One-third of all Grade 3 students at eight Abbotsford schools are not meeting literacy expectations, including five schools with half or more Grade 3 students not meeting those expectations and two at 40 per cent or fewer.
Meanwhile, 80 per cent or more students are meeting literary expectations at 16 schools, including two with 90 per cent or more students meeting expectations.
That’s according to an update to the early learning strategic plan presented to the school board at a recent public meeting. The names of the schools not meeting expectations were not included in the report.
“In Abbotsford, we have some very successful families, children, schools in their reading. And then we have some of our schools that need more support, and so we’re targeting those schools,” said Carla Danielsson, assistant superintendent.
“Much like in schools, where we have students who are doing well and students who are excelling, we have groups who are struggling. So with our schools, we have groups who have cohorts of students who are not yet meeting their full potential.”
Most or all of the schools struggling to meet that potential have greater needs funding, Danielsson said, and are being targeted first.
— ᵈᵘˢᵗⁱⁿ ᵍᵒᵈᶠʳᵉʸ (@dustinrgodfrey) November 14, 2018
“Making sure they have resources that are adequate for the teachers. And we also have a teacher that’s going in – a literacy support teacher; it’s a new role in our system this year – who’s going in to work with the classroom teachers to partner and deliver some supports to the classroom teachers and best practice,” Danielsson said, adding that the struggling schools would also have support groups.
“So we’re really looking at our system, as well as looking at individual children.”
Some of the ways the school district is targeting those schools, Danielsson said, is through collaboration, engagement, personalization and greater support for both teachers and children.
“This year we worked with our learning services staff and our staff at the learning and assessment centre to design instruction that’s based in the school, versus than based in some place that children need to take a bus to, and then a bus home from, where they have two classes for children who are vulnerable and having difficulty,” Danielsson said.
“So we’ve looked at pushing in that support to children in schools.”
Danielsson also commended the work of “an amazing network” involving Maria Limpright, a helping teacher, and Donna Wright, the district principal in early learning, working with teachers throughout the district.
“They pull the group together, they do some learning together and they pull the expertise that are in the schools focused around the students’ particular challenges,” Danielsson said, noting that the network had seen some successes.
Danielsson said there’s “a whole bunch of things we can try” to improve early education outcomes, but pointed to a few key areas she said would have the greatest effect.
That included giving teachers an opportunity to collaborate with each other; involving students in their own assessment and setting a couple of learning goals; ensuring teachers are educated on research; and for teachers to be able to personalize learning for each student, rather than teaching for the whole class all the time.
“Those are the things that… tell us will have the effect size. So if I were making an investment, I would invest in those things.”