections:

  • P3 McNally noted that “Motion carried unanimously” means only Trustees who can vote at that meeting voted unanimously. McNally spoke against the BAA courses at 5.B a0, b0, c0, and d0, , but this record makes it seem that all present voted for them. Asked for clearer notation of Standing Committee votes.
  • P4: McNally asked for clarification regarding a “pilot project” for Literacy  at C1 that was not brought to the Board for approval. The Deputy Superintendent said it was not actually a pilot project, that the terminology was incorrect and would be removed.
  • P 4 D: McNally noted that a motion was referred with  no record of the mover of the motion or the vote, which should be corrected.

Lined Paper report here:  May 1
3. Business Arising From the Minutes: N/A
4. Presentations to the Committee:None [New Business below really should have been here]
5. New Business
A. Student Representative:
Superintendent introduces Gabrielle Rutman, Esquimalt Secondary (absent)
B. Middle School Ad Hoc Committee Update: P 6 agenda

  • Paynter: Exploratory teachers presented in the past about feeling isolated.
  • Associate Superintendent Whitten: They provide prep time release for teachers, so we are looking for opportunities for them to have collaboration opportunities.
  • McNally: Reference to a student rep “when appropriate” – when wouldn’t it be appropriate? / Paragraph 3 says key components “should” be available in all our middle schools. Why aren’t they?
  • Associate Superintendent: For example, discussions  secondary timetabling issues… not relevant . / They are but in different formats.
  • Orcherton: How  are the pillars of excellence doing in terms of then – when middle schools first began in SD61 in 2002 – and now?

4 Pillars of Exemplary Middle Schools  [SD61senior staff  (the “Boulder Group”)travelled to Boulder Colorado in the early 2000s]:
1. Advisory
Each student is placed in a class group called an Advisory. Students have an Advisory teacher who is their primary care giving adult in the school. Advisory teachers are also the main contact with a student’s home. Students meet their Advisory teacher at the start of every day for approximately 30 minutes and part of the academic program is taught by the same teacher. Advisory sessions develop the emotional and social intelligence skills of our students. Advisory is very much the soul of our program at Cedar Hill.2. Interdisciplinary Teaming, Planning and Teaching
Students are organized into ‘teams’ of three or four advisories creating a ‘school within a school.’ Each group of students shares a schedule and is taught by the team of teachers. Team teachers plan together, sometimes teach together, and sometimes share subjects and the design of interdisciplinary units together.
3. Flexible Block Scheduling
Most of the timetable for each advisory is flexible. Teachers have the freedom to decide when each discipline is taught as long as the outcomes for each course are addressed and mastered. Each team receives allotted times to access the gymnasium. Band and Exploratory classes are also scheduled for them.
4. Exploratories
All students in a team receive the same exploratory classes. Each student participates in three ten week long exploratories which may include Woodwork, Foods/Textiles, and Art. If teams are larger than three advisories, extra exploratories are added. Exploratory classes add opportunities for creativity, provide a focus on life and develop leisure or vocational skills.

  • Associate Superintendent: Committee is making comparisons with what was exemplary then and now.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Consider combining advisory and other curriculum to create more FTE for exploratory teacher.
  • Associate Superintendent: Recommendations will come to the Board from the Committee; have been considering this.
  • Paynter: What did middle school reconfiguration hope to achieve? Was based on American models. Research did not support academic improvement. But  what do we base success on?
  • Associate Superintendent: We look for attachment, attendance, successful transition to grade 9, effectiveness of advisory blocks – the pillars. Are they still effective? Yes, still successful.

C. Inclusive Education Review: P 7 names of presenters. Kyla Cleator and Marvella Preston-Bain intro. [Notes fromh all Pp 10-17 agenda.]

Teri Bembridge, District Learning Support Teacher: Support kids with significant challenges in school. Kindergarten is the most significant transition. Working with school Districts 61, 62, 63 in collaboration. Contact begins in December at Q A preschool. The meeting is set up with parents in January preschool is often when families find out that a child needs extra support for example support for autism. School District 61 provides a social story, orientation, various other services.

Mitch Barnes, Gifted Education Resource Teacher: Contacted by teacher / administrator / parent. “Alice”, Grade2  student, very capable but losing interest. Psychoeducational testing resulted in “gifted”. What if only 1 or 2 gifted students in a school? Create a group of similar capacity students for much needed social growth and connection.

Christina Pelletier, District Psychologist: “Sophie” example. Had 2 hour interview with parent to set up services for transition to next grade in middle school when challenges became evident; assessed for learning strengths and needs; emotional components were notable; needed significant school and community support.

Daphne Hitchcock, Itinerant Teacher of Visually Impaired students: Use Google docs and specialized Braille device, can upload writing and share with peers.Braillist prepares material daily – 4 academic Braille readers in SD61.Will be 5 next year.

Camille Traverse, Speech-Language Pathologist: Using Expanding Expression tool. SD61 SLP caseloads far higher (3 times) than the standard.

Dana Marchant, Behaviour Consultant: Single position for all of SD61. Students may or may not have Ministry designation or medical diagnosis. Child “not managing in classroom”.

  • McNally: Ironic that the inclusive learning staff are based at Victor School, a stand alone building for students with special needs / challenges  that is isolated from inclusion with other schools. If the model is now strength based rather than a medical diagnosis model, does this mean there is a push for no more funding categories? How many District Learning Support teachers are there?
  • Bembridge: Some parents believe their child is safer in the environment at Victor School. It’s a parent choice. / No, there is not a push for no more funding categories. / There are 3 DLSTs.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Struggle with the paradigm shift of this move from deficit to strength-based, yet funding is not based on the strength model at all. We get funded on a deficit model.
  • Superintendent: There are a number of jurisdictions that fund differently. Our system requires significant amount of human resources to secure funding before we even look at what the support will be. Need to have longer deeper conversation with the Board about this.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Looking at the SLP caseload. How much support are students getting when SLPs carry 3X the recommended caseload?
  • Superintendent: This has to do with how funding comes in and how it’s distributed. Hours are spent on paperwork. Another conversation needed. What are alternatives and how to advocate.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: Do we have caseload numbers for counsellors?
  • Harold Caldwell, Director of Learning: Well over recommended numbers.
  • Paynter: Any more info on case loads?
  • Pelletier: An elementary counsellor has 6 to 7 schools on the caseload, 1000 -1200 students.
  • Paynter: School counsellors come and go, change schools. Not good for relationships when counsellor changes year to year.
  • Bembridge: Not optimal but we all work in similar ways – many are part-time, there are mat leaves and so on.
  • Nohr: How is EA support provided before a designation is approved by the Ministry?
  • Bembridge: We build on Universal Design for Learning. And the principal can deploy EA as needed.
  • Cleator: Some situations require support on an urgent basis in order to support the teacher, the student, and the parents.
  • Nohr: IEP’s have always been developed on the strength and needs model always so not so black and white.
  • Bembridge: District is working on an IEP template to increase flexibility. Looking at this in terms of Shelley Moore.
  • Watters: How are we doing? How do we measure success? Need  comparables. Are all Districts in province carrying these heavy caseloads? This needs to be an ongoing conversation with an advocacy plan. How high is too high for these caseloads? Are we already there? If so, now what?
  • Superintendent: Discussion is needed,  asap. Will bring Board information and will have to follow-up with the discussion part.It would be interesting to compare districts in BC or look beyond BC, but the question is, are we meeting the needs?
  • Watters: We need metrics for advocacy.
  • Ferris: Board requested more info on inclusion so we have a better understanding of how it works in SD 61. Thank you.
  • Whiteaker: Any further questions, submit to Associate Superintendent Green and replies will be provided back to all trustees. Will be topic for first Ed Policy in September.
  • Loring-Kuhanga: When his adaptive Tech introduced for example JAWS doesn’t seem to be used, and Braille is emphasized. What about using technology instead? Would like recommendations coming forward from this review tonight re  advocacy.
  • Hitchcock: JAWS is used, as well as voice technology. Braille is literacy. It’s the equivalent of print. Listening is different from reading.
  • Nohr: No classroom teachers here to get their perspectives on how this is all working for them in the classroom. Have heard about a continuum of inclusion. This is tremendous work, but it can’t all be done in the classroom.

Suzanne Bancroft, Itinerant Teacher of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students: As a teacher of DHH students, often stay with student from kindergarten to Grade 12. Work with classroom teacher and learning support teacher, or large multidisciplinary team. One student’ is deaf, blind, and nonverbal, learning to use  American Sign Language.

Melinda Budgell, Elementary Counsellor: Students are referred to the school-based team when the teacher brings a student forward for discussion at the team. If behaviour is particularly challenging  a counsellor will request a pediatric consult regarding school concerns, if they are notable. Counsellor becomes involved with tracking behaviours at the school. If needed, other Allied Specialists , for example a speech language pathologist, may be involved. Thinking of one child who needed support from an education assistant right away, but there was no funding, so as the EA  was taken from another child when possible.

About Diane McNally