Recent Achievements

Universal Learning Environments

In July 2011, Rocky View Schools was selected along with 12 other jurisdictions to participate as a Change Agent in Alberta Education’s Action on Inclusion Initiative. Supported by targeted grant monies, RVS’ project, Universal Learning Environments: Improving Learning for Each Learner, has focused on the potential for creating Universal Learning Environments (ULE), which aim to provide the physical environment and the pedagogical practices to support the identified needs of all learners. Being piloted in six schools, classroom-based projects focus on a variety of practices ranging from the creation of advisory groups, to helping students to become self-directed learners, to addressing literacy issues, to utilizing and implementing RTI models on a school-wide basis. Each school has teams of teachers working collaboratively to increase the knowledge base within the school. It is hoped that once the project is complete in June, participants will be able to build capacity in their schools and the models they are developing will be transferable to other schools.

Learner Profile Prototype

In support of the Board’s Policies HK and HKA relating to student assessment, RVS' Superintendent Working Committee - Learning has developed a Learner Profile prototype to assist teachers identify student needs and learning styles. Built on the premise that assessment needs to be ongoing, meaningful, consistent, accurate, and embrace multiple forms of assessment as significant processes for student success in the 21st Century, the SWC established a goal to create a dynamic assessment process that provides a balanced approach, involving both formative and summative approaches and assessment “of, as, and for learning”. Following an environmental scan of what’s happening outside RVS, and ensuring alignment with Alberta Education’s Inspiring Action, the SWC designed a basic framework in Google docs aimed at helping educators understand the needs of learners, both as individuals and collectively as a classroom. Currently piloting the prototype in 7 schools, the SWC is working on creating a plan using incremental steps for supported implementation. A key goal for the work ahead includes ensuring that all stakeholders understand the use of the Learner Profile as a key component of an ongoing system of communication and reporting of student learning.

21st C Competencies Defined

Come September 2012, RVS' Superintendent Working Committee - 21st C Competencies will pilot 10 continua, aligned with the jurisdicition's Portrait of a 21st C Learner and featuring observable behaviour for each 21st C competency, integrating those outlines for ISTE, citizenship, ICT outcomes and others. As addendums to a four-page communiqué exploring each competency, the continua will serve to provide a common language and understanding of RVS Portrait and assist teachers assess the development of student skills in the areas of critical thinking, problem solving, innovation, communication, collaboration, global awarness, civic engagement, self directed learning and information, media, financial, and economic literacy.

Inquiry Based Learning

Considerable work has been completed on building inquiry-based, authentic learning models and the creation of a repository of effective strategies. Defined as “a dynamic process of being open to wonder and puzzlement and coming to know and understand the world", an inquiry based model has been  developed to help teachers understand how to engage students in authentic, real investigative work that reflects the real work of the living discipline. Assessible at < http://wiki.rockyview.ab.ca/index.php/Inquiry> to model allow teachers to explore the topic, and provides a resource guide for use in lesson planning. The guide incorporates all three components of RVS’ Learning Model and walks through developing key understanding and essential questions, authentic brainstorming, approaching a student as an inquirer, making the preliminary pitch, celebrating learning, building knowledge, skills and 21st C
competencies, accessing resources and making linkages to curricular outcomes. Currently the tool is being piloted in 12 schools, with participating schools blogging on their experience at an Inquiry
Blog accessible at http://blogs.rockyview.ab.ca/inquiry.

RVS as a Research Organization

In addition to preparing schools to implement action research projects through the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement - Cycle Five in the Fall 2012, RVS will be hosting its first Research Symposium in August for August 23 - 25, 2012, focused around “Building Optimal Student Information Systems for Enhanced School and System Educational Leadership.” In addition to reviewing state-of-the-art classroom assessment and opportunities to advance systemic assessment capacity, the research symposium aims to consider how student measures other than cognitive can inform and deepen understanding of student and school learning environments and examine how researchers can assist schools in using diagnostic reading assessment data to define and refine optimal programs for students while adding value to student information systems. The Research Conference will be organized as a highly focused and intense symposium based on paper presentations and panel reactions to papers
grouped by the topic areas of: 1) emerging cognitive and non-cognitive assessment methods supporting enhanced diagnostic student data applications; 2) using enhanced student data systems to inform systemic leadership; 3) developing assessment capacity and data use across organizational boundaries;
and 4) policy implications of the above themes. It is anticipated the conference will attract 100+ guests.

Succeed as 21st Century Learners

As illustrated through the last jurisdictional satisfaction survey, a high degree of parents, students and staff felt schools are preparing students for the 21st Century. Eighty-seven (87%) of parents and 94 percent of staff expressed satisfaction that students are learning to become critical, creative, and complex thinkers.In relation to provincial standardized tests, students exceeded provincial expectations at the acceptable level in 26 of 31 specific test results. Alberta Education’s High School Completion Rates too reveal that 8 percent more students in Rocky View are attaining their high school diplomas than those from other school jurisdictions. Equally as impressive is the fact that only 2.8 percent of Rocky View students are not completing high school, as compared to the provincial average of 4.2 percent. As in previous years, Grade 12 results on Diploma Exams are exceptional. In all but one area, students outperformed their provincial counterparts.

Building Capacity

Centred on the principle that building capacity increases the collective efficacy of a group to improve student learning, the Learning Department continues to work with groups of cohort teachers to foster exemplary 21st Century learning practices. Emphasizing inquiry and project-based learning, the team is helping to build capacity through the use of exemplary innovative practices, making greater use of educational technologies such as: the jurisdiction’s webportal, learning management systems such as Moodle, webinars (Elluminate) and video conferencing. Through the introduction of an online Professional Learning site, housed on the jurisdiction’s website, promotion and awareness of RVS sponsored, external, and online PL opportunities has been initiated. This site also provides links to the
many research projects being conducted across the jurisdiction, as well as information, training, and links to RVS supported emerging technologies. Planning also continues to enhance professional learning opportunities for support staff. Already established through the US-based Training Consortium is an online CONNECT series providing on-demand training for Microsoft Training Products.

Robust Student Information System

Concerted efforts have been made between the Learning and Schools Departments to identify the logistics of developing a robust student information system that would serve to provide instant diagnostics of individual student achievement, and inform instructional practice. Key leaders in these two departments have met several times, agreeing upon a three-tier approach to student assessment and data collection:

Tier 1 - Learner Profiles - Teachers, in cooperation with learners, will develop learner profiles to gain a thorough understanding of the needs of individual learners and the class as a community of learners.

Tier 2 - Portfolios - Learners, with the assistance of classroom teachers, will develop a portfolio to serve as their Individual Program Plan, highlighting their achievements, exemplar work samples and career aptitudes and career pathways.

Tier 3 - PowerSchool will be built out to collect dataset, including provincial test scores, to provide teachers with aggregated data at the classroom, school and jurisdictional levels.

Moving forward these two departments will continue their discussions to identify the dataset to be collected for analysis through PowerSchool.


 

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