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Catholic board’s data system highlighted

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FORT FRANCES—The Northwest Catholic District School Board was updated on the Managing Information for Student Achievement initiative (MISA) at its regular meeting Tuesday night.

Cindy Glavish, the board’s manager of Information Systems and MISA co-leader, explained this ministry initiative—now in its third and final year of funding—aims to have in place a centralized Student Management System to collect and store all relevant data pertaining to students, such as biographical, achievement, attendance, and assessment information.

“It will have records with all pertinent information about the students,” Glavish told board members, adding that information would include who the student is, where they live, what bus they take, who their teachers are, what classes they are taking, when they are absent or late, and if they have any special needs.

She stressed they are ensuring the information is viewed only by authorized individuals.

“We want to ensure we have clean, complete, and accurate data that will help improve student outcome,” she explained.

Glavish noted when they first began the initiative, they didn’t have a centralized Student Management System in place, so the first step was to install the necessary hardware and software, and begin collecting the data.

From there, work recently was completed to increase the use of the centralized student management system, as well as the data holdings, in order to met the objects of the initiative.

In Term 3 of the 2006/07 school year, a module was put in place to allow for the collection and storage of elementary report cards (achievement data). And recently, a module to allow for the collection and storage of student assessments was installed.

In addition, through the board’s partnership with the eight school boards in the region, it was able to purchase a local analysis and reporting tool, which allows for the transfer of elemental data on a nightly basis from the student management system to the data warehouse.

“It’s a wonderful application,” Glavish enthused. “It will assist in garnering information for teachers and administration to make decisions and long-range plans to improve student outcomes.”

She indicated without the partnership, the board would not have been able to purchase the tool.

“We’re very excited. . . . Now we can see how well students are doing and what we need to do to help them,” Glavish said. “It’s all about using data for school improvement.”

Over the next few years, said Glavish, MISA will continue to move forward, and added the school board is in a good position to move forward, as well.

“During the journey, we have experienced everything from frustrating to excitement,” she remarked.

“But the board is on the cusp of building capacity in the evidence-informed, decision-making culture, to create and modify program to improve student outcomes, including the necessary technology supports available to all levels.”

Although funding for the initiative will cease March 31 and the board will not have reached 100 percent capacity by then, Glavish noted they will bend the ear of the ministry and encourage them to fund MISA for another three years.

“We have a lot of data in there,” she said, adding they’ll have all student data, but not educator, facility, or financial data.

Trustee John Borst of Dryden requested data samples to better understand the system, which Glavish said could be provided at a subsequent meeting.

Also at last night’s meeting, the local Catholic board:

•discussed a new auditing approach with Don Yurkiw of BDO Dunwoody;

•highlighted some school projects meant to engage parents;

•heard points from the director’s report;

•passed a motion that the supplement to the Northwest Catholic District School Board Strategic Plan was received;

•reviewed the EQAO report, enrolment report, and staffing report; and

•heard of several student achievement initiatives.

The board’s next regular monthly meeting is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 20.

(Fort Frances Times)

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