PICKERING CHRISTIAN SCHOOL
AND THE ONTARIO MINISTRY OF EDUCATION CURRICULUM
As we enter into the time of the year of school Open Houses and families looking to register their children for the next school year, we are regularly asked about our handling of the Ontario Ministry of Education Curriculum and the role it plays here at our school. PCS’s mission is to provide students with a balanced, Christ-centred education and a solid foundation for service in God’s world.
ALIGNMENT, NOT ADOPTION OF CURRICULUM
Pickering Christian School (PCS) adheres to the admonition in 1Corinthians 10:31 that “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”. This belief requires diligence and discernment of what is taught and how it is taught.
We recognize the efforts of professional educators to provide a comprehensive structure in the Ontario Ministry’s published curriculum documents. Key to understanding PCS’s relationship with the Ministry’s documents is our position to align with the expectations set out by them, not to wholeheartedly adopt them. Although this distinction may seem subtle, the importance of this difference is paramount to understanding our purpose in Christ. Alignment requires deliberate and diligent effort as we seek to continually pursue rigorous school improvement by identifying curriculum that aligns with our core spiritual, educational and emotional values and that will best lead to instructional improvement and educational excellence for our students.
True Christian education occurs when the truths of Scripture permeate the entire curriculum. This can be compared to ice cream. If you take a bowl of vanilla (core curriculum) and coat it with chocolate sauce (Biblical truth) then you have only created a dish that, if required, can have the two parts separated. The more accurate rendering of Biblical education is that the bowl is totally filled with chocolate ripple ice cream. The sauce is infused in every scoop or bite. One part cannot be separated from the other. Alignment, therefore, requires that all ingredients promote the proper formation of the end product rather than distract or negate the end result. Alignment to the Ministry’s expectations allows our school to add, subtract, reposition, and/or rewrite the documents so they align with our desire to recognize Christ’s work in creating and redeeming “all things” (John 1:3).
Standardized Testing. The term seems to send shivers down teachers, students and parents spines. So many perspectives on the benefits, the impacts, the proper way to implement and use the data. It is important for a school to develop a proper implementation and reasoning for what the data tells us and what to do with it.
For many years PCS has used the CAT-4 test (Grades 1- 8) to measure the knowledge and progress of our students in several different categories including math sense, vocabulary, reading, etc. We also added the Gates-MacGinitie Reading and Comprehension test (Grades 1-8) to add a more robust focus on our reading progression in conjunction with our F2 program.
We used these tests instead of the public board’s EQAO test because it was administrable to all grades and the results were obtained within a month of writing them. Being an independent organization, the results allowed us to evaluate our program and gave us a snapshot of the grade level knowledge of our students. This also allowed the school to evaluate the students progress and gave the Administration the time to adjust or fine tune our curriculum for the following year.
In our continued endeavour to have data that is actionable and focused on increasing our level of excellence, we have decided to pilot the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment program for Grades 4 to 8. This program would replace the current CAT- 4 test. Through our affiliation with Edvance Christian School Association, we will be joining with hundreds of other schools who are seeing great results from this assessment method. The data that is collected is used in the same school term and can positively impact the learning goals and process in real time.
These online assessments are conducted 3 times per school year (September/October, January and May) and consists of 3 tests (Reading, Language Usage and Math) for students in Grades 4-8. MAP provides a personalized assessment for each student that adapts to their learning level while they are taking the “test”.
The results from MAP provide the teachers with information showing the growth of each student over the year, regardless of what level they are working at. The information from the tests is then used to help adjust the teaching in the classroom and proactively provide support for students who may require more focus on a specific skill.
It is our hope that the continuous monitoring throughout the year, coupled with the differentiated results for each student, will allow our teachers to pinpoint areas of need and target them throughout the current school year. For this year we will continue to also administer the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Comprehension test for Grades 1 to 8. Moving into next year we will evaluate the possibility of extending the MAP testing to SK through Grade 8 and potentially dropping the Gates-MacGinitie test altogether.
Please see the link provided for more information geared for parents regarding the MAP Testing program
Here is a short list of some of my Christmas memories;
Singing in our church’s “living Christmas tree”,sneaking a peak at my gifts, waking up so early that my grandmother tried to give my sister a sleeping pill, Christmas eve Chinese food, always being together, relatives sharing Christmas dinner, feeling safe and loved, and reading the nativity narrative before gift exchanges occurred.
What do you remember? Putting up the tree? Watching Dad struggling to put up the lights? Family get togethers for snacks after Christmas Eve service?
Are you taking the time to repeat your memorable childhood experiences with your children and/or adding any new ones? Many people reminisce during this time of year and it is in those moments of thoughtful musings that we find Christmas comes alive. I’m also reminded and find peace in knowing that it’s not all the extras we normally think about surrounding Christmas that make it so special, but in the reality that this moment in time reflects on the historical salvation of mankind. The good news of the Gospel has its plan incarnated in the birth of Christ. As we all take time in creating or extending our joyous memories of this season, we pray that you will also have opportunity to praise and worship the Son of God and the gift understood through His coming, His death and resurrection for all mankind.
One of our own traditions here at PCS takes place next week. We look forward to having you join us for our PCS Family Christmas worship assembly on Wednesday Dec. 11 at 6:30pm at Forest Brook Community Church. Coming together as a community to celebrate and worship is one of our greatest highlights of the year.
Bombarded by information. That seems to be the status of every one of us that lives with or near a computer or cell phone. It has become a constant endeavour to evaluate and only open or respond to certain individuals or apps . . . as we have the time. All others usually are put in the electronic trash file called “unread”.
One area that we are always concerned with here at PCS is how we communicate, how much we communicate (content and frequency), and are our communications making it home? What is the status of your involvement with the school’s communication methods? Do you read the Wednesday Mid-week Reminder or Friday Facts email? Do you peruse the website or classroom take home sheets (paper or electronic version?). We would love any feedback that you have regarding school communications. Please feel free to respond with your comments below.
At last week’s Parent Coffee & Chat, we were able to intentionally inquire about our communication methods and understand which ones were working and which ones should be changed. The response was enlightening and productive. We will be scheduling more of these Coffee & Chat times to provide another avenue for communication. Having open lines of communication is a big part of making sure everyone is on the same page. Please continue to assist us in spreading the daily news of PCS in the best format possible.
One current change (that we were considering and subsequently confirmed out of the Coffee & Chat) is the move to a paperless class take home. For a couple of years now we have duplicated the JK to Grade 5 with a paper take home as well as an electronic version on the website. Starting as of January 1, 2020 it will no longer be sent home via paper. You will be able to continue viewing it online though. If however, you would like to continue receiving a paper copy, for the last 6 months of this school year we will honour any requests to continue sending it home as you make the adjustments. Please contact your child’s teacher and they will continue to send it home via the agenda.
We look forward to many more great conversations in the future at our Coffee & Chat times, so please keep an eye out for our next date and hopefully you can join us. It is always nice to get together and continue to build this awesome community we call “our” school.