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

School Mission: Within the context of our Catholic faith, the St. Mark school community strives to achieve excellence to ensure all students are able to imagine, transform, create, and celebrate their individual potential and unique gifts given to them by God..
School Vision: Share Faith; Offer Prayer; Gather Hope Together we Think, Write and Roar!
School Charism: St. Mark’s Charisms are encouragement and hospitality, in which we give the gifts of nurturing the uniqueness of each individual in an inclusive environment and creating a tight knit family within our amazing school amongst church, students, staff, parents and community.

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.
Actions we will take
We will embrace the Catholic tradition of learning in a day of prayer. Our school will continue to start our day with a morning prayer that focuses on scripture. To add to the experience, we will start a new tradition in which our school day will close with an end of the day blessing. The blessing will start as an adaptation of our school charism. As the year progresses, we will engage our students and staff to write their own blessings to conclude our day of prayer. Through these special blessings/prayers, we will continue to celebrate our unique gifts and live out our charism throughout the school as a family. Our school will continue the process of creating a St. Mark Safe Group. This will be a meeting place for any students and staff interested. Its primary objective is to be a support group for students to develop a strong path of acceptance of all students in our school community regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, and/or religion. Students will be able to discuss key current events and embrace what we can learn to promote positivity within our school community from a Catholic worldview. Students will exemplify and be the models of what it truly means to be Catholic - "to be all embracing." This will primarily be student lead with the support of St. Mark staff and will be a group which continues to evolve over time.
Performance Measures:
Our performance in this area will be evaluated using the following Local Measure:
  • ECSD Assurance Survey of Theme - Catholic Identity.
  • Measure the number of participants that join the St. Mark Safe Group over the year.
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of being treated fairly.
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of students feeling safe at school.
Priority:  Student Success
Through a holistic approach, students will develop to their fullest potential through multiple pathways.
Key Strategies:
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
Our school is going to continue to embrace the learning assessment research that promotes using levels of achievement to describe a student's demonstrated understanding of the outcomes in the program of studies. We will be moving away from number scores, including percentages, for all formative and summative assessments. The only exceptions will be a percent grade will be provided for all students, not on an adapted program, at the end of the school year, and all grade nine students will be provided an additional percent grade at the end of January to help them transition to high school. The levels of achievement will support our students and their families understanding of feedback from teachers. Our teachers will focus on assessing whether a student has a beginning, acceptable, proficient, or exemplary understanding of the outcome, and what they need to learn to improve their understanding of that outcome. Our school will continue to differentiate for the varying levels of abilities and learning needs of our students. To ensure all St. Mark students feel safe, comfortable, and motivated to learn we will be expanding our accommodations for our students that are successfully learning the grade level program of studies. For our students that would have greater success learning the knowledge and employability (K&E) program of studies, we will be directly differentiating for them inside our classrooms. For our inclusive students that need adaptations to have success in our classrooms, we will ensure that they are welcome in our classrooms and learning. This will not only ensure success at St. Mark school but will ensure smoother transitions to high school.
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
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of student support in classrooms.
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of student learning for a lifetime.
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.2 Develop, promote, and oversee the application of excellent professional practices consistent with the Teaching Quality Standard, Leadership Quality Standard, and Superintendent Leadership Quality Standard, all which guide and support student achievement.
E.4 Ensure that ECSD recruitment, hiring, and teacher development practices enhance and promote the best Catholic educational learning environments and experiences for student success.
Actions we will take
Our teachers will continue to analyze the outcomes and directing words in the program of studies to ensure all instructional practices and assessments directly align with the program of studies. To further support student learning, our teachers will be placing a greater emphasis on our students recognizing the outcomes they are responsible to learn. Through descriptive feedback, assessments, and using the levels of achievement (beginning, acceptable, proficient, and exemplary), the students will understand their achievement level on each outcome; correspondingly, promoting a culture of life-long learning as they identify which outcomes they still need to learn in order to reach their potential. Our staff will be provided training to better understand the roles, relationships, and responsibilities of the learning coach, teacher, behavioural therapist and educational assistant in the classroom team. If Federal government funding is approved, more staff will be hired to support our classrooms. As such, professional development will ensure the best use of our human resources to create the best learning environment for our students.
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
  • School survey to determine the success of training for all members of the classroom team.
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of students understanding what they are learning.
Priority:  Building Our Future Together
We will engage in good stewardship of all resources through principled governance and engagement.
Key Strategies:
B.1 Continue to develop collaborative plans with the Council of Elders and Indigenous communities to enhance supports and services for Indigenous students.
B.2 Continue to walk together recognizing the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
B.3 Ensure that resources are being used effectively and efficiently while providing flexibility for how schools and departments meet their unique needs.
Actions we will take
Our school is going to maximize its relationship and proximity to the Braided Journeys program at Fresh Start Westmount by becoming a Braided Journeys school. This will officially connect the facilitator of the program to our students and staff, thereby providing more learning opportunities surrounding Indigenous culture, traditions and accepting the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This will benefit all students and staff at our school as we promote the interconnectedness of our Catholic beliefs with the spiritual beliefs of our Indigenous families. We will be creating a semestered option course for our students to become more confident in school and life, and learn more about Indigenous peoples. The connections our students and staff will be able to create with the Council of Elders and Indigenous communities will increase exponentially as our facilitator guides us down this new path as a Braided Journey school. To support our many ELL, refugee, and struggling readers/writers, we are going to increase the amount of dedicated time our staff have to work with these students on a one-to-one/small group basis. We will increase the number of teaching blocks our ELL teacher designate receives in a week so she can coordinate with our learning coach and maximize the supports for our students. We are also going to further train our inclusive educational assistant (EA) staff to provide literacy one-to-one support for these students to maximize student learning.
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
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of available student services.
  • Alberta Education Assurance Measure of students feeling safe at school.
November Review:
As we review our Growing in Faith goal, we are very pleased by our progress. Our school has implemented an end-of-the-day blessing to close our day of school much like our Church closes a mass. One minute before the end-of-the-school day, the bells are turned off and two students announce, over the intercom, the following. Student 1 says, “Hello. My name is _____________ and this is _____________. We will be doing the end of the day blessing. St. Mark staff and students, please pause and bow your heads as we prepare for our end-of-the-day blessing.” Student 2 says the blessing, “God Bless each talented individual in our tight knit, St. Mark family. Let continuous encouragement and hospitality guide us towards faith, hope and love in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” Two new students volunteer each week. So far the feedback from the staff and students has been extremely positive. Our safe club has been meeting weekly for months now and is creating the genuine safe meeting place all our students deserve. The students have been making new friends and allies, creating crafts, playing games, and learning about the 2SLGBTQ+ community. We are so proud of our leaders in this club and their commitment to creating a safe learning environment for all St. Mark students. As we review our Student Success goal, we can verify that removing numeric scores in our reporting of assessments for our grade seven and eight students has been very successful. The initial benefits include a more positive attitude from our students and an increase in motivation to learn from their mistakes, thereby improving their level of achievement. With our grade nine students we have also seen an improvement in motivation to learn from teacher/peer/self feedback to raise their level of achievement. All students are focusing on feedback more which has increased the learning. Teachers at St. Mark school continue to differentiate for all levels of abilities in their classes which has led to more positive attitudes, effort, and better communication. As we review our Excellent Place to Work and Learn goal, our move to directly align all instructional and assessment practices on the program of studies has led to better communication between the student, teacher, and home. The parent/guardians and students clearly know what they need to work on to improve their learning. This was evident in the feedback from our parent/student/teacher conferences. Our school will continue to train our staff to improve the positive effects our classroom team has on the students. The communication between our staff has already led to greater inclusion and has provided more opportunities for our complex students to show independence. As we review our Building Our Future Together goal, we are pleased with our decision to make St. Mark school a Braided Journeys site this year and all the positive impacts it has had on our community. The attendance rates for many of our Indigenous students rose and there has been an increase in classwork completion. Our Indigenous students had the opportunity to join our first Cree Culture option course which allowed them to explore their culture and heritage including two field trips to enhance their learning. We were excited when some of our non-Indigenous students heard about the course and registered in it. The Braided Journeys students’ passion became more evident when they created a Braided Journeys Leadership club which has already raised awareness and understanding in our whole school population, including a student-led social justice fundraiser.
February Review:
As we review our Growing in Faith goal, we are proud to say that the end-of-the-day blessing is continuing to positively impact our school community. Not only are our students continuing to volunteer to read the blessing over the intercom at the end of our day, but students are now creating pieces of artwork to celebrate our charism. Staff, students, and our parent community have used it to finish meetings and classes. It has become part of the St. Mark culture. Our safe club now has a name. It will be called the Love is Love Club, or LiL Club for short. It is a perfect name for our club as all of God’s creation was created with love. The LiL club has already surpassed our expectations of creating a safe spot for allies and LGBTQ2+ students. They are now working hard to build awareness around the whole school to make sure all students feel welcome and safe. They are designing an emblem to make t-shirts for their members. To raise money for their t-shirts they will be selling buttons they created that have positive messages of unity and love. As we review our Student Success goal, we are pleased with the positive responses from students, families, and staff. Students rarely ask for percentages anymore but are starting to focus on their level of achievement on the outcomes, and most importantly, how to improve. Our plan to support and guide more of our students that would benefit learning the Knowledge and Employability (K&E) program is working. Teachers are starting to identify and support more and more which will have a positive impact on our provincial achievement test scores because more of our students will be assessed to their ability. Our high schools are also please with this because it will make for a smoother transition to grade ten. Our Excellent Place to Work and Learn goals are also showing great success. Our teachers are providing many more methods and opportunities for feedback to our students which is leading to greater learning. The students are recognizing their levels of achievement and what they need to demonstrate to achieve excellence. We are confident that this work will support more of our students to become life-long learners. We are pleased to announce that we have been able to hire another full time teacher, educational assistant (EA), and behavioural therapist (TA-BT) to support our classrooms. The full time teacher has already started supporting many of our at-risk students to help them stay motivated and feel comfortable learning in school. She has supported many of our students by accommodating them during their assessments by reading questions, helping them understand questions, providing a quieter working environment, and providing extra time. Our new EA has already demonstrated that she will be invaluable supporting our teachers as they work with our students. The TA-BT should be hired in the coming weeks. Reviewing our Building Our Future Together goal has also shown very positive progress. There was enough interest from both our Indigenous and non-Indigenous students to continue to offer a Braided Journeys option course in our second semester. Due to COVID, we have had to control outside the classroom learning opportunities, but as the spread of the virus slows down, our Braided Journeys team has many exciting field trip opportunities planned that will truly create an extraordinary learning environment for our Braided Journey students.