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Board Meetings
Report


November 18, 2008


EDUCATIONAL ISSUES COMMITTEE
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE BOARD
Tuesday, October 21, 2008



Trustees:
Cindy Aitken (Committee Chair), John Chapman, Rick Galbraith, Marg Gaviller, Jan Johnstone, Ross King, Marilyn McComb, Gail Nadjiwon, Tim Reaburn, Theresa Root and Jennifer Yenssen
Student Senators:
Megan Myles, Riel Warrilow   
Staff:
Jean Stephenson (Co-ordinator), Mary Anne Alton, Alana Murray, Marnie Coke, Richard Gerson, Lori Wilder, and Joan Farrow (Executive Assistant)
  
   
ABA Representative:
Jacqui Traverse-Thomas


INFORMATION:
The Educational Issues Committee received the following reports:
•     The Queen Elizabeth II Aiming for the Top Scholarship
•     TRAIL Program
•     EQAO Data
•     Summer Activities Report

Delegation With Prior Notice
Retired Bluewater Trail teacher Dave Mason and parent Dan Wong from the Walkerton area provided a summary of changes made to the TRAIL program over the past several years.  They expressed concern regarding the loss of two TRAIL teachers in the Bluewater program since 2006, the provision of more indirect versus direct service to students and a reduction in the number of school visits by TRAIL staff from nine visits per year in the past to one school visit per school in 2008/2009.  The delegation felt that these changes have been made by the board without proper consultation involving the teachers, the parents and the students involved.

Celebration – The Queen Elizabeth II Aiming for the Top Scholarship
Alana Murray shared information on this Ontario government scholarship program that rewards students who graduate with top marks at their high school and who plan to continue their studies at an Ontario college or university.  Students who maintain an eighty percent average at the postsecondary level and who apply to OSAP for assistance,  can receive these scholarships which are worth up to a maximum of $3500 per year, for up to four years in total.  One hundred and five Bluewater secondary school students received scholarships in 2007/2008.

Financial support for Bluewater scholars is also provided by the community as approximately $66,000 will be donated by community members, clubs or agencies and distributed to graduating students across all four pathways – workplace, apprenticeship, college and university.

Staff Reports – TRAIL Program
Lori Wilder spoke in response to some of the issues raised by the delegation with prior notice.  Prior to amalgamation, there was no Gifted program in place in Grey County.  Following amalgamation, a combined program was put in place to support students in both Grey and Bruce counties.   This program has been streamlined over time to reflect changes to staffing and program delivery.

Direct service refers to one on one support for gifted students by TRAIL staff.  Indirect service refers to TRAIL staff working with teachers to promote support for the students.  Building teacher capacity is a focus as classroom teachers are being asked to provide support to gifted students in their classes, an approach that more closely aligns with the Education for All beliefs.

Assessment practices are currently being reviewed with regard to identifying students as gifted as a way to address the issue around a higher than average percentage of gifted students in Bluewater.

The Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) is a Bluewater committee that supports identified students.  Its membership includes community, parent and student representation.  In the past, the committee had been attempting to find a representative from the Association of Bright Children to sit on SEAC but no local chapter of the organization existed.  A local organization has been set up and a member will sit on SEAC in the near future and provide an important forum for discussions around program changes.

Lori introduced Meryl Gillmore and Ken Cormack, the current Bluewater TRAIL teachers who provided an overview of the program.  

The TRAIL staff provided input during the program review process and have been working closely with the Program Department regarding differentiated instruction and interdisciplinary planning as it relates to the indirect service plan for the gifted program.  Another important component of the program is the TRAIL website that is used as a communication tool for parents and students as well as First Class Ed, a forum for interactive communication.  The Information Technology Department is working with TRAIL staff to update these tools.  The Adobe Connect software will also be used as a tool of the gifted program for online video conferencing.  These tools will be utilized as part of the new indirect service to grades 4 to 12 that has been added to the program as well as providing excellent communication avenues for teachers, parents and students.

As part of the new approach to identification of gifted students, consultation with classroom teachers and Learning Resource Teachers will occur regarding Individual Education Plans, the IPRC process and the cognitive testing process.  Beginning in the Spring of 2009, formal identification through the IPRC process will not be required to access the TRAIL program, rather a CTCS score of 135 or over will initiate access to the program.  A formal IPRC process will still be available if student need exists, as a result of parental request or as required as part of an existing tuition agreement.

EQAO DATA
Marnie Coke and Alana Murray provided a combined report of EQAO results for 2007/2008.  The EQAO assessments are based on curriculum expectations, are about two hours in length and are made up of multiple choice rather than open response questions.  Although they are only one of many tools used to asses learning in Bluewater, they are the only one we can use to compare Bluewater students with students across the province.  An important focus with regard to the EQAO testing continues to be the existing gap between male and female students in all areas as well as any gaps between Bluewater students and the rest of the province.  Important strategies continue to be focusing on problem solving approaches to teaching mathematics as well as teaching to level four standards in reading and writing.  Cross curricular planning will also continue as an important focus in all subject areas.

Communications – Summer Activities Report:  
This item was deferred to the November meeting.






Submitted to:
Bluewater District School Board
18 November, 2008       
For further information please contact
Cindy Aitken, Chair or
Jean Stephenson, Superintendent of Student Success

        


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