Scouting mission a success

Dane Gibson
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 28/00) - A recent trip to Edmonton kept Yellowknife Education District No. 1 school officials busy.

District No. 1 acting superintendent Judith Knapp, Sir John Franklin principal Anne-Mieke Cameron, and N.J. Macpherson principal Pam Petten spoke to more than 600 education students at a University of Alberta career fair and visited four Alberta schools, Jan. 19-21.

One front was addressing the need for new teachers, the other front went looking for new ways to approach student achievement testing.

"Right now it's critical to speak to students (studying teaching) early on. They have no idea where Yellowknife is, they don't understand it's a capital city and they don't know we have top-notch schools," said Knapp.

"To shake their hands and look them in the eye really has an impact on those students who are in the position of having to choose where to go for their practicums."

Besides trying to convince bright young teachers to come North, the three educators also scouted four different schools to see how Alberta's student assessment testing programs are working.

Alberta has had achievement testing in place for years.

"One of my main goals is to promote student achievement and with that we need to put a plan in place to assess student achievement that is tied to our new curriculum," said Knapp.

"We need some way of demonstrating and measuring how we're doing. That will make us more accountable to parents, students and the public."

Achievement testing, if implemented, would be done at grades 3, 6, and 9.

The tests would be a way for teachers to gauge how each of their students are doing in different areas of the curriculum.

Unlike the standardized tests currently administered across Canada, the results gained from the new tests would be specific to each school.

Cameron said the concept of achievement testing in District No. 1 is still in the preliminary stages, but an action research group has been formed to get the idea off the ground.

Their goal is to start a pilot project in a few select classrooms sometime down the road.

"The whole idea is that the testing provides information on how students are doing or not doing," said Cameron.

"If a student isn't doing well in a specific area, teachers can look at that and reassess how they look at a student's progress. The teacher can then decide what strategies need to be put in place to further support their students."

For Petten, the trip was productive and useful. She said by having a booth at the career fair they were able to "see what keen young teachers are out there."

"We really felt like we were connecting with them," said Petten.