It’s been a while since the Lloydminster Catholic School Division (LCSD) started its initiative to put more focus on bettering teaching methods within the district. Six years, in fact, says Doug Robertson, director of education with the LCSD. And with every school year that’s passed since then, teacher and student growth alike has continued to incline.
The system that has ensured this growth, said Robertson, is dubbed “curriculum mapping,” and it’s a professional development plan that puts a focus on teacher learning, so that instructors’ methods of teaching continue to evolve year by year, resulting in more comprehensive skills in literacy and numeracy for children all across the map.
“It’s constantly evolving,” said Robinson, of the curriculum mapping system, and then, of the LCSD’s teachers, “It’s rather remarkable in terms of, if we look year over year, changes–how they just continue to get sharper and sharper, in terms of just the clarity, the focus, on doing fewer things but way better. And that has an influence on how kids learn in classrooms.”
The reason for this increase in teaching efficacy is a constant monitoring and evaluation of teaching methods used. Year to year, methods are tweaked to become tighter while the results of students learning continue to be defined at all grade levels.
Because the program being introduced well before the Education Sector Strategic Plan (ESSP), the goals laid out by the province have already been far surpassed, said Robertson, however, the LCSD doesn’t plan on stopping there.
“We are trying to get better from an internal perspective, since we have essentially exceeded all the 2020 goals already,” said Robertson. “Simply because we started this emphasis six years ago. So, obviously with that kind of focus over that kind of time, you might expect instructional practice and learning to have evolved and it certainly has.”
The division is now riding on the momentum of this ever-changing curriculum mapping, with the goal of continuing to shape the system for the better far into the future.
“It’s not that we’re satisfied where it is,” said Robertson. “Now, we’re getting more and more confident in our procedures, and even more confident in our structures to get even better.”
The 2013/14 year highlights continued to reflect the values put forth by the curriculum mapping strategy.
“We really hone in as we refine practice,” said Robertson, but as with most educational practices, initiative is best taken at an early age.
With the city-wide full-time kindergarten program entering its second year, the LCSD has been able to support young children and ensure that they are not only ready for school, but that they are achieving ESSP standards by Grade 3, said Robertson. The Kindergarten Plus program was also introduced, which takes some focus away from play in favour of addressing numeracy and literacy.
As for École St. Thomas, the LCSD’s French immersion school, it is expected to grow into the future. The school moved into a new building August of 2013, which is expected to sustain space for a growing student body over the next three years.
“This is beautiful to say, because we haven’t had the opportunity to say this for a long, long time, like eight years” said Robertson. “But we don’t have any overcrowding in French immersion programming, so it’s marvellous that we were able to open up École St. Thomas on time last August.”
Of the future, Robertson could not comment on changes to the curriculum mapping program, but is confident that it will continue to evolve for the better.
“When we’re in the low 90s as a graduation rate, with the province in the low 70s, we’re doing well,” said Robertson. “But we think our early childhood initiative, starting with pre-K, and having kids read at grade level by Grade 3 is having an impact on our graduation rates.”