Ministry of Education Guest Speaker: Tim Calvell

February 27, 2014

Our ECS 410 class was lucky enough to have a guest speaker, Tim Calvell from the Ministry of Education to answer our questions about curriculum and educational priorities.

After a brief introduction of himself and the Ministry of Education, Tim began to embark on answering our questions. I took notes of the ideas that resonated with me, or things that I was interested in. In jot note format I will copy those notes below.

  • The Ministry has a $1.7 million budget per year. Most of that money goes directly to schools (the exact number was not given).
  • $1.3 million will benefit students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 annually.
  • Education is the second biggest Ministry in Saskatchewan
  • The Saskatchewan Plan for Growth:

-By 2020 we will lead the country in graduation rates, currently we have a 70% graduation rate (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have around 85%)

-By 2020, we will reduce the FNMI non-graduation rates by 50% (currently only 34% of FNMI students are graduating)

-The biggest challenge will be meeting FNMI, poverty and rural students’ graduation rates. It is very critical to meet these needs.

-Ministry preciously used to ask School Divisions to increase the four priority areas (3 for teachers, all 4 for administration):

1. Higher Literacy and Achievement –literacy and understanding of concepts and the language used in every class

2. Equitable Opportunities – give everyone an opportunity to show growth and their learning

3. Smooth Transitions – between grades, elementary/high school to help with grade, assessment/evaluation transitions and changes.

4. System Accountability and Governance.

These priorities indicate a focus on student achievement and growth, and building a culture that provides success for all students is a shared mandate.

Now, the Ministry is generating a sector plan. The sector plan must be approved by each local board.

Priorities are: addressing FNM levels of achievement (increase the graduation rates), and increase the reading skills of Grade 3 rate for all students. Grade 3 is pivotal because students learn to read, and then at this point read to learn (turning point).

-The Ministry is no longer renewing assessment/curriculum because they are looking for supports for these new priority areas.

-The Ministry is not responsible for grading or evaluating students.

-Grading consistently is a challenge during long periods of time (he advises teachers to take many breaks to stay fresh and mark at the same level for all students).

-“Assess means to sit beside” – he means to give lots of feedback to our students.

-Tests are not absolute (the results can changes daily based on other circumstances)

The final point he gave us was answering the question: what is an ideal new teacher like? The ideal new teacher is culturally appropriate and responsive, has high expectations and care for students, is accepting and understanding, wants success for students, co-constructs with students (tells him what you know, it can make an outcome), uses the inquiry process, provides feedback/forward on for students’ academic status.

This presentation was excellent, and packed with information that education students generally do not know about. I suggest this speaker for any educational course, as he was very thorough and planned his speech directly to the questions we sent him prior to the presentation.

If you are interested in an official release of these priorities, please click on the link below for a news article.

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