Spruce Grove Composite
High School (10–12)

Assurance

2016-2017 Assurance Report

Principal: Cheryl Otto
School Council Chair: Ida Roberts

Vision: Parkland School Division is a place where exploration, creativity and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams.

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Background
Inclusive Education
Quality Learning
Culture of Wellness
Universal Leadership
Engagement/Communication
Resource Stewardship

Background

As a member of the Parkland School Division family of schools, Spruce Grove Composite High School utilizes a robust Assurance Model to understand stakeholder feedback better. Working with an Assurance Model means that SGCHS, Parkland School Division and the Board of Trustees actively seek to reveal all avenues for stakeholders to tell us how we are attending to our goals and priorities. One important part of our Assurance Model is deriving stakeholder feedback through insightful comments made by parents, staff, community members and students.

SGCHS continuously gathers feedback from a variety of sources, including students, parents, staff, the school division and the greater community. In addition to surveys, conferences and day-to-day conversations, our school also uses an online assurance process called ThoughtExchange that enables participants to read and rank responses based on three questions:

  • What are some concerns you have about our school this year?
  • What are some things you appreciate about our school this year?
  • What are some other things you would like to say about our school this year?

SGCHS’s Assurance Report captures the strengths, opportunities, aspirations and expected results that we gathered throughout last year. In keeping with an Assurance Model, this report provides the narrative for our achievements and challenges, and is presented on our school website.

Strengths are highlighted as areas that are working well in SGCHS. In our commitment to quality learning, we recognize that there will always be room for growth. We are proud of the strengths and accomplishments you have recognized in the work we do.

Opportunities are areas for growth or attention. As a school, we recognize these as areas in which we need to focus more attention, and we see that these areas are also important to you.

Aspirations are presented as priorities for a preferred future. Our stakeholders have shared a vision for where we need to go and what our world will look like when we’ve mastered our strengths and eliminated areas in need of growth.

Results capture expectations for measuring success. In other words, how will we know that we know we are successful?

In 2015-2016, Parkland School Division’s Board of Trustees approved an ambitious Education Plan that was generated through the Assurance Model. The Plan established enduring strategic processes (enduring priorities) that will always be considered in the generation of strategies (forward-thinking actionable plans). These strategies enable us to achieve our outcomes (goals).

Parkland School Division’s Ultimate Goal is Student Success and Well-Being. Students will be encouraged to explore, create, imagine and engage in lifelong learning as they develop competencies that prepare them to enter the world of post-secondary studies or work. The Division believes that student success is closely linked to student well-being and the development of social-emotional assets that build resiliency, and is therefore committed to the development of the whole child at all levels of their education. The goals, outcomes, priorities and strategies identified in the Education Plan are focused on the achievement of the Ultimate Goal: Student Success and Well-Being.

Two enduring priorities continue to guide the work of the Division. These priorities are considered to be enduring since they are necessary priorities to consider in establishing any goal:

The Enduring Priority of Engagement: Engaging all stakeholders: students, staff, and the local and global communities. Goals and strategies must include a consideration of how they will be shared and supported by all stakeholder groups.

The Enduring Priority of Resource Stewardship: Ensuring equitable and sustainable use of our resources and ensuring financial responsibility. Goals and strategies must include a consideration of how they will utilize limited resources with maximum results.

In addition to the enduring priorities listed above, the 2015-2018 Three Year Education Plan includes the goals necessary to achieve student success and well-being:

Inclusive Education: Parkland School Division is an inclusive education system. An inclusive education system is one that demonstrates behaviours and decisions that reflect valuing all students. The Division is committed to achieving this goal and to fulfilling the provincial mandate for inclusion.

In Parkland School Division, everyone is accepted and experiences a sense of belonging. Every student - no matter their ability, disability, language, cultural background, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity - has meaningful contributions to make.

Using the programs of study as the framework for learning, every student is engaged in meaningful and authentic ways. All students are treated equitably: they get the support needed when they need it, and for the intensity and duration of time for which they need it.

Quality Learning: Student success and well-being depends on quality instruction in an atmosphere that respects each learner’s independent spirit. Quality teaching practices promote the development of innovation and creativity while attending to meaningful assessment and reporting practices.

Quality Learning builds on the Division’s Inclusive Education goal in that all students are connected to the Programs of Study and all students have the supports and educational quality necessary to achieve success.

Culture of Wellness: Parkland School Division is committed to Student Success and Well-Being. The Division recognizes that, as a system, well-being must be present for all stakeholders, and therefore it is committed to fostering physical literacy, lifelong health and well-being at all levels. The Division believes that student success is closely linked to student well-being and the development of social-emotional assets that build resiliency.

The development of citizenship and social responsibility contribute to wellness and are integral to the delivery of a broad and comprehensive program of studies. We are dedicated to the development of the whole child.

Universal Leadership: Student success and well-being requires collaborative, universal leadership that employs calculated risk-taking and a determination to consider and implement new and innovative ideas. The Division’s Board of Trustees continues to embrace the direction set by Alberta Education to adopt a Generative Governance Model that demands public confidence in all facets of the system. The Division’s clear strategic direction will be maintained, administered and reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure true stewardship of resources.

As a learning organization, the Division recognizes continued improvement through a commitment to leadership at all levels.

Process

Getting feedback is important to us here at SGCHS. By examining information gathered through formal processes such as the Accountability Pillar, Tell Them From Me Survey and ThoughtExchange Questionnaires as well as feedback gleaned through less formal means such as conversations with students and parents, we can process where we are at from the perspective of our stakeholders and where we need to go to fulfill their and our own expectations when it comes to the goals we have created for ourselves. The ability to check whether or not we are meeting the target helps to keep us focused on that very target.

Because this is a living document, it is important that we constantly reflect on what it is we need to be doing and how we are doing it in order to meet our improvement goals.


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Inclusive Education

Strengths

I think it’s a great idea to allow kids to go where they need assistance.

- SGCHS Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

Inclusive Education means making the most of the learning for all of our students.

The data collected through ThoughtExchange demonstrates that parents recognize the flexibility and support our seminar and personal learning time gives their children. Both the Accountability Pillar and the Tell Them From Me survey reinforces this value, as our students have more positive homework behaviours than the Canadian norm.

Our students miss or skip school less often than most schools. We have a significantly lower truancy rate (15%) than the national average.

Our students, parents and staff all appreciate student choice and voice in determining where to spend their flexible learning time. By allowing for student input, we are helping our students to recognize their areas of strength and areas where they need improvement; they then, in turn, access the needed supports during regularly scheduled times in order to make the most of their education. 

Opportunities

Seminar Time training for new Grade 10 students has traditionally been a bit of a challenge.

At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, we introduced mandatory seminar for Grade 10s. Students rotated through their courses daily in order to review key concepts. After approximately one month, these students were encouraged to pursue seminar in the regular way - individual program selection.

Upon reflection, the staff agreed that this wasn’t the ideal way to get students to be excited about choice and voice, as many of these students instead saw Seminar as another class where more work was required.

Aspirations

This year, we have taken the inclusion of Seminar in a different direction. While the first month of Seminar remains mandatory for our Grade 10s, our focus within the subjects has shifted: students are learning to be self-reflective, and the overt teaching of transferable tools for learning is set out by each individual department.

In the spring and fall, staff have done their own reflective learning. We worked with experts on metacognition (knowledge about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem-solving) and cross-curricular competencies, and decided these were clear tools to help us help our students achieve a sense of independence with their learning. Each individual department chose a competency which spoke most to their subject matter and created supports for students to help them discover and analyze their preferred learning method. Students were required to reflect on how they learn best by using the work from the classes they were taking, instead of new, stand-alone work. After a month, students were again given the choice of where to go to best serve themselves during scheduled seminar time.

We may choose to revisit mandatory Seminar prior to Christmas Break, as there is very little time for review after the holidays, and we want to encourage our students to make the most of their review time and learning.

As well, we are very pleased to be reintroducing the PLACE (Practical Living and Community Education) and LAWS (Life Academic Working Skills) programs to our buildings.

Results

What are we hoping to achieve? Ultimately, we want to have all our students engaged and in charge of their learning. We want to see that our flexible learning environment has served them well in achieving this goal.

Successful students will internalize the cross-curricular competencies and become successful adults. We want them to be able to take on any challenge at school, at work or in life and be able to think critically, problem-solve, collaborate, be creative and innovative, and manage relevant information as they become contributing cultural and global citizens who focus on their individual personal growth and well-being.

How will we know if they get there? Our data will be reflective of this; our various surveys, including ThoughtExchange and the Accountability Pillar, will continue to reflect the positive behaviours of our students towards their ownership of their learning.
 

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Quality Learning

Strengths

It is delightful to have teachers who care about their core subjects and pass this passion on to their students.

- SGCHS Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

Our staff love what they do - and this is evident in our data.

Our Accountability Pillar, Tell Them From Me (TTFM) and ThoughtExchange survey results reinforce that our teachers, parents and students are satisfied with the quality of education provided at SGCHS.

The work students are expected to do challenges and interests them appropriately, and the teachers provide support necessary for these challenges to be met.

Our students tell us that they know what is required of them and that they are engaged in the relevant learning. They feel their teachers are advocates for them and their learning.

We are above the Canadian average for both the Effective Learning Time and Relevance measures on the TTFM survey.

Opportunities

As stated previously, we see the need to connect students to the importance of their choice, and ensure they have a voice in their education. With this acknowledgement comes a recognition that we need to reflect on not only our students’ practices, but our own as well.

In engaging our students, we need to examine what we are doing well (e.g. building staff/student relationships) and what we need to work on  (e.g. scaffolding critical thinking and metacognition into our lesson delivery in order to aid our students in becoming more independent, life-long learners).

Aspirations

Many of our teachers have attended at least one session with Sandra Herbst in the last two years. We also have 13 who will be attending her sessions with the Division this year, as we recognize the value professional development on the subject of cross-curricular competencies has on classroom practice.

In addition, seven staff members will be learning from Shelley Moore, with the goal of improving our understanding of how best to serve all our students through inclusion. This professional development will not only assist with Quality Learning at SGCHS, but also with Inclusive Education.

Results

As our teachers become more able to integrate their professional learning (acquired both independently and through their Teacher Collaborative Time (TCT)) into their practice, we should continue to see improved survey results in the areas of student interest and engagement and quality learning. 


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Culture of Wellness

Strengths

The teachers that take the time to get to know the students. This kind of connection is extremely valuable for confidence and education. Thank you.

- SGCHS Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

The care and attention our teachers invest in our students is recognized by our stakeholders, as our TTFM survey results report we have more advocacy at school and more positive teacher-student relations than the Canadian average. 

Opportunities

When it comes to Wellness, areas of concern in the Accountability Pillar survey results are replicated in both the Tell Them From Me and the ThoughtExchange data.

We’ve chosen to examine both our Safe and Caring and our Citizenship measures. Our students are reporting lower self-esteem, more bullying, and higher anxiety and depression than the Canadian norm. We find this concerning, as these are all factors that can inhibit student learning.

Aspirations

To date, over half of our staff has received Mental Health First Aid training to compliment the Mental Health Awareness professional learning the whole staff received last year. In addition, we are working with our new School Resource Officer and surveying our students about bullying and harassment specifically, as the aforementioned data indicates our students are impacted by this behaviour more often than the national average.

We have accessed the Equine-Assisted Learning program to help some of our students gain confidence and self-esteem. We are continuing to host Club Fridays to encourage a sense of belonging among all our students. We recognize that students who feel secure in their sense of well-being experience better learning.

Results

It is our hope, of course, that we can lower the percentages of our students who experience depression and/or anxiety; however, we recognize that this may not be possible. Instead, by having many of our staff trained in Mental Health First Aid and the whole staff trained in Mental Health Awareness, we hope to establish a better system of support for those students who need it.

In addition, our work to uproot the bullying and bystander behaviour in our school will empower students to take a stand against these acts. Our data should reflect that our school is safe and caring and that our students are responsible citizens. 


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Universal Leadership

Strengths

Excellent coaches for sports teams: mentorship and leadership.

- SGCHS Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

Extracurricular options/clubs: there are more than just sports clubs available, this is nice.

- SGCHS Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

Leadership can take many forms. Here at SGCHS, we believe that everyone is a leader, first and foremost, in their learning. As we discussed previously, our flexible learning time allows students to be the leaders of their own learning through their choice and voice during Seminar and Personal Learning Time.

We also provide many opportunities for our entire school community to explore various leadership roles. These opportunites may take the form of students joining clubs, like a book club or the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), or staff members volunteering to facilitate these clubs. It may mean a student leading the basketball team as their captain, or a staff member choosing to offer some mindfulness practice to colleagues.

We are fortunate that so many members of our community have much to offer in the form of both extrinsic and intrinsic leadership.

Opportunities

As always, we need to be mindful in how to bring out the leader in all members of our school community. While there are many, many opportunities at SGCHS, we need to be open to alternate suggestions coming from our students and staff in order to ensure that we continue to grow.

Aspirations

Our motto at Spruce Grove Composite High School is to Build Excellence and Success Together. We aspire to be a place where all members feel motivated and empowered to make the best contribution they can. Universal leadership development of staff and students will allow us to improve the best of all of us.

Over the course of this year, we will establish a focus group who will aid in demonstrating what roles our students want to play as leaders within our building. 

Results

By monitoring the data we collect, both formally and informally, we will be able to monitor the growth in universal leadership roles taken on by staff and students. As these roles become more embedded in the culture of SGCHS, they will reinforce the sense of belonging and connections we are working to build.

One direct improvement we hope to see is an increase in the Accountability Pillar’s rating of our students’ levels of citizenship, as they begin to transfer skills and knowledge they are acquiring as leaders here in our building into their lives outside of high school.


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Engagement/Communication

Strengths

Good communication via PowerSchool. This is a good tool.

- SGCHS Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

Our ThoughtExchange data has informed us that our parent community appreciates communications they receive from staff via PowerSchool, School Connects (our automated callout system), email, telephone calls and our website. Our teachers also see the value in Parent/Teacher Interviews, with the majority choosing to continue with the regular interview process rather than pursuing a modified version. 

Opportunities

Course Marks/Comments Alert Should Be Automatic. Used PowerSchool for two sons over 4 years. Just discovered that I can set up account to automatically send my email address marks/comments on a regular schedule. How did I miss that? How many other parents are like me, trying to remember to look, missing released marks/comments on a timely basis?

- SGCHS Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

Both ThoughtExchange and the Accountability Pillar’s data indicate that our parents want more involvement. As there were only 31 parents (compared to 39 in the previous year) who responded to the Accountability Pillar survey, it is hard to determine if this data is a true reflection of the majority of our parent community.

We did see improvement from the previous year (69.3% up to 80.8%) in the number of parents who are satisfied with their level of involvement in decisions about their child’s education.

Aspirations

Ultimately, we would like to see 100% participation by parents in the PowerSchool Portal. Currently, 88% of parents are accessing their child’s PowerSchool data through the mobile app, 70% are accessing it via computer and 61% are accessing it through emailed progress reports.

We need to continue to target parents so that these numbers go up and parents feel they are more connected to their child’s learning progress.

Results

Our PowerSchool report should indicate an increase in portal use, as it has this past year. As well, data collected through ThoughtExchange and the Accountability Pillar should demonstrate an increase in the percentage of parents who are satisfied with their level of involvement in decisions about their child’s education.

We will continue to explore options to try to increase the number of parents from whom we can gather relevant data, as we would like a more realistic and accurate portrayal of our parent community.


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Resource Stewardship

Strengths

I appreciate that the school has a lot of options and programs. This helps the students to get exposure to different things.

- SGCHS Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

We have always strived to deliver a range of programs to satisfy and equal our students’ range of interests. We offer multiple second language classes, a variety of fine arts programs, almost all the CTS strands, work experience opportunities as well as regular academic programs. We have many clubs, teams and events, which give all students an opportunity to contribute to and be a part of SGCHS.

Opportunities

The school is old and needs to be a main focus of upgrading.

- SGCHS Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

During the 2016-2017 school year, we did experience some glitches with our rooftop heating units, which caused some complications with our heating system. As well, some of our spaces were starting to look a little worse for wear, and we were in need of more washroom space, especially during weekend tournaments, when our upper floors and student lounge were not available to use.

The data collected through ThoughtExchange tells us there is a strong belief among stakeholders that our school is overcrowded. The actual statistics did not support this belief. Last year, our student population peaked at 1,136 in September; currently, it sits at 960, while capacity is 1,260.

While parts of SGCHS are certainly showing their age, we are currently working with the Division’s Facilities Department to refresh our school. We initiated our renovation process this summer by having interested staff come together to discuss what to do with our space to make it feel more safe and caring.

Aspirations

We have been very fortunate this year: we not only acquired several new rooftop units to fix our heating issues, but also reaped the benefits of the Division’s Facilities Department’s initiative to create an outdoor common area complete with pergola and landscaping, which gave the north side of our building as great an appearance as the front.

Facilities also relocated our Early Childhood Services program in order to create some beautiful new washroom spaces on our main floor. This relocation also meant a refurbishment of a storage area, which was converted into our warm and inviting InReach Department, now renamed as the Academic Achievement Centre. In addition, our second and third floor hallways all received new flooring.

Continuing these renovations, we are hopeful we can retrofit another space to get a Cosmetology Program up and running once again. All of these renovations are being completed in keeping with future modification plans , though we acknowledge these plans will likely not be implemented for the next 10 to 15 years. 

Results

Again, we are looking to see positive changes in our data, especially that collected through ThoughtExchange, as this is where we saw the most evidence of concern for the state of our building. Instead of hearing that our building is past its prime, we hope to renew a sense of pride in its appearance and maintain interest and support for the variety of programs we are able to offer in our mid-sized Alberta High School. 


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Wellness Focus

Excellent transitional planning. Our family really appreciates how the SGCHS staff have worked to transition the children from middle school to high school. Our daughter has made the transition seamlessly and is really enjoying her time at SGCHS.

- SGCHS Parent via ThoughtExchange
 

As a staff, we are still concerned about the high levels of depression and anxiety experienced by our students. We know that the transition to high school can be difficult, so we have done our best to alleviate the stresses it can cause.

For several years, we have maintained a staggered start to the school year, with Grade 10s attending their first day at SGCHS without Grade 11s or 12s present. This year, we’ve taken it a step further, having the Grade 10s participate in team-building games that encouraged them to engage with peers they know from their own feeder school, as well as new peers coming from other feeder schools. The entire staff was involved in various ways, from leading a group between the various activities to hosting the activities themselves. We were supported by key members of our student body through the Students’ Union. The intent was to expose the Grade 10s to as many positive people and experiences as possible in a very short time, so they would feel welcome and could share in our Panther Pride. The feedback we received from students, parents and staff was positive.

Of course, these kinds of initiatives do not guarantee that our students won’t experience anxiety or depression, but it is our hope that through them we are able to convey to our students that SGCHS is filled with adults who care about their well-being.

As we continue our professional learning regarding our students’ well-being, over half our staff now have Mental Health First Aid training, and all our administration has VTRA Training Level One. We also have two Health Champions advocating for healthy choices for our students.

Our Health Champions are working hard to remind us that it is not solely our students’ wellness that we need to keep in mind. In fact, they are now starting all Teacher Collaborative Time days for interested staff with either a mindfulness session or physical workout. Our October professional development day also incorporated opportunities for staff to focus on their personal wellness.

Personal wellness is important to us all. Being able to have a balance between life and learning makes for better learning for us all. 


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