SRSB moving forward on Auditor-General’s recommendations

PORT HAWKESBURY: As part of his report to the latest regular monthly meeting of the Strait regional school board (SRSB), the board’s superintendent of schools provided an update on the SRSB’s latest responses to directives from Nova Scotia’s Auditor-General.

Ford Rice outlined two of the six recommendations presented to the board by Auditor-General Michael Pickup, whose office conducted a governance and performance review of the SRSB, the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board (CCRSB) and Halifax Regional School Board (HRSB) two years ago as mandated by the Nova Scotia Action Plan for Education, which was released by Education Minister Karen Casey in early 2015.

The two recommendations Rice addressed in his report direct management at the SRSB and CCRSB to require annual reporting to include data sufficient to identify how schools are progressing against goals, and to ensure sufficient data is collected to assess student progress in both numeracy and literacy.

To that end, Rice noted that the SRSB’s principals have received a presentation from the board’s coordinator of student success planning regarding the Provincial Framework and Provincial Student Success Planning templates, which require schools to report on data from provincial, SRSB and school-based assessment over a three-year period. All SRSB schools are currently using this template, and all schools once again implemented a literacy and numeracy goal in their Student Success Plans for 2016-17, with assessment results incorporated into these plans this past fall.

As well, board members each received a copy of the 2015-16 Student Success Plan Annual Report for each school under the SRSB’s jurisdiction, and this coming November they will receive a presentation from the coordinator of student success planning with regards to an audit of individual Student Success Plans for 2016-17, the superintendent added.

Further to these issues, the board received its first annual assessment calendar including SRSB and provincial assessments, along with reporting timelines, just over a year ago. Board members then received a presentation on Early Literacy from the SRSB’s director of programs and student services and the board’s Reading Recovery Teacher Leader.

This past January, the board received an in-depth analysis of the SRSB provincial literacy and mathematics assessment data, with a summary of this data for all Nova Scotia school boards presented to SRSB members the following month. Further updates on these figures followed in June, and this month the board received its annual assessment calendar for the upcoming academic year, along with reporting timelines.

“This board has been diligent in terms of working with the [Auditor-General’s] recommendations,” Rice declared.

In September, the SRSB will seek approval from the provincially-appointed Council to Improve Classroom Conditions (CICC) to resume provincial assessments related to numeracy and literacy, which were suspended last November as a result of the job action taken by members of the Nova Scotia Teachers’ Union (NSTU).

Rice also promised to provide additional updates on the SRSB’s efforts to follow the Auditor-General’s directives during future SRSB public meetings.