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Superintendent's Notebook - September 2014

OUR COMMITMENT TO STUDENTS

It’s the start of a new school year and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome back almost 90,000 students. We’re ready to help them do their best and make the most of the opportunities that will come their way. Our goal is clear – we’re here to ensure every student has access to an excellent teacher and a high quality learning environment.

As I think about the upcoming school year, I can see how committed we are to this goal. A few weeks ago, we introduced the Math Intervention/Programming Instrument – a new tool we’re using with Grade 2 to 9 students to assess their math skills from their previous grade. This tool will help us put the right programming and supports together to help kids be successful. Later this fall, I’ll be unveiling our District’s new K-12 Career Pathways Model, which is all about helping students find a career that gives them dignity and fulfillment in life. The model will focus on offering students meaningful opportunities to explore different career options and leave school with a clear plan for the workplace or their start in post-secondary education. As well, we will continue to have conversations with the Province, parents and communities to meet our challenges around space in Edmonton’s growing and mature neighbourhoods.

We’re also starting the year off with the new Standards for Evaluation. These standards clearly lay out how we assess and evaluate what students learn. We built them through more than a year of consultation and collaboration with parents, teachers, principals and administrative staff.

In every school, we now have common standards for evaluation and a common way of talking about assessment. All principals, working with their teachers, will follow the same expectations and rules and use a consistent approach to deal with missing or incomplete student work.

A vital part of this approach is having a plan in place when a student doesn’t complete an assignment, test or project. When this happens, teachers will work with that student and their parents to find out what the challenges are and solve them together.

We have dedicated teachers who are already doing this work every day. They demonstrate an amazing commitment to connect with kids and collaborate with parents. They don’t give up on students. They persevere and explore what supports they need to be successful. This is their core work, and they meet and exceed the expectations attached to this work with incredible skill.

At the heart of their efforts – and these new standards – is our goal of holding kids accountable. We want them to take responsibility for their learning. We have high standards for our students and deeply value working with parents to help their children have the best educational journey possible. To us, parents are their child’s first and most important teachers and play a critical role in supporting the learning process. Let’s never forget we’re partners in this journey.

If you’re a parent, be sure to view your school’s assessment plan on their website and on SchoolZone. In it, you’ll find helpful information on how to stay involved in your child’s education.

The truth is kids don’t always come to us full of grit and determination. We have to work with them to bring that out, and to help them see that they have it in them if they just reach for it.

I’m confident we’re in a stronger position than ever to support student success. I’m excited for what’s to come and look forward to working with everyone in the District – our staff, students, parents and community partners – to help kids realize their full potential and truly flourish.