School board project to be duplicated

A pilot program conducted in schools in the Rainy River District and aimed at helping students of Aboriginal heritage succeed in school has been proven effective and will be replicated in eight district school boards and ten district school authorities in the Thunder Bay region.
The project, called “Learning to Age 18,” was conducted by the Rainy River District School Board with 24 students of Aboriginal heritage in Grades 7-10 from Feb. 15 to June 15, 2004. The project was funded by the Ministry of Education through the Northwestern Ontario Education Leaders (NOEL).
“In the program, students received one-to-one support in literacy development for forty minutes per day over a period of 15-20 weeks,” noted Ian Simpson, assistant superintendent of education, in his report to the board. “The program involved parents of the students in home assignments.”
After the program was completed, the students were tested.
“Results indicated that each student in the program improved by one to two grade levels in reading and writing,” Simpson noted in his report. “The students, their regular classroom teachers, the parents and the instructors were surveyed. Responses were virtually unanimous in an endorsement for the success of the program.”
In January of this year, the ministry announced it would support the program with an additional $1.5 million in funding, to allow the project to be replicated in the Thunder Bay region.
“The program will be implemented over semester two from February to June 2005,” Simpson noted.
The final results will be made available to all boards in Ontario.
“In the Rainy River District, there are 11 educational assistants working with about 60 Grade 7-10 students,” the report reads. “The program has been implemented at Rainy River High School, Donald Young, Crossroads, J.W. Walker, Fort Frances High School, Robert Moore School and Atikokan High School.”
Students of Aboriginal heritage make up 15-20 percent of the student population in Northwestern Ontario, but form more than 50 percent of students designated “at risk” of dropping out of school.
Also at tonight’s meeting, the board will:
•recognize Nestor Falls School for using the Learning Through the Arts program to write songs about their local community;
•recognize educational support personnel through their REACH (Recognizing Excellence and Consistent High Quality); and,
•recognize the accomplishments of students during the Sunset Country Regional Science Fair.

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