School Board Focused on Goals for Learning and Improvement

Robert Thomas

Setting goals and whether those goals can be achieved in an alternative manner was part of the discussion surrounding school and division improvement.

At its November meeting the Board of Prairie South School Division were presented with the first of two reports from the Student Outcomes and Achievement Committee. The report focused on student school and division improvement. 

Each school's Learning Improvement Program (LIP) takes into consideration local school achievement data, nature of the community and it’s aspiration for children and youth. The School Community Council (SCC) is consulted in the development of the LIP. 

The Superintendent of Operations annually reviews the draft School Learning Improvement Program and ensures it is signed off by the SCC. The Supervisor of Operations then annually reviews the outcomes and provides feedback to school principals 

Although many of the LIP goals are aimed towards increasing scholastic achievement Superintendent Tony Baldwin said new discussion was questioning whether the goals were realistic and if they were the right goals to strive for.

Goals such as increasing graduation rates might be better achieved by focusing on well-being and involvement as students likely to drop out would stay in school, he said. 

“We have had some discussion about whether the well-being goals might be more critical than some of the academic goals with the notion if we can change a student's sense of involvement or belonging we can probably change things in terms of literacy. In terms of (improved) graduation rates just as a side effect of that,” Baldwin said. 

“Should we even have a graduation rate goal or is it just a symptom of that? That’s something you wouldn’t have seen five years ago in the sector plan so I find it quite interesting,” he said, adding “we have some good work in our buildings connected to these well being goals.”

As part of the Learning Improvement Plans each school had to create at least one Student Learning Goal. 

Reading goals were set in 24 schools, writing goals in 25 schools and math goals were set in three schools. Some schools had more than one Student Learning Goal.

Baldwin said Learning Improvement Plans were important and SCC committees were highly involved in their creation and he typified their work and involvement as “just great.” 

Other goals focused upon student Well-Being. Engagement/Involvement/Motivation (five schools), Belonging/Relationships (four schools), Anxiety/Depression (one school), Bullying/Safety (three schools), Credit Attainment (three schools), EYE (Early Years Engagement) (one school), Growth Mind Set (two schools) and Attendance (one school.)

Despite improvements, questions were asked if goals were realistic and goals needed to be set that were achievable he said. Conversations between the committee and principals were asking for “realistic goal setting and setting goals we can actually move the dial on.”

‘We are more than likely not to achieve our goal than achieve it. That doesn’t mean we haven't made any progress it just means we haven’t gotten to the goal,” Baldwin said.

The report stated “although most LIPs show improved growth, only 29 of 71 LIPs met their targeted goal.”

The report was generated by the Student Outcome and Achievement Committee which focused on school and division improvement.