English Language School Board developing strategic plan

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Nancy MacPhee
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Multi-year plan should be devised by spring

SUMMERSIDE — The English Language School Board is currently devising a strategic plan that will take it into the future and focus on improving student achievement.

English Language School Board superintendent Cynthia Fleet during the board’s monthly meeting held in Summerside Tuesday night.

The development of the multi-year plan was discussed during the board’s recent monthly meeting held at its Summerside office.

“We committed to, as a board and a school district, to have consultations with our external stakeholders, in particular with the parents,” superintendent Cynthia Fleet told board members. “We have now concluded meeting with parent representatives from our 57 schools in the 10 families of schools. We conducted eight meetings throughout the province and throughout the school board.’

The purpose of these meetings, which included parent representatives, school principals, fleet and board trustees, was to hear the concerns of stakeholders and discuss where the board should be going in the future.

“It was a very meaningful experience. What was most interesting for me was to hear parents and school principals… and teachers themselves addressing items that they would like to see us discuss and consider as concerns to be address in the future,” said Fleet. “In particular, I think it is important that we celebrate education, the positive moves in education that have taken place in this province.

“In moving ahead with a strategic plan, it is around improving education and increasing student achievement. We do have a lot to celebrate and we cannot lose that in our view as we move ahead.”

Development of the multi-year strategic plan comes at a time when Prince Edward Island has received the lowest marks in the country in international assessment testing.

Earlier this month, the Canadian results were published of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

P.E.I. was repeatedly highlighted in the results for coming in below the OECD average in all three areas of testing, the only province to do so.

In all three testing areas of math, reading and science, P.E.I. students came in last in the country and below the average for OECD countries.

The PISA results show that Island students have been steadily declining in math scores for the last six years and fewer than one in 10 students were high performing in math. The Island, according to the results, had the highest proportion of low-achievers in this subject in the country.

In reading and science, the province’s students were the only ones in the country to score below the OECD average, with P.E.I.’s reading performance having decreased since the year 2000 from a score of 517 to 490 in 2012.

“PISA is really show you where a country ranks in a specific assessment in a certain area at a certain time. When we look at the broad range of assessments we want to look at increasing the achievement of our students,” Fleet said in an interview following the monthly board meeting. “We will have meeting with the post-secondary institutions in this province in particular and we have already been ware of some concerns around our graduates being able to handle the courses or the programs for which they are registering. And some of the students are doing quite well but we feel that more of our students need to do better.”

That, she added, is why having a strategic plan in place is so important.

“We are looking to identify a few priority areas that we will focus on over the next five years,” said Fleet. “We have a lot of positive initiatives that are happening in the province right now, especially in primary and elementary schools. We have an intermediate report and a senior high report. There is a lot that we are going to focus on.

“As a school district what we will do is focus on our mandate, our resources, our funding and determine what will be our priority areas in the next few years. A goal would have to be something that would take three, five, 10 years to accomplish. I

“It’s a long-range plan with objectives set for each year.”

Fleet said that consultations were positive and fruitful, although she wouldn’t comment on specific concerns and issues raised or what common threads there were in the discussions.

“The next part after Christmas is to pull together evidence. We are aware of other jurisdictions that have addressed student achievement and there are many factors that can affect student achievement,” she added. “We need to determine which ones we are addressing and doing well and other ones where we may need to initiate some action.”

The goal is to have a document compiled by late February and it released to the public by late spring.

“I have been asked by the Home and School Federation to share some of that at their annual meeting in the spring,” noted Fleet. “Our vision is long range. Our mission would be a 10 to 12 year mission and you pull it back to a three to five year plan. We would do annual reporting and we are going to have a target of what we want to accomplish by June 30, 2014.”

 

nmacphee@journalpioneer.com

 

Organizations: Language School Board, OECD, Home and School Federation

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Summerside

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