2013-14 Community Report for Rockingstone Heights School

2013-14 Community Report for Rockingstone Heights School
At Rockingstone, the staff has used the Continuous School Improvement process to examine student
achievement and teacher practice as we focus on increasing academic success in our building. During
the last 5 years, learning and teaching have changed in our school community and a culture has been
created where education is collaborative, flexible and student centered. The 2013-2014 school year was
the last with our current plan and after presenting our results to an External Review team, we earned
“Improving School” status.
This year, we maintained our focus on improving student performance using the following strategies:
Data Collection and Analysis
While teachers reviewed all major sources of data throughout the year, particular attention was paid to
the information provided through our individualized assessment plans. These plans are created by
classroom teachers and provide support for struggling learners.
Daily Classroom Instruction
This year, we continued with our major classroom strategies of using Reading and Writing Workshops
during ELA and the three part lesson plan and parallel and open ended tasks in Math. It is also important
to note that daily classroom instruction was closely linked to the discussions in weekly Professional
Learning Community (PLC) meetings and our individualized assessment plans.
Professional Learning Communities
Classroom teachers continue to meet for an hour each week in Professional Learning Communities
(PLCs) to examine classroom data and create individualized assessment plans to support students.
These plans allow teachers to identify students who are struggling, plan specific instructional steps to
support them and assess their success on an ongoing basis.
Support Blocks
In each of the last 4 years we have used support blocks in ELA and Math classes at all grade levels. This
strategy involves having additional teachers scheduled into classes to support students during their off
blocks. The key parts of this approach are flexibility (the supporting staff member was used in a variety of
ways) and small group and one on one instruction.
Professional Development
This year, there were two main areas of focus in professional development for the staff at Rockingstone.
The first was the implementation of the new math curriculum, something our staff worked very hard on.
We also chose to shift our focus to the school’s climate this year and engage in a significant amount of
professional development on Restorative Approaches and Cultural Proficiency. These areas will remain
priorities for the coming year.
In addition to our Literacy and Numeracy goals, the staff at Rockingstone committed to improving the
school’s climate through the implementation of two additional major initiatives that we believe will have a
significant impact on student success. The initiatives are:
Restorative Approaches
As with all schools in the JL Ilsley Family, we began a journey to become a Restorative Approaches
school. The Restorative philosophy places a focus on building positive relationships and resolving conflict
in a manner that restores those relationships and values all people in the school. The result is a stronger,
more positive community where disruptive incidents are few. Teachers have embraced this philosophy
and implemented a variety of supporting classroom and school wide activities.
The Rockingstone Hub
Our vision of a “wrap around” or hub school is to create a place where the families of the children who
attend Rockingstone will find the supports and programs they need to overcome the many barriers that
confront people in this community. When we address these challenges, students will be healthier and
happier and more likely to reach their academic potential. Our partners include:
 Board Staff
 Halifax Police Department
 Schools Plus
 MSVU - Department of Education (Psychology)
 Dalhousie Faculty of Law
 Dalhousie Department of Psychiatry
 Dalhousie School of Medicine
 Family SOS
 Primary Health, IWK
 Public Health
 Chebucto Family Centre
With the support of these partners and others, we brought many programs to the school this year. For
example, in April we opened the only Early Years Centre in a school in Halifax. The Centre is a place for
children and families from ages 0-6 and provides specialized programs for infants, toddlers and their
parents. We also established a Health Center with a full time nurse and a doctor who sees patients once
a week. Recently, a pediatrician began working from the school one day a month.
It is important to note that although we earned our “Improving School” status this year, the staff at
Rockingstone recognizes that we have not completed our work. While many students have made
significant academic gains in Numeracy and Literacy, too many are not achieving in line with the Board’s
overall trends. In the 2014-2015 school year, we will undertake a full school review and identify new goals
and strategies to continue improving as a school and support our students in reaching their full academic