SD72 board office. Campbell River Mirror photo

SD72 board office. Campbell River Mirror photo

Cohort Program reducing failure rates amongst Grade 9 students

Program, which introduced quadmesters, was introduced in 2021 during COVID pandemic

The final meeting of the SD72 board for January was held without a key member.

Superintendent remarks by Jeremy Morrow were made by associate superintendent Philip Cizmic, as Morrow was under the weather and unable to attend the meeting. Cizmic emphasized this as a reminder that despite a return to normalcy, the COVID pandemic is far from over, and individuals should stay home when not feeling well.

“If you’re not feeling well and you think you may be contagious, stay home. We have the flu going around and such,” said Cizmic. “Thank you superintendent for the reminder, as you did so with your own absence.”

After opening remarks regarding the regional equity scan session, which took place on Jan. 19. The event featured SD72 host districts from both Nanaimo and Powell River. Made up of education and community teams, they learned and shared ideas with regards to reconciliation and equity.

READ MORE: SD72 updates public on new Parent Portal app

“It was a great opportunity for us to learn,” said Cizmic, as he thanked SD72’s Indigenous Education District Principal, Debra Martel for putting the event together.

After passing minutes from the previous meeting’s agenda, the evening shifted to the Cohort Program, introduced in 2021 at Carihi Secondary School. The update was presented by Carihi High staff members Alana Jorgensen, Jessica McConnell, Scott McKenzie, Matthew Moore, Stephanie Nicoll, Allison Peake and Leah Samson.

Introduced during COVID, the program has Grade 9 students split into four terms as opposed to the traditional structure of high school of two semesters. Each quarter has two classes for 10 weeks, which students get one STEM class (Science, math, Socials or English) for one block each quarter, either shared between two teachers or two cohorts, with the same instructor for all four classes. Teachers will plan and collaborate, with a switch between the two teachers for a half day once weekly.

The success seems to be working: According to the presentation, data collected from last year show failure rates among these students reached an all-time low of last year.

“We see the success from all learners” said presenter Lea Samson. “But we see this particularly helpful with Indigenous students.”

“We also see that Grade nines are little more fragile, partially due to the pandemic,” added McKenzie. “It’s good for them to see consistency, and establish that sense of trust. Just seeing the same teachers every day.”

Trustee Daryl Hagen tended to agree with the approach.

“The role of teachers needs to be innovative,” said Hagen at the end of the presentation. “In order to see the change we want to see in kids. I’m glad to see you’re providing that education.”

Other topics included a update to the strategic plan for SD72, and updates to board governance and quarterly budget report, presented by SD72 Secretary-Treasurer Kevin Patrick.

Edward Hitchins

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