Presentation Notes District 42 School Board Meeting, May 25th, 1999
In laying out a pathway into the next millennium for the students of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows - this board is performing its most critical duty to the public that elected us, and the children whose future they entrusted to us. And let there be no mistake, at the dawn of this new era education IS the main determinant of a child's future success and our future success as a community..
Many local staff spent long thoughtful hours preparing the various reports that make up the 2003 recommendations. Let me assure you at the outset: I have asked to be on the agenda this evening not to address what is in the Year 2003 report, but rather what isn't.
Staff have done the job they were asked to do. As a board of trustees, it is my opinion that we have not done our job - and we are two weeks away from final adoption of these recommendations.
For the record: What I am proposing today in public, I have brought to the table many times in the closed door meetings that continue to make up most of our meeting time as a board.
From the time the Superintendent, Mr Denis Therrien, first discussed the need for change back in September, to the present we have not - AS A BOARD - addressed some key issues:
In order for effective, results oriented decision making to occur answers to these questions must be determined in advance! With a process in place it will be clearer to the board, parents, staff and the public why we are implementing change - there will be greater buy-in at all levels and the system will benefit from the support that accompanies such a buy in.
Quote (report from Annenberg Institute for School Reform, Brown University) : "The concept of public engagement is increasingly understood as being essential to improving public schools. One of the most powerful ways that education leaders can engage their many public's is by asking them this question: What would you need to see to believe schools are improving?
Four major factors make focused attention to student achievement critical:
1) Shrinking resources that require us to do more with less - and the attendant need to minimize the need for learning recovery efforts
2) the unprecedented role of education in determining individual, community and national economic prosperity
3) the rate of change in the world and the exponential rise in the minimum skills and knowledge required for effective participation in society
4) Increasing pressures for the use of limited classroom time (a child only spends approximately 10% of his/her time in the classroom in a calendar year).
I propose that we set measurable district targets and develop a system of management at the board and school level that continually assesses progress or lack thereof in key areas - in particular academic achievement. We should develop a clear mandate for what is reported, when and to whom. The focus of comparisons should be positive and proactive: including improvement over time; documentation and sharing of best practices; and support for schools in difficulty.
Such an approach to managing the district would provide information on the performance of students in relation to district and school expectations/standards and trends over time. This information would then take a larger role in informing decision making at all levels of the system. For example: Currently our budget process at the board level involves a generalized overview of dollars required to maintain current services and then a more detailed examination on dollars gained or lost from the ministry. Under the approach that I am suggesting the Board would be presented with a detailed progress report related to our measurable goals along with staff recommendations for improvement towards those goals in the following year - within, of course - the ministry mandated budget.
At the school level - parents and staff would be involved in developing a framework that incorporates district goals but also addresses their unique needs as a school community. This would provide a clear, up front process for pursuing any new school level initiatives such as schools within schools, altered calendars etc.
Would we be jumping into uncharted waters? No, we would not be pioneers in this area. There are many well-established, documented examples and templates for the development of an accountability for results process that we can refer to for guidance. I have brought with me two examples: A school report card from North York (Ontario) and information from last months AERA conference in Montreal outlining a ten step improvement process.
The 2003 report has been referred to as our legacy to the next school board. As a member of the school board of trustees, it is my intention to bring a motion forward at our next meeting that would commit us to developing a clear "made in Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows" Continuous Improvement Accountability Process in time for the turn of the century.
This approach would not only enable us to more effectively implement the Year 2003 recommendation it would also provide a template for the implementation of other recommendations such as the Special Education Review referred to in the 2003 document.
Am I implying that we do not have any of the elements of the direction I am suggesting in place in this district? Absolutely not, I believe we already have many of the building blocks available to construct an excellent COMPREHENSIVE system of accountability for student results. I urge the rest of the board to give serious consideration to my proposal.