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Monday, 25 June 2012 16:39

Chinook School Division's new dashboard system a major plus

Written by  Jessi Gowan
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With Chinook School Division's new dashboard system, it is easier than ever for teachers and support staff to monitor the progress of students across the Southwest. The system has been especially beneficial in the areas of Special Education and Student Services.

“The Ministry has worked hard to ensure that we are writing good programs for these kids, but this takes it another step, so that we can see if we are meeting goals,” explained Superintendent Lee Cummins. “Are they meeting them within specific timelines? And to what degree? And if they're not, we can start seeing patterns and know where to put our resources if the goal isn't being met.”

The system enables them to not only view the progress of the students across the division, but also in specific schools and even individual students. Since each learner is focused on their own Personal Program Plan, each is different and faces unique challenges. The dashboard system helps instructors and support staff focus on their individual needs.

“Personal Program Plans are always set up with particular goals, which are very specific, targeted goals in various areas – independence, problem solving, things like that,” Cummins noted. “Some students wouldn't necessarily be in a situation where they can get grades. We do work on regular academics, but it's more goal-driven as opposed to grade-driven.”

Although the Ministry only provides funding for students who meet their criteria, Chinook provides specialized support for nearly 500 students, to ensure that all students have the opportunity to be successfully.

“We do everything possible to meet their needs, and this is just one more response to that,” added Cummins. “It becomes very defined in terms of goals they are looking to achieve. Teachers, parents, everyone is working on the same page. It's a really defined and sound plan, and this gives it thorough purpose in terms of what you are trying to work toward.”

This is the first year that Chinook has been using the system for Student Services, and they are currently collecting base-line data. The Ministry has been very impressed with Chinook's system, noting that there is no comparable system to measure achievement on a Personal Program Plan in any other school division in the province.

“The whole goal at the centre of our work is to improve student learning for all,” Cummins said. “This gives us an opportunity to work with all students, it's inclusive, and it really permits us to use our resources very efficiently and effectively.  I think it also really celebrates the great work that teachers and specialists do in the field, by showing us evidence they are doing well and kids are improving. It truly speaks to the excellence that we have in the field.”

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