Mandated screening will provide useful information but not alter practices already in place at MHPSD

·2 min read

Local educators say the province’s new mandated literacy and numeracy screening assessments for Grades 1-3 is nothing new, but does provide useful information about student development, so long as educator input is also considered.

“Screens, generally, are a valuable tool for teachers because they allow them to get a quick snapshot of how students are doing with respect to their age-level peers,” Medicine Hat Public School Division superintendent, Mark Davidson, told the News.

“In some cases, if a student is really off the mark, a screen allows them to go deeper and do diagnostic assessments in order to find out in what areas the student’s skills are lacking,” Davidson said. “It allows them to plan and implement differentiated strategies in order to support learning.”

While Davidson believes screenings to be a valuable tool, he is intrigued behind the intent of the provincial mandate.

“School jurisdictions across the province have been using screens. It didn’t need to be mandated for it to matter,” said Davidson. “We’ve been doing it for many years.”

Officials with Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education theorize the mandatory implementation may be a result of the province’s desire for more standardized screening results, as there are numerous screening mechanisms available.

While MHCBE officials don’t oppose the implementation, they are awaiting more information about how the new screenings will be implemented and what role educator feedback will play in creating a response plan for students who require additional supports.

“I think the process of screening is a good idea, but there’s a lot of work to do around the intervention and the type of screen,” MHCBE associate superintendent for learning services, Hugh Lehr, said. “It needs to be worked into the normal routine and repertoire of the education system.

“I hope they leave teacher autonomy … I think teachers do a very good job of identifying and knowing their students already.”

Screening assessments will come into effect in September for Grades 2 and 3, and in January for Grade 1. Screening assessments will differ from the current Grades 2 and 3 student learning assessments.

KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News

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