Monday, 15 July 2013

Change and Challenge

Today is the date by which BC school districts submit achievement contracts to the Minister of Education. The  School Act requires each BC Board of Education to prepare and submit to the Minister of Education an Achievement Contract with respect to student performance and plans for improving achievement. District Achievement Contracts are a public commitment made by a Board of Education to improve success for each student in the District. 

The contracts seek to ensure that districts are engaged in continuous improvement. Each contract is a three-year plan, updated annually, forming the basis for the annual Superintendent’s Report on Achievement to the Board of Education. Achievement Contracts outline a district’s goals for the improvement of student success, describe strategic actions, and identify how the district monitors progress and makes adjustments to improve results. In a sense the AC is our report card telling us how we we've done, indicating where we need to go next and indicating how we intend to track our progress.

This year the AC has particular significance for me. As part of the district management team for several years, I've had a part in preparing many Achievement Contracts, but this is the first one I've submitted as Superintendent. Like all districts, Peace River North has accomplishments of which it is duly proud and some areas where we have to do better. The purpose of the plan is to track progress against our twin goals of improving student achievement through greater learner engagement and of developing students with strong senses of social responsibility. Celebrating successes is easy. The bigger question is what to do when results are not what we want. How to deal with adversity is the real challenge.

Different models offer some insights. suggests "Three Simple Steps to Dealing with Adversity". Identifying worry, paralysis by analysis and procrastination as progress killers, author Harry Shade puts forward the alternate strategies of evaluate, illuminate and execute as better ways to go. Examine the results, seek creative solutions and then act. Miravia Directors Bruce Wellman and Laura Lipton speak to learning focused educators working with data driven dialogue as part of their improvement model. Part of their model includes an examination of data in a "What, So What? Now What" context so that organizations can see clearly where they are, get a sense of what and why data is important and make decisions about what to do next.

Regardless what model we use, reacting to and dealing with adversity in a timely and effective manner is essential. Our Achievement Contract clearly identifies some challenges for SD 60 to address. We want to improve graduation and achievement rates in key subject areas such as English and Math. We need to continue to find innovative and creative ways to fully engage students and to assist them to reach their potential in ways that are both socially responsible and personally fulfilling. Above all,l we need to instill confidence in our community that its children are getting a quality education and that it is being well served in all education matters.