Gathering of Friends: Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation (RRAFN) School Improvement Pilot Project
During the summer of 2011, a pilot project was initiated at Ginew School on the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, the main objective being to improve student outcomes.
Through this project, the MFNERC has worked with the First Nation community, as well as with Aboriginal Affairs & Northern Development Canada (AANDC) to support development and implementation of a school improvement plan that focuses on student achievement in the areas of Mathematics and English Language Arts. It was anticipated that the end result of the project would lead to the development of an effective model for addressing the educational gap that has been identified through the Auditor General’s reports since 2004.
It was quickly realized that any amount of services to be provided would be fruitless unless certain aspects of the entire education system were addressed. First and foremost, the project began with a facility audit which clearly identified health and safety issues for both staff and students. It was determined that the facility was structurally sound; however, major repairs were required, thus eliminating health and safety issues for all staff and students.
Secondly, it was noted that the necessary resources were lacking and staff had not been privy to continued instructional support from any outside entity.
Clearly, a major focus of this project was to support infrastructure and organizational development and strengthen classroom instruction, which would ultimately result in a more effective school system. Further to this was the inclusion of library services and technological resources, costs for which band-operated schools do not receive funding.
Baseline data of student achievement was gathered and programming needs were identified. Program adjustments were made and on-going professional development for instructional and support staff was provided by MFNERC specialists assigned to this project. To ensure the success of this project, specialists rearranged their existing schedules to devote 20% of their time for this project. The additional time allotted for this project gave specialists an opportunity to fully implement strategies and work one on one with teaching staff.
Pre-assessments were completed before Christmas Break, midpoint assessments were completed prior to Spring Break and within a 2.5 month period, the majority of the students of Ginew School made significant gain in both areas of ELA and Numeracy. A final assessment will be conducted before the conclusion of this current academic year.
Conclusion- Given a bigger investment in the classes, curriculum, and instruction for First Nation schools in Manitoba, the current education gap can be closed more quickly if the necessary resources, instructional support and proper infrastructure were to be put in place.