There is a different frame of mind turning at Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) as it regards provincial testing results.
Last month, Alberta Education released the results of the 2015-16 Provincial Achievement Test (PATs) for Grades 6 and 9 along with last year’s diploma exam results, which showed some improvement for Ponoka area schools in both participation and results.
The full results can be found by heading to www.alberta.ca/education and following the link to provincial test results.
Last year, administration at WCPS did not respond to questions on the the results, but a change in the organization has also meant a new direction.
WCPS superintendent Jayson Lovell explained that the results are now the subject of some in-depth analysis both at the district and school levels so that staff can better understand the data and how it needs to be analyzed.
“We want to ensure there is a strong understanding of the results by the board, by our district and by our schools,” he said.
“That’s why we have generated a pair of reports that provide everyone with the background they need and want in order to do that. This has never been done before in this division.”
Those reports take a look at 16 different areas with Lovell adding that WCPS has seen improvement in 10 of those areas when considering the latest results.
“We are proud to see that kind of improvement and especially the positive trend in the increase of the return rate for First Nations Metis Inuit (FNMI) students,” he said.
“As well, this is no question there are areas we still need to work on, but one of the new reports will look at those areas listed as an issue or concern at a particular school. The staff will then look at strategies to target those concerns as part of our commitment to continuous improvement. It’s through these enhanced processes that will hopefully clearly align all levels throughout the division with how we can help students continue to achieve and improve.”
Lovell stated that division-wide, the PATs saw the acceptable rating in all subjects improve by 3.1 per cent while the excellence rating increased by 1.6 per cent.
As for the Grade 12 diploma exam results, Lovell said the number of students writing the English and Math exams is higher than in the past and that Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) principal Ian Rawlinson and his staff are focused on investigating the numbers so they can work on areas of improvement. He added the school is also hoping to get more feedback from parents, through various avenues, to see where they believe work is needed to help improve student outcomes.
One key point Lovell emphasized — and was something Rawlinson believes is a strong positive for PSC — is that the number of students returning to complete their diplomas, either in their fourth or fifth year of high school, rose between 30 and 40 per cent over the last five years at PSC, while the drop-out rate is lower than other schools around the province.
“Around WCPS last year, about 150 students came back for either their fourth or fifth year in order to graduate,” Lovell said.
“It’s a bit of a change in trends, as more students take time off or slow down their course load with being busy doing other things.”
Rawlinson added that PSC students continue to achieve high academic standing in their courses, noting last year that 60 per cent of the high school students — 121 in total — qualified for the prestigious Rutherford scholarships that are awarded to Alberta students.