A unique public engagement process has come full circle and will soon yield some action by Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS).
The WCPS board of the trustees reviewed the final results of the Thoughexchange survey — an online survey with a focus on soliciting ideas and concerns then getting respondents to rate those — at its meeting Jan. 19 with everyone pleased with how well the first run through with the B.C.-based company went.
“I was really impressed with how many people took part,” said WCPS board chair Lorrie Jess, who also liked how the survey was able to dig more in depth into the issues that are relevant to students, parents and staff.
“The board got great feedback on concerns and the things people feel we are doing very well. What I also liked was how we can look at the thoughts and ideas for each specific school.”
Overall, there were 2,054 participants that contributed 4,942 thoughts to the three questions posed in the initial stage of the survey. In the second stage, those thoughts were whittled down into specific categories where participants were asked to rate the ideas from zero to five ‘stars’. A total of 137,644 stars were assigned with the top thoughts presented to trustees in the third stage of the process.
Out of the total number of participants, the vast majority — 1,486 — identified themselves as parents or guardians with another 400 classifying themselves as staff and 153 identified as support or non-certified staff.
Ecole Secondaire Lacombe Composite saw the most participation at 194, followed by James S. McCormick in Lacombe at 175 and Blackfalds Iron Ridge Elementary Campus at 173.
Ponoka Secondary Campus was the highest out of the local area schools, at 128, with Ponoka Elementary School at 122. Crestomere had 44 respond, while Mecca Glen saw 39 take part and Ponoka Outreach with 24.
On the question of what WCPS can improve on, the need for smaller classes in all grade levels was number one on the list, citing teachers would be able to spend more time and attention with students. Additional student supports, along with focusing on life skills, providing better arts and music education and better list of options for Grades 7 to 12 were the rest of the top five.
All of the top five results about what WCPS has done there best received more than 100 stars. The top thought was also about class size — noting an instance where new classrooms were added — enabling some overcrowded classes to be split into smaller ones. The other thoughts were regarding better student-to-teacher relationships and student-to-student interactions as well as student recognition and more support being given to students because of smaller class sizes.
The final question about having something available at the school that currently isn’t being provided saw the top thought focusing on literacy. It was suggested that daily and intensive work be done for all students to help improve their reading skills, followed closely by thoughts regarding smaller class sizes. The rest of the top five thoughts sought more options be made available for junior high students, not being afraid to have students experience failure and providing more challenging work to students that are excelling in the present curriculum.
With the board having provided some direction on what to do with the results, WCPS superintendent Jayson Lovell will now begin meeting with individual principals to go over the school specific results and determine how best to address the board’s directives at the school level.
“What that will mean is looking into areas where the school can focus in on. As well, the results are also a celebration and validates what our school division has been doing,” Lovell said.
“I’m extremely pleased at the depth of the thoughts from the participants and WCPS appreciates the time everyone took to participate.”