The Chinook School Division was featured at the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA) Spring Assembly in Regina this week. Chinook personnel presented information on the Balanced Literacy Initiative, Levelled Literacy Intervention and the leadership of the provincial team with the "Saskatchewan Reads" initiative. Introduced by Chinook Acting Board Chair Larry Caswell, the presenter's from Chinook included: Director of Education Liam Choo-Foo (Saskatchewan Reads), Superintendent of Learning Bob Vavra (Balanced Literacy) and Curriculum Coordinator Kathy Robson (Levelled Literacy Intervention).
The Balanced Literacy initiative has had an incredible impact on the success of students in Chinook School Division. At the end of year three of the maintenance phase, overall 83% of students were meeting or exceeding expectations, indicating a 20% improvement since the Balanced Literacy initiative was introduced in 2008. The Board has identified a new goal of 90% success by June 2017.
Levelled Literacy Intervention (LLI) is an intense, short-term reading intervention designed to provide assistance for struggling readers. In 2013-2014, 94% of students who completed LLI successfully reached their grade level expectation. The Chinook Board of Education was recently a recipient of the “Premier’s Board of Education Award for Innovation and Excellence in Education” for the LLI program. LLI is currently in all schools for students in grade 1 and 2 and is being expanded to include upper elementary.
The motivation to create Saskatchewan Reads came from the need to improve student reading in the province, as outlined in the Premier’s vision document, Saskatchewan Plan for Growth: Vision 2020 and Beyond. In alignment with this, the reading hoshin was developed as part of the Education Sector Strategic Plan. In 2014, Chinook Director of Education Liam Choo-Foo was tasked with developing a resource of high impact reading, instructional strategies, assessments and interventions. and in May 2014 a Provincial Reading Team (PRT) was formed, including 19 people representing 11 school divisions, two First Nation authorities, one Métis Nation representative, and four Ministry of Education personnel. The PRT brought a rich and diverse background of practical experience and expertise to the table and produced a valuable companion document to the English Language Arts Grades 1, 2, and 3 curricula. It was created based on sound research, specifically in reading, focusing on instructional approaches, assessment and intervention.