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New funding would target learning disruptions

“One area that has our school division concerned are the gaps that we have seen in literacy and numeracy at K-Grade 3 level," said Finnigan
MVT kathleen finnigan 1
Kathleen Finnigan, Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools superintendent. Submitted photo

INNISFAIL - Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools (RDCRS) will be applying for new funding to help address learning disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, say officials.

In a report recently presented to the board, superintendent Kathleen Finnigan outlined a plan the division is proposing to help young students in the areas of numeracy and literacy.

“As all schools have experienced, we have also seen learning disruptions in different areas in our school division,” said Finnigan. “One area that has our school division concerned are the gaps that we have seen in literacy and numeracy at K-Grade 3 level. These skills are foundational.”

Alberta Education says it will providing additional funds to divisions to support students impacted by the pandemic through new processes.

“Through dialogue with our early learning teachers, administrators and our expert literacy teachers we have identified two areas of need that would allow our staff to receive extra support and professional development in an authentic way and to ensure that we have the proper resources in people and product to reach the edges of our divers classrooms,” she said.

The two areas of need identified are teacher training to “ensure effective implementation of universal literacy and numeracy strategies” and a “model that allows for targetted intervention in literacy and numeracy.”

The division will undertake a project that would explore adding full-time equivalency of 0.4 to all schools to provide targetted support, she said.

All schools would utilize the pre-assessment tools of LENDS and CC-3 to collect baseline data that would inform next steps, she said.

“The early literacy specialist would work with the classroom teachers to identify needs and provide programming to support all learners,” she said.

The specialist would help plan professional development for school staff, support program planning, and advocate for focused literacy and numeracy interventions through the school community, she said.

“Through consistent collaboration with the administrative team, these teachers will promote the importance of this initiative and its projected impact on student achievement,” she said.

Consistent messaging for the project would include learning and development in literacy skills.

“Through research we can identify that some early literacy skills appear to be more important than others,” she said. “The strongest and most consistent predictors of later literacy for development of alphabet knowledge, phonological awareness and memory, rapid automatized naming of letters and objects, and writing letters,” she said.

Literacy though the school day will also be part of the messaging.

Activities supporting that would include playing games such as alphabet bingo to teach letter names and shapes, moving from identification to writing letters and forming simple words, especially words with high meaning for children, such as their own names, she said.

The division will be requesting $520,000 from Alberta Education to support the project initiative. As well, and additional $35,000 will be required for supporting resources.

There are about 10,000 students in RDCRS, including those in Innisfail and Olds.


Dan Singleton

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