School board launches pilot project

Superintendent of Education Terry Ellwood will report on the Aboriginal Achievement Pilot Project during the Rainy River District School Board’s regular meeting tonight, which is being held in Atikokan.
The Northern Ontario Education Leaders (N.O.E.L.)—made up of eight school boards in Northwestern Ontario—has secured funding from the Ministry of Education for four pilot projects to improve the achievement of aboriginal students in the region.
The local public school board will receive $60,000 to run a project called “Later Literacy,” which will involve one-on-one instruction with aboriginal students who need help in the intermediate grades.
“This is something that will help address the fact that aboriginal students are not succeeding the way we’d like them to,” Ellwood said.
“Traditionally, students ‘learn to read’ in the primary grades and ‘read to learn’ in the junior/intermediate/ senior grades,” he added.
Because reading generally is not taught after Grade 6, students who still struggle to read at this stage often fall behind.
The “Later Literacy” program will teach reading skills to these students.
The funding will be used to hire seven educational assistants (five full-time equivalents) to provide one-on-one instruction to a small number of aboriginal students between February and June.
They then will complete baseline and exit assessments to evaluate student progress.
“Results of the program will be presented at the regional forum in October,” Ellwood noted.
In other news, the board will recognize the music and visual arts programs at Atikokan High School in its monthly recognition of excellence.
The senior band will perform for the board at the meeting.
Also tonight, the board will: •hear a verbal update regarding the progress of construction at J.W.
Walker; •vote to approve a policy regarding filtering Internet sites in schools for stakeholder consultation; •vote to approve a safe drinking water policy for stakeholder consultation; and •vote to create a reserve for computers of $100,000 in the 2003- 04 school year, to be drawn out over the next two school years for Internet service.
Because of a lack of a quorum at last month’s meeting, the board also will vote to approve items from last month’s agenda, including a modified school year calendar for 2004-05, the personnel report for February, and the average class size report.