School Plan for Continuous Growth 2020-2023 (year 2)

School Mission: With Christ as our model and families as our partners, the staff of St. Thomas Aquinas will inspire our students to be collaborative; critical thinkers; and ethical citizens, through interactive, hands on learning experiences. .
School Vision: Students will learn to live out the Cardinal and Theological virtues set out by our patron, Saint Thomas Aquinas.
School Charism: Charism of Wisdom.

Priority:  Growing in Faith
Our students and staff will learn and live the Word of God through worship, witness, and service.
Key Strategies:
F.1 Empower students and staff to express and share their gifts from God and explore the school’s charism and its importance.
F.3 Provide an excellent Catholic education that empowers students to discern current events from a Catholic worldview and to witness our faith to all.
F.4 Provide formation opportunities for students and staff that further their participation in our faith and enable them to discern the presence of God in their lives.
Actions we will take
The focus of our teaching will be on the Four Cardinal (prudence; temperance; fortitude; justice) and three theological virtues (Faith; Hope; Charity) as set out by St. Thomas Aquinas. Our goal in teaching students these virtues is to help them understand how to be witnesses of our Catholic faith by the decisions we make and the service we provide to those around us. For example, by teaching students the virtue of prudence; they will be better able to understand the need to consider their actions from a Catholic perspective. Student will ask, how will my decision affect others; how will what I am planning on doing show others Christ's love for them. Our virtue lessons will be taught by the classroom teachers, with the support of a common bank of resources that has been created and updated by our Chaplain. Each month teachers and students will select a student from their class who has actively demonstrated the virtue that was studied that month. These students will be showcased on morning broadcast, receive a certificate and their names will be on a poster which will hang on our virtues wall. We will increase the number of Social justice projects in our school, ensuring that students understand the importance of taking care of others in our world. These will be done through individual and cross grade projects.
Performance Measures:
Our performance in this area will be evaluated using the following Local Measure:
  • ECSD Assurance Survey of Theme - Catholic Identity.
  • The seven virtues will be studied throughout the school year.
  • Our school will be involved in three social justice projects throughout the year.
Priority:  Student Success
Through a holistic approach, students will develop to their fullest potential through multiple pathways.
Key Strategies:
S.1 Identify and apply best practices for curriculum implementation to ensure student success.
S.2 Implement teaching and assessment practices to deepen students’ understanding and to increase ability to target teaching and improve learning.
S.4 Continue to support students’ diverse needs through best practice and responsive and flexible programming.
Actions we will take
In order to assist our teachers in identifying and applying best practices for curriculum implementation; we will be involved in four areas of focus for teaching this year. First our elementary teachers will be involved in implementing the 5 Pillars of Reading in their classrooms. All (elementary and Junior High) teachers will learn to use the reading screeners to determine their students’ strengths and areas in which they need to grow as readers. Using this information, they will then be able to determine what is needed in their classroom to assist readers to become better decoders or better at reading comprehension. Second, Elementary teachers will implement the Mathups resource into their math classes. This resource is beneficial in assisting teaches to assess students to understand the next steps they need to take in teaching students. Third, all teachers will be involved in improving our students writing ability by taking part in the division wide writing assessment tests. By using information from these assessments, we will understand what we need to do to improve student writing. Fourth we will be supporting students' diverse needs by taking part in the research project lead by the LIT team in conjunction with Elisa Lowry from the University of Mississippi. This research project is focused on the inclusive classroom strategies that are used to support Autistic children in our classrooms.
Performance Measures:
Our performance in this area will be measured using:
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of Student Learning (Provincial Achievement Tests and Diploma Exam Results)
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of High School Completion
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of Citizenship
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of Student Learning Engagement
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of Welcoming, Caring, Respectful and Safe Learning Environment
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of Access to Support and Services
Local Measures:
  • ECSD Assurance Survey of Theme - Access to Help, Support and Resources
  • ECSD Assurance Survey of Theme - Student Engagement
  • ECSD Assurance Survey of Theme - Safe and Caring Learning Environment
  • ECSD Assurance Survey of Theme - Foundational Knowledge about First Nations, Métis and Inuit
  • All students will be assessed using the reading screeners three times a year.
  • Kindergarten to Grade 3 teachers will use the Haggerty Resource in their classrooms on a regular basis. Phonemic awareness will be a focus of our teaching. This will be evidenced in the primary classrooms through the use of sound walls.
  • All teachers will use the MAST (Math Assessment Screening Tool) to assess our students math ability.
  • All students will be assessed using the Division writing assessment three times per year.
  • Teachers will have taken part in monthly Pd sessions with Toby Scott to learn strategies for classroom
Priority:  An Excellent Place to Work and Learn
We will provide an optimal learning and working environment that fosters a culture of faith, trust, unity, inclusivity, confidence, respect, value and appreciation for one another.
Key Strategies:
E.3 Provide and engage in professional learning to enhance the level of subject matter, conceptual, and procedural knowledge expertise and competency.
Actions we will take
By involving our teachers in the new initiatives we have mentioned in the area of student success; we will be helping to develop our teachers professional practice. They will learn many new teaching strategies in the area of Language Arts, Math and inclusive education that will help to enrich their ability to apply current and effective instruction and assessment to help meet the needs of their students. They will be given many opportunities to be engaged in professional learning through these initiatives.
Performance Measures:
Our performance in this area will be measured using:
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of Education Quality
Local Measures:
  • ECSD Assurance Survey of Theme - Teaching and Assessment Practices
  • ECSD Assurance Survey of Theme - Staff Engagement and Respect in the Workplace
  • ECSD Assurance Survey of Theme - Overall Satisfaction with Edmonton Catholic Schools
  • Teachers will have had an opportunity to engage in various professional development opportunities with the proposed initiative.
Priority:  Building Our Future Together
We will engage in good stewardship of all resources through principled governance and engagement.
Key Strategies:
B.4 Continue to nurture collaborations, relationships and partnerships to provide programs and services for students from Pre-K-12.
B.5 Ensure decisions are data-informed; enable best practice indicators and transparency to ensure continuous improvement.
Actions we will take
We will continue to involve our staff in the Collaborative Response Model to allow an opportunity for them to share best practices in meeting student needs. We will encourage collaboration between grade partners by providing time for staff to meet and share ideas and strategies. By being involved in the pilots for the administration of the reading screeners and writing assessments our teachers will have a bank of data to draw on when considering next steps for our students in reading and writing.
Performance Measures:
Our performance in this area will also be measured using:
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of Parental Involvement and,
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of Budget-Actual Comparison
Local Measures:
  • ECSD Assurance Survey of Theme - Parent/Guardian Involvement
  • ECSD Assurance Survey of Theme - Implementing Frameworks and Procedures
  • Our staff will be involved in Collaborative Response Model discussion groups seven times through the school year.
  • They will have met as grade partner groups at least ten times through the year, having set aside a Thursday afternoon each month specifically for this.
  • Staff will have collected student assessment data on reading and writing three times in the year, they will have analyzed this data to understand next steps, and will be able to celebrate student progress.
November Review:
Virtues Goal: Since March of last year students have been taught six of the seven virtues. With the assistance of the resources provided by our chaplain, teachers have assisted students in understand the virtues of Temperance, Hope, Prudence, Faith, Charity and Fortitude. We have awarded certificates recognizing student's exemplary behaviors demonstrating each of these virtues in our school. We will teach the remaining virtue of Justice during the month of January 2022. We will continue our study of the virtues by revisiting those that have already been taught and will again award certificates of recognition for students who demonstrate these virtues in their everyday lives. We now need to focus our attention on the Social Justice projects in our school. Improved Instruction: Language Arts: 5 Pillars of Reading; Grade 2, 3, and 4 teachers have been assessed our students reading ability using the LeNS; CC3 and the screeners for Comprehension, Fluency and Word reading. Using this data we will be analyzing how we are teaching reading in our classrooms, focusing our attention on implementing the 5 Pillars of reading. Our Junior High Language Arts teachers have taken part in the Write On pilot and are now analyzing the data from this assessment. We will work at using this data to inform our teaching. Our elementary and junior high teachers will be assessing students in their math abilities, using the MAST tool. In Junior High the assessment focused on Calculator Free assessment. We are in the process of analyzing this data to inform our next steps. Collaborative Response Model: we have continued our practice of meeting every six weeks changing our focus to teaching strategies rather than being completely student focused discussions. STAR: St. Thomas Aquinas Research Project; we have begun our work with our Division Low Incident Team, as well as collaborating with the research lead from the University of Mississippi Alisa Lowrey. Our teachers have been involved in three professional development opportunities two of which were Visual schedules and systematic instruction. We will be engaged a session on differentiated instruction. Our teachers are working closely with the occupational specialist; speech therapist; and behavior therapists to understand how to best meet our students' needs.
February Review:
Improved Instruction: Language Arts: 5 Pillars of Reading; Grade 2, 3, and 4 teachers have been assessed our students reading ability using the LeNS; CC3 and the screeners for Comprehension, Fluency and Word reading. Using this data we analyzed how we are teaching reading in our classrooms, focused our attention on implementing the 5 Pillars of reading. Teachers have implemented the use of Haggerty Phonics we have noted a huge improvement in our Grade 1 reading results with less than 10% of our students considered as struggling readers. As well, we began a reading intervention program targeting our Grade 2 & Grade 3 readers. Our reading intervention teachers meet with small groups of students on a daily basis. Our teachers have noticed a great deal of improvement in their students ability to decode words, thereby increasing their reading and comprehension skills. We will be testing students at the beginning of April to assess the improvements that have been made, allowing us to understand how to move forward from here. Our Junior High Language Arts teachers have taken part in the Write On pilot have analyzed the data from this assessment. As a result, teachers targeted the area of conventions in order to improve our students writing scores. Our elementary and junior high teachers have assessed students in their math abilities, using the MAST tool. In Junior High the assessment focused on Calculator Free assessment. We have identified and are working on improving our students' test taking ability, reading and understanding the question, as well as their ability to record their answers in the proper format. Collaborative Response Model: we have continued our practice of meeting every six weeks changing our focus to teaching strategies rather than being completely student focused discussions. STAR: St. Thomas Aquinas Research Project; over the past six months we have been working with our Division Low Incident Team, as well as collaborating with the research lead from the University of Mississippi Alisa Lowrey. Our teachers have been involved in three professional development opportunities two of which were Visual schedules and systematic instruction. Our teachers continue to work closely with the occupational specialist; speech therapist; and behavior therapists to understand how to best meet our students' needs. Even though we continue to work with our Low Incident Team, we have discontinued our partnership with the University of Mississippi.