New student support teams receive criticism

NANAIMO A new method of supporting students got off to a rocky start, but it will continue next year.

A new method to support students that Nanaimo school officials tried this year got off to a rocky start, but it will continue next year.

The Nanaimo school district’s new approach to helping struggling learners hinges on providing support to these students at an earlier stage – before they fail – by making teams of specialists available to teachers who request assistance in their classrooms.

The model, called response to intervention, includes three tiers of intervention – support for an entire class, a group of students or an individual student with significant needs in academic or behavioural development.

But a staff report presented at a recent board meeting acknowledges that not all district employees are jumping on board with the new model and this makes it difficult to move forward with the initiative, as it requires collaboration between all teachers, administrators and support staff.

The report notes the district has been criticized for underestimating the extent of this change and not providing educators with sufficient communication, direction or leadership, and there is skepticism about the ability of the specialist teams to discuss a referral when team members don’t know anything about the student referred.

But it also states that the implementation of the model has been more widespread than senior staff thought possible in “year zero” and those who are embracing the model are happy with the results.

Mike Ball, president of the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association, said the model was implemented at the beginning of the year with no input from or consultation with teachers and the district brought it in first, then tried to explain it to people after it was already in place.

“I think the program has some merit, but do it properly,” he said. “Apparently there was an implementation committee and no one was aware of it.”

The union surveyed teachers in January and March to determine if the model is working and many members stated they were not involved at all in the rollout of response to intervention.

Ball said the second survey’s results showed that some people had started to find the model useful, but others felt that resources were centralized and taken away from the classroom.

“To be really fair, it needs another year to see if it’s going to function,” he said. “It can only improve from here, providing resources are available.”

Ball said one change that could make a big difference is making decisions closer to the school level rather than through the district-level teams.

Jamie Brennan, school board chairman, said the district needs to improve the referral process and ensure teachers see the benefits of the initiative.

“I guess they may see it as a threat to their current practice, but it certainly isn’t,” he said.

Just Posted

A section of the rail corridor on Vancouver Island. (Black Press file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Put rail trail right overtop of the tracks

Removing tracks would be a horrendous expense, says letter writer

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Tilray announces new line of products offering more inexpensive choices for medical cannabis users. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo-based Tilray launches new medical cannabis product line

Symbios brand products offered at ‘better price point’ for medical cannabis products

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Regional District of Nanaimo is looking to repair sewage pipe in the Hammond Bay Road area, which was corroded by gas. (Black Press file)
Corroded sewer pipe along Nanaimo’s Hammond Bay Road will cost $5.5 million to fix

Pipe replacement and reinforcement part of $6.9-million infrastructure project

Most Read