Prairie South committed to early learning: Meyer

Nathan Liewicki
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Division to reinstate full-time Early Learning Consultant

The Prairie South School Division (PSSD) is paying attention to fall 2013 results from a mandatory provincial evaluation, said Superintendent of Learning Lori Meyer.

Prairie South School Division Superintendent of Learning Lori Meyer listens as an agenda item is discussed at a school board meeting in February 2014. Times-Herald file photo

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education conducted an assessment with kindergarten schools from Nov. 4-21, 2013 in PSSD schools.

Included among the data shown in the assessment’s demographic profile was the number of children assessed, the average age of both boys and girls as of Sept. 1, 2013, as well as the number of schools, teachers and classrooms who participated.

Referred to as the Early Years Evaluation-Teacher Assessment (EYE-TA), it was delivered by Meyer at Tuesday’s PSSD board meeting.

The EYE-TA provides a systematic framework teachers can use to structure their frequent observations and informal assessments of students in play-based learning environments.

Essentially, it examines five specific aspects of early childhood development. They are: awareness of self and environment; social skills and approaches to learning; cognitive skills; fine motor skills and gross motor skills.

Overall, Prairie South kindergarten students faired quite well.

However, cognitive skills were the area students experienced the most challenges. Of the 467 children assessed, 131 experienced some difficulty and 27 experienced significant difficulty with their cognitive skills.

“Kids that were yellow and red-flagged in some of those areas will be reassessed in May and if through that reassessment they haven't grown like we would have expected them to through a high-quality program, then we begin to address it with a little bit more assertiveness,” Meyer told the Times-Herald Wednesday.

The lower numbers in cognitive skills are partially attributable to the division being forced to reduce the employment of the Early Learning Consultant (ELC) over the last couple of years.

According to Meyer, budget implications were the reason for that reduction.

“With everything that's coming out from the ministry now so focused on early learning, the demand in that area is just continuing to grow and we need more support centrally,” she said.

As such, Meyer has recommended the division bring back the ELC to the equivalent of full-time employment. The ELC would thus be able to spend more time in classrooms helping improve the early learning of students in the division.

“Our board is very committed to early learning and we want to make sure we provide quality programming,” Meyer said. “So, that's one of the ways we can ensure that happens.”

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: Early Learning Consultant, Prairie South School Division, EYE-TA Ministry of Education PSSD board Times-Herald

Geographic location: Saskatchewan

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