Clarity and alignment were the two themes emerging from a review of the District’s Indigenous Education Department, reported District Principal of Indigenous Education Anne Tenning to the Board on Tuesday.
She noted for the first stage of the review a consultant came in and conducted 30 one-on-one interviews. From these interviews it was determined that there was a lack of clarity, especially around the requirements of targeted funding and budgets, where services and programs are being offered, and the distribution of staffing.
She added alignment also emerged as an issue, including the need for better connection between district goals and achievement of Indigenous students, cultural awareness training for all staff, and Indigenous Education spaces needed in schools.
A plan has been developed and implemented to address these concerns including Indigenous targeted funding and audit criteria presentations to the Indigenous Education (IE) staff and the principals and vice principals, a review and changes to the distribution of IE staff allocated to each site, and more regular communication updates to IE staff, and principals and vice-principals.
One thing which as been added, and which has been very popular with schools, is a .5 Local Language teacher. Tenning added they are also running a late literacy intervention pilot project at Len Wood, which they hope will improve graduation rates.
She added the next stage of the program review is to collect more feedback from students, parents/guardians, and Indigenous Communities through focus groups, surveys and community engagement sessions. There is also a plan to increase the use of data to review Indigenous student achievement, and to do a history of IE in SD83 to put together a summary of the stories that have shaped the department.
There are also plans to update and maintain the IE website, increase collaboration with other departments, and provide cultural awareness training to all new staff.
“There is lots of very good work going on by people who care deeply for kids, but overall there wasn’t a shared view of the purpose. What we’re trying to accomplish here is to take all that good work and capture it under the category of meaningful graduation,” commented Superintendent of Schools/CEO Peter Jory after Tenning’s presentation.
Jory and Tenning added the goal is by 2023 is to have a 90 per cent graduation rate for all district students. Tenning added there is a lot of work ahead (the District’s Indigenous Education grad rate currently sits at 67 per cent) but she pointed to data from Kamloops and Sea to Sky school districts where that had been accomplished in a fairly short time frame.