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Chinook's Edge School Division education plan outlines student priorities

Innisfail-headquartered division's recently approved plan identifies three principle goals: academic excellence, social emotion well-being, and career connections
MVT stock Chinook's Edge building front
The Chinook’s Edge School Division's board of directors has approved year two of the division’s three-year 2021-2024 education plan, which establishes priorities to guide division programming and promotes stakeholder engagement. File photo/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL — Chinook’s Edge School Division (CESD) trustees have approved year two of the division’s three-year 2021-2024 education plan, which establishes priorities to guide division programming and promotes stakeholder engagement.

The approval came by way of motion during the division’s recent board meeting. The division has 11,000 students in schools across the region.

The plan set out three principle goals: academic excellence, social emotion well-being, and career connections.

The plan is designed to provide stakeholders with clearly-outlined goals and objectives for the enhancement of learning opportunities for students and to keep the community informed of division plans going forward, officials say.

“As Chinook’s Edge School Division continues to provide assurance to all stakeholders, particular focus has been placed on stakeholder engagement and feedback,” said superintendent Kurt Sacher.

“This board remains deeply committed to the three goals of academic excellence, social emotional well-being, and career connections. The core focal points remain the same. All three goals are equally important and support each other.”

The board is working closely with division office staff to “ensure that schools have the supports they need to achieve the plan’s goals and have an appropriate level of accountability built into the system,” he said. 

“We feel that we have a really nice balance between support and accountability with our schools and we are already getting excited about next year,” he said.

Key priorities in the second year of the three-year plan include addressing learning gaps that have emerged as a result of pandemic disruptions, the priority for social emotional well-being with all CESD stakeholders, concerns around the implementation of new province-wide curriculum, and a decreasing trend in parental involvement.

The year two portion of the plan includes an updated results analysis, which expands on the priority areas of focus:

  • Diagnostic testing identified that students were experiencing reduced achievement, particularly in the academic area of literacy and numeracy. While these gaps were most pronounced in the early years (Grades 1-3), teachers at all grade levels noted challenges to student learning.
  • Social emotional well-being was a priority for all stakeholders. Not only were students experiencing the results of isolation and pandemic challenges, but staff members also noted feelings of fragility and bring overwhelmed.
  • Concerns around new curriculum implementation were expressed by parents and staff members. Both content and timeline were identified as challenges.
  • A decreasing trend in parent involvement is developing as depicted in the Alberta Education Assurance Measures ad from parental feedback at school council meeting and Parent Matters sessions.

“Addressing these priorities is central to multiple discussions the superintendency team shares with the board throughout the year in open and transparent strategic planning sessions,” he said. 

The education plan calls for 60 per cent of the division’s students to transition to post-secondary education within six years of grade 10. Plans to achieve that goal include having students meet with a member of the career team prior to grade 12 and providing opportunities for students to visit post-secondary campuses.

Regarding implementation, the second year of the plan states, in part, that, “Chinook’s Edge school-based administration as well as division office leaders are acutely aware of the balance regarding responsibility to our students an moving at a pace our staff members can manage. 

“It is clear that students cannot wait for academic interventions and universal support of social emotional needs. Simultaneously, staff member are implementing new curriculum and working to diagnose learning gaps and student supports.”

In support of work occurring in schools to address the priorities outlined in the plan, CESD has shifted to a division calendar “that supports the collaborative response process by identifying a professional learning day for staff members every four to six weeks. 

“These days will allow schools to access division-led professional development, support collaborative opportunities between schools, and create the opportunity for schools to conduct student support meetings.”

The complete 2021-2024 Education Plan is available for viewing on the CESD website. The division is headquartered in Innisfail.