Memorial Composite
High School (10–12)

Assurance

2016-2017 Assurance Report

Principal: Carolyn Jensen
School Council Chair: Brenda Baker

Vision: Parkland School Division is a place where exploration, creativity and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams.

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Background
Inclusive Education
Quality Learning
Culture of Wellness
Universal Leadership
Engagement/Communication
Resource Stewardship

Background

As a member of the Parkland School Division family of schools, Memorial Composite High School utilizes a robust Assurance Model to understand stakeholder feedback better. Working with an Assurance Model means that MCHS, Parkland School Division and the Board of Trustees actively seek to reveal all avenues for stakeholders to tell us how we are attending to our goals and priorities. One important part of our Assurance Model is deriving stakeholder feedback through insightful comments made by parents, staff, community members and students.

MCHS continuously gathers feedback from a variety of sources, including students, parents, staff, the school division and the greater community. In addition to surveys, conferences and day-to-day conversations, our school also uses an online assurance process called ThoughtExchange that enables participants to read and rank responses based on three questions:

  • What are some concerns you have about our school this year?
  • What are some things you appreciate about our school this year?
  • What are some other things you would like to say about our school this year?

MCHS’s Assurance Report captures the strengths, opportunities, aspirations and expected results that we gathered throughout last year. In keeping with an Assurance Model, this report provides the narrative for our achievements and challenges, and is presented on our school website.

Strengths are highlighted as areas that are working well in MCHS. In our commitment to quality learning, we recognize that there will always be room for growth. We are proud of the strengths and accomplishments you have recognized in the work we do.

Opportunities are areas for growth or attention. As a school, we recognize these as areas in which we need to focus more attention, and we see that these areas are also important to you.

Aspirations are presented as priorities for a preferred future. Our stakeholders have shared a vision for where we need to go and what our world will look like when we’ve mastered our strengths and eliminated areas in need of growth.

Results capture expectations for measuring success. In other words, how will we know that we know we are successful?

In 2015-2016, Parkland School Division’s Board of Trustees approved an ambitious Education Plan that was generated through the Assurance Model. The Plan established enduring strategic processes (enduring priorities) that will always be considered in the generation of strategies (forward-thinking actionable plans). These strategies enable us to achieve our outcomes (goals).

Parkland School Division’s Ultimate Goal is Student Success and Well-Being. Students will be encouraged to explore, create, imagine and engage in lifelong learning as they develop competencies that prepare them to enter the world of post-secondary studies or work. The Division believes that student success is closely linked to student well-being and the development of social-emotional assets that build resiliency, and is therefore committed to the development of the whole child at all levels of their education. The goals, outcomes, priorities and strategies identified in the Education Plan are focused on the achievement of the Ultimate Goal: Student Success and Well-Being.

Two enduring priorities continue to guide the work of the Division. These priorities are considered to be enduring since they are necessary priorities to consider in establishing any goal:

The Enduring Priority of Engagement: Engaging all stakeholders: students, staff, and the local and global communities. Goals and strategies must include a consideration of how they will be shared and supported by all stakeholder groups.

The Enduring Priority of Resource Stewardship: Ensuring equitable and sustainable use of our resources and ensuring financial responsibility. Goals and strategies must include a consideration of how they will utilize limited resources with maximum results.

In addition to the enduring priorities listed above, the 2015-2018 Three Year Education Plan includes the goals necessary to achieve student success and well-being:

Inclusive Education: Parkland School Division is an inclusive education system. An inclusive education system is one that demonstrates behaviours and decisions that reflect valuing all students. The Division is committed to achieving this goal and to fulfilling the provincial mandate for inclusion.

In Parkland School Division, everyone is accepted and experiences a sense of belonging. Every student - no matter their ability, disability, language, cultural background, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity - has meaningful contributions to make.

Using the programs of study as the framework for learning, every student is engaged in meaningful and authentic ways. All students are treated equitably: they get the support needed when they need it, and for the intensity and duration of time for which they need it.

Quality Learning: Student success and well-being depends on quality instruction in an atmosphere that respects each learner’s independent spirit. Quality teaching practices promote the development of innovation and creativity while attending to meaningful assessment and reporting practices.

Quality Learning builds on the Division’s Inclusive Education goal in that all students are connected to the Programs of Study and all students have the supports and educational quality necessary to achieve success.

Culture of Wellness: Parkland School Division is committed to Student Success and Well-Being. The Division recognizes that, as a system, well-being must be present for all stakeholders, and therefore it is committed to fostering physical literacy, lifelong health and well-being at all levels. The Division believes that student success is closely linked to student well-being and the development of social-emotional assets that build resiliency.

The development of citizenship and social responsibility contribute to wellness and are integral to the delivery of a broad and comprehensive program of studies. We are dedicated to the development of the whole child.

Universal Leadership: Student success and well-being requires collaborative, universal leadership that employs calculated risk-taking and a determination to consider and implement new and innovative ideas. The Division’s Board of Trustees continues to embrace the direction set by Alberta Education to adopt a Generative Governance Model that demands public confidence in all facets of the system. The Division’s clear strategic direction will be maintained, administered and reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure true stewardship of resources.

As a learning organization, the Division recognizes continued improvement through a commitment to leadership at all levels.

Process

Through the 2016-17 school year, MCHS engaged with the community in a number of ways:

  • The School Council met monthly and acted as a key parent voice in advising on school matters.
     
  • MCHS parent-teacher nights were very well attended, with two evening events held in Semester One and a third in Semester Two.
     
  • Alberta Education surveyed Grade 10 parents in the spring. Unfortunately, MCHS had a low parent response this year, with only 25 parents returning their surveys.
     
  • At about the same time in February, two-thirds of MCHS students completed the Tell Them From Me surveys offered by Alberta Education as part of a Canada-wide student survey.
     
  • MCHS hosts an Open House for prospective students each year, which is very well attended. Many Grade 9 students leave this event enthusiastic about their upcoming transition to high school.
  • In addition, we hold an annual Grade 10 parent meeting for new high school parents to come and learn about how their child’s school experience changes when they enter high school. This event is also well-attended.
     
  • Taking part in the Parkland School Division ThoughtExchange community engagement process, MCHS had a good response rate, with 247 participants sharing their feedback.
     
  • Parents receive and appreciate open and timely communication from teachers regarding their individual child’s progress, as well as general communication in regard to classroom and school events.


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Inclusive Education

Strengths

For the most part the staff at Memorial is caring and compassionate. They seem to want to get to know the kids and make a connection. I am impressed with how many staff members know my child. Thanks for trying to connect with my child at so many different levels. It will truly make a difference.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

Through strong relationships with both peers and teachers, students at MCHS have a network to work within at school. Many survey participants commented about teachers being approachable and supportive of student learning, both collectively and individually. Parents and staff have noted the wide variety of course offerings that can support student interests and learning abilities.

Opportunities

Knowledge vs Skill - Students are still expected to memorize terms, definitions etc and regurgitate that information on quizzes and tests. There needs to be more meaningful and purposeful learning opportunities in classrooms and less time spend taking notes, memorizing and test writing. Activity and skill based inquiry?

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

While students at MCHS report strong relationships with peers and teachers, they report a lower sense of belonging to the school as a whole. Parents have raised concern about a need for a variety of teaching styles that meet the varying needs of our students. 

Aspirations

Teachers have different teaching styles, as students have different learning styles. I think teachers should use as many different teaching styles in the classroom to teach students so they become more adaptable, it will not help students if a teacher only uses one style they do not learn well by.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

At MCHS, we intend to maintain a strong sense of community for our students and staff. A strong educational community is a place where people feel heard and supported, and a place where we can learn and grow together. Student learning needs must continue to be supported through varied programming and strong classroom practice.

Results

I believe that every child needs a good education, even though each child has different learning impairments. Different schools and teachers have different ways of learning and teaching kids how to learn. There should be help out for everyone.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

We will know we have a strong educational community when students and parents continue to report strong connections with staff members. We look forward to an increase in student reporting in regard to their connection to the school as a whole. In addition, we will look for improved satisfaction from parents in regard to their children's learning needs being met.


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Quality Learning

Strengths

My kids have had some truly exceptional teachers. Many of my kids' teachers have been outstanding: keeping parents involved with remind, emails etc, providing coursework overviews to kids and parents, plenty of warning about tests, opportunities to makeup poor results, encouraging the students… fantastic.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

It is great to have a wide range of options to take at Memorial. These courses allow students to shine and really enjoy their learning. Most of them are hands on and kids are able to enjoy authentic learning experiences. Excellent!

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

It is evident that quality teaching and learning are taking place at MCHS as we have a very high school completion rate. All but one of our Diploma exams exceeded provincial results in 2016, and over 25% of the student population achieved an honours standing. Students reported that MCHS excels above Canadian norms in regard to the use of class time, organization, emphasis on academic skills and high expectations for students’ success on the part of their teachers. Students and parents also commented on the wide variety of course offerings, which allow students to explore and develop future career paths. 

Opportunities

[There is a] Lack of guided and timely post-high school planning for graduating students. For the majority of Grade 12 students, planning for "what's next" is really independent and left up to the individual learner. CALM 20 starts them thinking, perhaps, but in reality, kids are living in the moment and when in Grade 11, very few are thinking 2 years ahead. Follow up individually…

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

Engaging students in seeing the value of preparing for the world of work is a priority, as less than two-thirds of MCHS students report that they value school outcomes. This disinterest can also contribute to a low participation rate for post-secondary education. Tying into this theme is parent and teacher perception that children are not taught the attitudes and behaviors that will make them successful when they finish school. There is also room for improvement on Diploma exams at the Standard of Excellence level.

Aspirations

High School needs to change with changing times.... I am told High School is trying to prepare our kids for University. What percent of our kids are going to University? That number continues to decline as careers are changing the job market is changing. In the real world we do not write tests to demonstrate we are going a superior job. We perform.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

MCHS is a school where students engage in their learning and successfully complete high school with a plan for their next steps in life and they leave with an understanding of what it will take to achieve their goals. Through these practices and continued quality instruction, students will achieve at higher levels in whatever part of our broad-based programming they choose.

Results

The Memorial High School experience has been very rewarding. High School is the foundation for onward learning and career development. I feel my daughter is well prepared for her future upon graduation this year.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

At MCHS, high school completion rates will be maintained while achievement levels on Diploma exams increase. Our students and parents will report greater connectedness to the world of work in areas that they see as suited to their futures.


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Culture of Wellness

Strengths

Great School Spirit: We sense a real school spirit and great feel whenever we come into the school.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

The exercise rooms: So good, keep these open, give the kids so much access to them to exercise. Especially the loners who have nowhere else to go.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

MCHS students demonstrate positive behaviour at school due to the school’s positive atmosphere. This positive atmosphere is evident in self-reporting and by walking through the school on any typical day. Parents note the support of our counselling staff, a strong Physical Education program, and great fitness facilities.

Opportunities

High levels of anxiety in students: A high number of our teens are feeling anxious and overwhelmed! So much so that it is disabling them. These students are "good" kids, from "good" homes. Sometimes the depression is obvious, but most of the students don't appear to be struggling emotionally, yet they talk with such despair!

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

Drugs at school: My daughter has stressed that there are lots of drugs at school. Kids going to the smoking spot and getting high then return to class.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

Students, especially girls, are reporting greater levels of anxiety and depression, and students are asking for help in addressing mental health concerns. Our students are below Canadian norms in relation to their level of daily physical activity. Both parents and students are concerned with the prominence of the “smoke pit” as you arrive on school property. As well, parents report concerns with drug use among students.

Aspirations

Outward Thinking: I'm impressed with the new school newsletter and future areas being worked on like mental health. To me this is likely the biggest challenge high school students have and if that can be addressed everything else will fall into place more smoothly.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

MCHS students will continue to report positively on their behaviour, and maintain positive relationships with their peers that will extend to the school community as a whole. Both academic and wellness supports will be available to assist students in growing up as healthy and confident young adults.

Results

My child feels safe, respected, and valued. The vast majority of the staff at MCHS interact with students in a pleasant and respectful manner. Students feel cared for. A great atmosphere.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

We look forward to improvements in the overall wellness of our MCHS students, which will be achieved through an increase in activities, supports and services available to them.


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Universal Leadership

Strengths

The support from administration. When I have concerns and contact the school the responses I receive are in a timely manner and my concerns are addressed or I am directed to or contacted by the person or people that I need to talk too. The information given to us by administration has been extremely helpful!

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

Great job with the Lock Down Process. Even though my worry level rose upon first seeing the email, the school and school division handled the lock down and followed their process. I appreciated the phone message following the incident about transportation, etc. I think if this happened again I am comfortable with school process.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

Through reporting measures, parents commented most positively on the great work that teachers, administrators and support staff do with their children. Parents have stated they believe the school is well-run with a positive atmosphere.

In December 2016, MCHS experienced a lockdown, which was obviously of great concern to students and parents. The event occurred toward the end of the school day, impacting transportation home. Feedback indicates parents’ belief that the situation was handled well, and demonstrates their confidence in the safety of their children at school.

Opportunities

School crisis management: While not knowing the actual content, it appears that the school has a policy/procedure for responding to a security crisis within the school (in regards to the incident in early Dec/16). My expectation is that the incident was/will be thoroughly reviewed with the appropriate authorities.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

There is concern that MCHS students are not modeling active citizenship. Student participation in leadership activities has declined in recent years. As well, student participation in teams and/or clubs is well below Canadian norms.

Though the notable majority of feedback regarding the lockdown was positive, some concerns were expressed. As with any unusual event that occurs in the school, the lockdown was thoroughly reviewed and updates were made to procedures based upon the experience.

Aspirations

I feel there are many opportunities for extracurricular activities for students at lunch. I appreciate the time that teachers are putting in for these activities.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

MCHS will continue to be a well-run school with a vibrant atmosphere where students are encouraged and provided with opportunities to develop their personal and collective citizenship skills and leadership abilities. Staff and community members will continue to be welcomed and encouraged to volunteer their time for extracurricular sports and activities. In addition, administrators and teachers will continue to develop their leadership skills to see various aspects of MCHS grow and thrive. 

Results

I appreciate the teacher's dedication in helping students be the "best they can be". Thank you teachers!!

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

The operation of MCHS will continue to be effective and progressive as noted through feedback from our students and parents. We look forward to seeing more students involved in a variety of service and spirit activities that will improve our school community and the community of Stony Plain.


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Engagement/Communication

Strengths

I have received numerous emails from teachers at the high school reminding us of various activities, assignments, exams and projects that are coming up. This helps us as parents to monitor our children's progress.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

Friendly and knowledgeable office staff: Always ready to help. Knowledgeable of the student body and what is happening within the school, academically and socially.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

MCHS students are engaged in their learning, reporting that they are interested and motivated in their studies and trying hard to succeed. Students also report that teachers are responsive to their needs and encourage independence. These reports are all above Canadian norms.

Both students and parents at MCHS report that teachers are approachable, open and encouraging. Parents report that they appreciate the variety of ways in which teachers keep communication lines between school and home open, and the relative quality of these communications. Our office staff have also received positive feedback regarding their helpfulness. We are very pleased that we had 247 MCHS participants in the PSD ThoughtExchange survey, as this has provided valuable feedback for planning.

Opportunities

What format is the teacher using? I struggle with Google docs, vs paper assignments vs textbook work, the kid says it's online, next it's on paper somewhere, next it's in a textbook. There is no one place to expect an assignment to be. I try to help my kid stay (get) organized and teachers think I'm being poor parent.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

MCHS students place less value in school outcomes and their plans to complete high school and participate in post-secondary education than the Canadian average. While most parents report that they are happy with the communication between school and home, there is some inconsistency with some teachers. Parents indicate that they are not as involved in decision-making as they could be when it comes to their child’s education and school. Though MCHS participation in PSD surveys has increased, our participation in Alberta Education surveys has decreased.

Aspirations

I appreciate the automated voice messages for reminders, and for checking on absences.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

We want our parents to know how information flows and where to go to get information about their children’s progress, and we want to ensure they stay informed about school happenings. The School Council is a strong voice for parents of MCHS.

We will continue to develop a school communication plan that will be posted on our website.

Results

Have enjoyed the openness & communication from the new principal. Excellent new communication initiatives (newsletter).

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

We anticipate that the addition of some communication strategies will improve results in regard to parent concerns with communication. 


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Resource Stewardship

Strengths

The school is clean and demonstrates pride of community. Kids feel proud of their school and responsible for its "condition". The environment is conducive to learning.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

Parents, students and staff comment that MCHS is a lovely facility. As we are entering our seventh year in this building, it is still very well maintained and its environment is generally well respected by the students.

Opportunities

Reduced budgets for labs, field trips and other educational equipment: Seems like a new, very spartan budget approach has reached Memorial. This will further erode the quality of public education.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

Slight enrollment declines over three successive years have seen school revenues decrease. In addition, our new building is now over five years old, and some equipment and furniture is beginning to wear out. Replacement that hasn’t been required in recent years is now impacting spending. A right-sizing of the budget has occurred. 

Aspirations

There are no significant issues - focus on educational excellence. Much ado about nothing is the mantra of today. For every investigation and action, there is a cost. Please focus on what drives maximum value for the majority whilst ensuring that no individual is severely impacted.

- Parent Quote via ThoughtExchange
 

MCHS will use its resources wisely. When feasible, community and/or private sector partnerships will be established to expand our resources to support student programming. MCHS has been diligent in maintaining this facility since it has opened, and this will continue. As the facility ages, we will need to take more care in allocating resources and maintaining aging equipment.

With regards to Resource Stewardship at MCHS:
  • We have reduced our teaching staff in accordance with enrollment decline.
     
  • Funds have been set aside for maintenance and/or replacement of CTS equipment, and other technology equipment is being maintained, repurposed and/or replaced as needed.
     
  • We have created a Chromebook cart for general use.
     
  • We have switched to a new software program, which will allow administrators and department heads to have real-time budget updates.

Results

The school community will continue to comment positively on the condition of the school facility. Budgets will be balanced. There will be enough spaces for students to learn and socialize.


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Parking & Traffic - Opportunities For Growth

There is very clear messaging from our parent community that the traffic flow and parking around the school is not smooth. While there is no quick fix for this issue, PSD Facilities Services have been notified and will consider the concern in due course.