Learning Services is an amalgamation of the former Curriculum & Instruction and Student Services departments in Peace River School Division. As we move forward with the transformation of education in Alberta, the amalgamation is a logical next step as these two former departments continue to work very closely together. The union of these two departments will help to streamline supports and services within a Response to Intervention model, focusing on classroom instruction and supports for all students. This department is supervised by the Assistant Superintendent of Learning Services, Janet Mayer.
Who Does What?
Within a Response to Intervention (RTI) model-(see Figure 1 below), Teaching & Learning personnel work mostly in the area of core instruction and assessment for all students. Within core instruction, there may be universal, targeted, and specialized instruction, (also referred to as differentiated instruction), as well as universal and targeted Level A1 assessment. Universal, core instruction may include flexible grouping of students within the classroom in order to provide the targeted and specialized instruction that some students might need. The Teaching & Learning team also supports changes to the classroom environment to assist with differentiated instruction (e.g. Literacy Centres).
Learning Supports personnel, on the other hand, work primarily with school personnel to support programs that utilize evidence-based, targeted and specialized interventions to meet the needs of students who have been identified through ongoing assessment (Level A1 assessments, but may also include Level B2 and Level C3 assessments) as having specific programming needs. Within an RTI model, targeted and specialized supports and interventions are provided in addition to, not instead of, core instruction. Most targeted programs can be delivered within the classroom, with a few exceptions. Specialized interventions may include direct and explicit teaching of particular skills that students may be lacking.
A very small number of students in our school division require specialized, modified programs which are developed and supported by an identified school-based Learning Support Team (which includes parents) and divisional resources. Due to the severity of the needs of these students, there should be regularly scheduled meetings to discuss action plans and progress for each student throughout the year. Specialized programs may take place within a regular classroom setting or in an alternative setting, depending on the nature of the activities. The goal is to include students with specialized needs with their peers as much as possible.
As noted above, some Learning Services personnel work across the continuum from universal to specialized (e.g. Early Learning and Youth Support Coordinators, Youth Workers, Success Coaches, Mentor Coach, Learning Technology Coach), while other team members work within the universal area only (Learning Coaches) and others work mostly within the targeted and specialized areas (Divisional I-Coaches).
Response to Intervention
Over the last two years, Peace River School Division has been exploring Response to Intervention and various models have been implemented in schools across the district. Work will continue with Response to Intervention in the 2014-2015 school year with professional learning opportunities for administrators and I-Coaches. During the 2014-2015 school year, school administrators and I-Coaches will work with divisional personnel to define and refine a Response to Intervention model for Peace River School Division. Many schools are seeing success with initial implementation of RTI models and we want to continue to work together to share successes and address some of the challenges that we've encountered.
The Learning Services department provides personnel and resources to assist teachers with effective instructional practices, interventions and strategies to support student engagement, achievement and success. The primary goal is to address the diverse learning needs of each student in Peace River School Division.
Learning Services works collaboratively with school administrators and school-based I-Coaches to ensure that the learning needs of each student are being addressed and supported. Please identify an administrator at your school who will work collaboratively with the school-based I-Coach and divisional personnel to oversee programming for students in your school. See the Alberta Education, Supporting Every Student website, for more information: http://education.alberta.ca/admin/supportingstudent/instructionalsupports.aspx.
1Level A Assessments-No formal training in testing is required, but the minimum qualifications for using Level A assessments include four years teacher education inclusive of a Bachelor's degree, experience working within school systems (as a teacher and/or consultant), familiarity with topic being assessed, able to follow administration procedures set out in manual, and informal training (e.g. inservice) in the use of a particular instrument.
2Level B Assessments-Formal training in testing is required. Minimum qualifications include four years teacher education inclusive of a Bachelor's degree, experience working within school systems (as a teacher and/or consultant), senior undergraduate or graduate coursework in test principles (reliability, validity, test construction, norm groups, types of scores), administration and interpretation, training in specific area related to test, and experience administering and interpreting test.
3Level C Assessments-These are restricted tests requiring professional qualifications beyond what is required for Level A and Level B assessments. Minimum qualifications include four years teacher education inclusive of a Bachelor's degree; experience working within school systems (as a teacher and/or consultant); recognized Master's degree with a major in special education or educational psychology, including graduate coursework in test principles (reliability, validity, test construction, norm groups, types of scores), and graduate coursework in administering and interpreting individual tests; and fulfill any additional requirements as stipulated by the test publisher being necessary or desirable for administration of each particular test instrument. In addition, "It is expected that individuals administering and interpreting Level C tests will be eligible for registration as a Chartered Psychologist with the Psychologists Association of Alberta.”
Reference: Standards for Psychoeducational Assessment, Alberta Education, 1994.