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OPA Sharing Promising Practices Conference The Northwest Catholic District School Board OPA Assessment Project “Improving Student Achievement through Timely.

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Presentation on theme: "OPA Sharing Promising Practices Conference The Northwest Catholic District School Board OPA Assessment Project “Improving Student Achievement through Timely."— Presentation transcript:

1 OPA Sharing Promising Practices Conference The Northwest Catholic District School Board OPA Assessment Project “Improving Student Achievement through Timely Access to Psycho-Educational Assessments”

2 Project Team Members Presenters Shelly Durance, Special Education Coordinator Al Cesiunas, Superintendent of Education Additional Board Team Members Joanne Querel, Principal/Assistant to the Director for School Effectiveness Carla Harris, SERT/Classroom Teacher

3 The Northwest Catholic District School Board The Northwest Catholic District School Board (TNCDSB) is a small elementary Board in Northwestern Ontario with a student population of 1,327. The geographic region that the Board covers is 10,000 square km. Due to the geographic circumstances and the location of all the schools of the Board, significant challenges are faced when attempting to meet the assessment needs of students and capacity- building within Board staff.The Northwest Catholic District School Board (TNCDSB) is a small elementary Board in Northwestern Ontario with a student population of 1,327. The geographic region that the Board covers is 10,000 square km. Due to the geographic circumstances and the location of all the schools of the Board, significant challenges are faced when attempting to meet the assessment needs of students and capacity- building within Board staff.

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5 Video Clip of Northwestern Ontario

6 Board Assessment Challenges Beyond the challenges presented by geography, the Board Assessment Project Team examined the realities of current practices around assessment and the system-wide policies and directions. The results indicated that the existing Assessment and Evaluation Procedures were outdated and the implementation of pre-referral practices was inconsistent and lacking clear direction through system policies.Beyond the challenges presented by geography, the Board Assessment Project Team examined the realities of current practices around assessment and the system-wide policies and directions. The results indicated that the existing Assessment and Evaluation Procedures were outdated and the implementation of pre-referral practices was inconsistent and lacking clear direction through system policies. A lack of professional staff to conduct assessments had resulted in longer waits times and lists for student of the Board which inhibited the progress of the In-School Resource Team (Principal, SERT, and Classroom Teacher) to implement additional programming modifications to meet the learning needs of students at-risk. Finally, the psycho-educational reports were not in a user-friendly format for teachers and parents. A lack of professional staff to conduct assessments had resulted in longer waits times and lists for student of the Board which inhibited the progress of the In-School Resource Team (Principal, SERT, and Classroom Teacher) to implement additional programming modifications to meet the learning needs of students at-risk. Finally, the psycho-educational reports were not in a user-friendly format for teachers and parents.

7 Promising Practices Addressed 1. Pre-Referral & Assessment Procedures A Board Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting Committee was convened to review and develop a system Procedure. Pre- referral processes and interventions were formalized to include the following steps:A Board Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting Committee was convened to review and develop a system Procedure. Pre- referral processes and interventions were formalized to include the following steps: The classroom teacher completes in-class observations and assessments along with an Individual Learning Profile prior to being referred to the school-based teamThe classroom teacher completes in-class observations and assessments along with an Individual Learning Profile prior to being referred to the school-based team The teacher then contacts the student’s parents/guardians to advise that a referral has been forwarded to the Special Education Resource Team (Principal or SERT as chair, in consultation with the classroom teacher)The teacher then contacts the student’s parents/guardians to advise that a referral has been forwarded to the Special Education Resource Team (Principal or SERT as chair, in consultation with the classroom teacher)

8 Special Education Resource Teacher (SERT) sends home a School Consent form for an Educational AssessmentSpecial Education Resource Teacher (SERT) sends home a School Consent form for an Educational Assessment Once the assessment is complete, the referring teacher and parents receive results & recommendations in the form of a written reportOnce the assessment is complete, the referring teacher and parents receive results & recommendations in the form of a written report If, after the in-school assessment and application of recommendations, the student continues to experience difficulties with academics and/or behaviour, a case conference is held with the SERT, principal and classroom teacher to decide whether a referral to an outside agency for further assessment is warranted. The agency’s referral package is then forwarded to the Special Education Coordinator, documented and sent to the assessing agency.If, after the in-school assessment and application of recommendations, the student continues to experience difficulties with academics and/or behaviour, a case conference is held with the SERT, principal and classroom teacher to decide whether a referral to an outside agency for further assessment is warranted. The agency’s referral package is then forwarded to the Special Education Coordinator, documented and sent to the assessing agency.

9 2. School Assessment Resources & Capacity Building Strategies Each school purchased current in-school assessment tools for the use of the Special Education Resource Teacher (SERT). As part of the above-mentioned procedures, the in-school educational assessments must occur before any outside referrals are made for formal professional assessments. These tools can be used with all referrals to help determine areas of need and early intervention strategies for struggling students.Each school purchased current in-school assessment tools for the use of the Special Education Resource Teacher (SERT). As part of the above-mentioned procedures, the in-school educational assessments must occur before any outside referrals are made for formal professional assessments. These tools can be used with all referrals to help determine areas of need and early intervention strategies for struggling students. This practice provides an opportunity for dialogue and at-the- elbow SERT coaching of classroom teachers to help develop the teacher’s capacity to provide more effective programming for students even prior to receiving results of a professional assessment. PD training was provided to the nine SERTs on the administering, scoring and interpretation of new standardized assessment tools and resources.This practice provides an opportunity for dialogue and at-the- elbow SERT coaching of classroom teachers to help develop the teacher’s capacity to provide more effective programming for students even prior to receiving results of a professional assessment. PD training was provided to the nine SERTs on the administering, scoring and interpretation of new standardized assessment tools and resources.

10 3. Outside Assessments, Reporting Format and New Partnerships Due to the financial restrictions of being a small school board, TNCDSB does not have Psychologists, Speech and Language Pathologists or Occupational Therapists on staff. The Board must contract out for professional assessments and/or rely on the Lake of the Woods Child Development Center’s Teacher Diagnosticians who travel a minimum of 143 km and who service the entire Northwestern Ontario area. The wait times for the Teacher Diagnosticians are up to six months for psycho- educational assessments and a year or more for occupational therapy.Due to the financial restrictions of being a small school board, TNCDSB does not have Psychologists, Speech and Language Pathologists or Occupational Therapists on staff. The Board must contract out for professional assessments and/or rely on the Lake of the Woods Child Development Center’s Teacher Diagnosticians who travel a minimum of 143 km and who service the entire Northwestern Ontario area. The wait times for the Teacher Diagnosticians are up to six months for psycho- educational assessments and a year or more for occupational therapy. The OPA project funding allowed the Board to hire an outside Psychologist to complete the psycho-educational assessments - no wait times for service or reporting. Between January 2007 and June 2008, 32 assessments were completed and reported on, eliminating the wait list.The OPA project funding allowed the Board to hire an outside Psychologist to complete the psycho-educational assessments - no wait times for service or reporting. Between January 2007 and June 2008, 32 assessments were completed and reported on, eliminating the wait list.

11 As a result of the OPA Assessment project, the Board has established strong contacts with psychologists in the area and developed new partnerships with outside agencies. New network opportunities have been fostered with other school boards to help share resources and knowledge about emerging assessment practices and access to the OPA website for additional information. Some of the partnerships include the Lake of the Woods Child Development Centre (funded by MCYS); Integrated Services Northwest and the Teacher Diagnosticians who do Educational Assessments; and the Patricia Centre for Children and Youth who do behavioural counseling and social skills training.As a result of the OPA Assessment project, the Board has established strong contacts with psychologists in the area and developed new partnerships with outside agencies. New network opportunities have been fostered with other school boards to help share resources and knowledge about emerging assessment practices and access to the OPA website for additional information. Some of the partnerships include the Lake of the Woods Child Development Centre (funded by MCYS); Integrated Services Northwest and the Teacher Diagnosticians who do Educational Assessments; and the Patricia Centre for Children and Youth who do behavioural counseling and social skills training.

12 Psychologist Interview

13 4. Post-Assessment Reporting – Use of Videoconferencing Technology An exciting innovation for the Board’s professional assessments is the use of videoconferencing technology for Post-Assessment Conferences. All schools in TNCDSB received mobile videoconferencing equipment through the 05/06 CODE Project.An exciting innovation for the Board’s professional assessments is the use of videoconferencing technology for Post-Assessment Conferences. All schools in TNCDSB received mobile videoconferencing equipment through the 05/06 CODE Project. Face to face post-conferences with the psychologist, school team and parents are conducted at the school whenever the psychologist is in the area. Due to the Board’s geographic barriers, time and funding do not always permit this desired interaction. The Board’s videoconferencing equipment has been used to facilitate these important post-assessment conferences in a manner as close to face-to-face as possible.Face to face post-conferences with the psychologist, school team and parents are conducted at the school whenever the psychologist is in the area. Due to the Board’s geographic barriers, time and funding do not always permit this desired interaction. The Board’s videoconferencing equipment has been used to facilitate these important post-assessment conferences in a manner as close to face-to-face as possible. Attempts were made to teleconference post-assessment meetings, but it was found that vital visual information was frequently missed and the meetings did not flow well. The visual support of the videoconferencing allows all parties involved in the meeting to read body language and facial expressions to determine if clarification is needed.Attempts were made to teleconference post-assessment meetings, but it was found that vital visual information was frequently missed and the meetings did not flow well. The visual support of the videoconferencing allows all parties involved in the meeting to read body language and facial expressions to determine if clarification is needed.

14 Project Successes direct involvement of the Special Education Coordinator with the five schools and the participation in all PLC meetings;direct involvement of the Special Education Coordinator with the five schools and the participation in all PLC meetings; monthly Special Education Resource Teacher (SERT) PLCs held by mobile videoconferencing with periodic face-to-face meetings;monthly Special Education Resource Teacher (SERT) PLCs held by mobile videoconferencing with periodic face-to-face meetings; SERT’s ability to build lateral capacity with the monthly meetings by videoconferencing;SERT’s ability to build lateral capacity with the monthly meetings by videoconferencing; capacity-building opportunities for classroom teachers, principals, SERTs, psychologists and parents,capacity-building opportunities for classroom teachers, principals, SERTs, psychologists and parents, assessment report format more user-friendly for classroom teachers and parents with links to classroom programming strategies and IEP;assessment report format more user-friendly for classroom teachers and parents with links to classroom programming strategies and IEP; an electronic survey to all teachers (classroom and resource) of students that received a formal professional assessment through the project- soliciting feedback on the critical factors for better meeting the special needs of students; andan electronic survey to all teachers (classroom and resource) of students that received a formal professional assessment through the project- soliciting feedback on the critical factors for better meeting the special needs of students; and parents kept well-informed of the process from referral to reporting.parents kept well-informed of the process from referral to reporting.

15 Principal Interview Principal Interview

16 Sustainability The Board’s participation in the OPA Assessment Project resulted in assessment practices that are sustainable and embedded in the culture of the Board.The Board’s participation in the OPA Assessment Project resulted in assessment practices that are sustainable and embedded in the culture of the Board. Reporting format for professional assessments has improved to reflect the requirements of the IEP and programming for students as set out by the Ministry of Education.Reporting format for professional assessments has improved to reflect the requirements of the IEP and programming for students as set out by the Ministry of Education. Post-assessment reports involve the school Special Education Resource Team, the assessor and parents using the videoconferencing equipment available at each school when face-to-face meetings are not possible.Post-assessment reports involve the school Special Education Resource Team, the assessor and parents using the videoconferencing equipment available at each school when face-to-face meetings are not possible.

17 Next Steps One of the areas that the Board will continue to improve is the ongoing training for SERTs and teachers on professional assessment reports and implementing the recommendations into programming and students’ IEPs. From teacher feedback on the project, it is evident that in- service and at-the-elbow training are required in this area.One of the areas that the Board will continue to improve is the ongoing training for SERTs and teachers on professional assessment reports and implementing the recommendations into programming and students’ IEPs. From teacher feedback on the project, it is evident that in- service and at-the-elbow training are required in this area.


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