CRPS engaging stakeholders in 2025-29 education plan

Canadian Rockies Public Schools is in the throes of creating its educational blueprint for the next four years.

Engagement for the forthcoming 2025-29 education plan began in the fall last year and will conclude in February 2025. The planning process involves extensive community engagement activities through online surveys and strategic development sessions to gather insight from students, parents, staff and community members.

“A lot of the work we’re doing with this educational plan is to continue to build upon the legacy of student success that we have and academic excellence,” said CRPS superintendent Chris MacPhee.

“On top of that, when we bring in community members from this cross-section, we learn about different things that we are doing or could be doing with our students.”

A recent example of this is the school division’s development of environmental sustainability courses – a recommendation coming out of previous planning sessions with CRPS’s community education network, which draws insight from various workforce and business areas in the Bow Valley, including with the Town of Canmore and Town of Banff staff.

“We look at a variety of things, but obviously, the first is student success within the system, and then we start looking for further options that our students would benefit from within the Bow Valley,” said MacPhee.

The 2025-29 planning term will also be informed by past learnings from previous education plans. The core of the school division’s current 2021-25 four-year plan is strategic initiatives ensuring students thrive physically, cognitively, emotionally, socially and spiritually, measured through various metrics and feedback mechanisms.

“We take a really good look at the data that we’ve accumulated over the term of the previous plan and we work with our schools and our administrators, which are doing their own four-year education plans at the school level, and from that, determine the areas that we’re having an impact,” said MacPhee.

In addition to gathering the voices of stakeholders to inform local priorities, CRPS’ education plan is informed by historical analyses of local and provincial results as presented through the school division’s annual education results reports.

The latest 2022-23 report noted improvement in the five-year high school completion rate for First Nation, Métis and Inuit students. The completion rate rose from 69.7 per cent in 2021-22 to 84.8 in 2022-23, while the province experienced a lesser rise from 68 per cent to 71.3 per cent. Both CRPS and the province noted declines in the three-year completion rate, primarily due to learning disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further, CRPS continued to excel in the number of high school students who achieved both the acceptable standard and standards of excellence on Grade 12 diploma exams. Overall, 83.1 per cent of students achieved the acceptable standard, an increase over 2021-22 results of 80.1 per cent, and 25.5 per cent of students achieved the standard of excellence, up from 24.3 per cent in 2021-22. CRPS exceeded provincial results in both areas.

MacPhee noted while the new four-year plan is still in early development, engagement with parents and students thus far shows satisfaction in the array of learning opportunities offered by CRPS, including through its Canadian Rockies Outdoor Learning Centre, and with overall class sizes, which have become increasingly overcrowded in other school divisions across the province. In CRPS schools, however, Kindergarten to Grade 6 class sizes average 19 students. For Grades 7 to 9, class sizes are about 21 students, and for Grades 10 to 12 there are about 20 students per class.

Across seven schools, CRPS serves about 2,450 Kindergarten to Grade 12 students residing in the communities of Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise, Kananaskis, Dead Man’s Flats, Exshaw, Harvie Heights, Lac Des Arcs and other parts of the MD of Bighorn.

It also provides education to international students from around the globe and to students of the Îyârhe Nakoda First Nations by way of an education service agreement.

A draft of the 2025-29 education plan is expected early next year, with a final plan required to be submitted to the Alberta government by May 2025.

Jessica Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Rocky Mountain Outlook