Monday, 28 November 2011

Grade 12 Diploma Exams: Just a Point...of View

Credit is due to our Minister of Education. Thomas Lucaszuk, is stepping up in true PC style and showing Albertans what it looks like when our Government says there will be change. We will listen, we will discuss, we will make the decision that is right for Albertans. Those decisions will be pragmatic and fiscally minded, no doubt. This kind of transparency can only produce a level of ownership from stakeholders that will make our Education System a herald among jurisdictions.

I sent out a reply to our Minister tonight and thought I'd add my comments to the article in the Calgary Herald on Grade 12 Diploma Exams. Here is my FB comment in reply to our Minister's request for feedback on Standardized tests nationwide:

There is an importance to be placed on the value of diploma results to inform our practice: they offer appropriate feedback to teachers for assessing taught and learned outcomes, standardized tests allow for educators to reflect on their practice, for schools to set goals towards improvement, jurisdictions can demonstrate accountability etc...the question is the weight of the diploma and whether an exam which is worth 50% of a students' grade 12 mark is truly valid and they measure what a student has learned and are these results reliable over time. basic research elements.

What are these exams truly for? If it for accountability, then let's create exams that reflect that. We are often funded based on results and what these results show ie: class size does not impact test results at the grade 6 level=less funding for class size contingency teachers. I would argue that the standardized tests, as they are currently designed show more about measuring accountability and therefore dollars are contingent upon good results. If truly we want to measure and place value on what a child has learned, that ought to be done with an emphasis placed on formative rather summative assessment. (At this point, I accidentally pressed RETURN...of course as an educator, I was horrified that I might find a spelling mistake...and I did!)

So, now, I will create the rest of a reply in this blog. It will be brief (ish) and I'll try to keep the teacher speak to a minimum...

Currently, our children in grade 12 write a Standardized Diploma exam in each of the core subjects. It is worth 50% of their final mark. Those are some pretty interesting odds and there are few gambles in life that are worth that kind of pay out or loss. But, most importantly, are they really worth the they really measure Post Secondary preparadeness? Do they really measure what our children have learned when true learning can only be shown over time by way of siginificant concepts? As educators if we are not constantly asking ourselves "How will I know they have learned", we are missing the point. That question leads us to reflection on our practice in the classroom and helps us sharpen our teaching tools. It allows us to assess student knowledge at a given time, to differentiate for the individual and to foster engagement and interest within our students.

Todays teacher is up against some pretty steep has changed the way our children gain knowledge. Do our standardized tests reflect that? In the age of the "Google Effect" where it's no longer necessary to know historical facts, isn't it presumptuous to assume that a multiple choice test is really an important factor in discerning between the 17year old who is ready for University or not. Does anyone remember the AC/DC formula?

Now, I don't profess to know the answer as to how to measure knowledge via a set standard. But, I do believe there is a way to get closer to it than we are. I'm feeling refreshingly optimistic that with the open minded and transparent approach of our Government, we might very well be able to lead the country towards this standard. And that is not only levelling the playing field for our children who seek post secondary studies. It also gives them more choice of institutions to attend.

I'd love to hear about your views...How will I know they have learned?

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Official Announcement! November 22, 2011

A letter to our Constituents

November 27, 2011

Dear Calgary-Currie Constituent,

I would like to thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me regarding the upcoming Provincial election. I appreciate the support and encouragement you have given me as I seek the nomination to run as the Progressive Conservative candidate for Calgary Currie. I would be honoured if you would support me at the nomination vote on January 28th, 2012 so that I may run in our next election and become your new MLA.

Albertans like you are hopeful and confident that we are at the threshold of achieving national and global recognition because of the exemplary lifestyle we possess.

While visiting your neighborhood, we've discussed that our province is rich in resources, environmental responsiveness and quality of life. At the same time, our conversations have led us to discuss the belief in the ability of our government to manage social programs and promote the private sector in a democratic, practical manner. We are truly on the verge of a historic reshaping of what stakeholders expect from their provincial leaders.

In listening to your individual stories, I have heard the need for transparency, democratic consultation, responsible spending, health care reform, as well as a serious plan to be accountable and ethical to Albertans who access health services. I believe that together, you and I can bring Premier Redford's newly laid plans to fruition.

There are two realities about politics. The first is that politicians want to fulfill the needs and requests of their constituents. The second is that our leader must be a responsible, practical decision maker who remains in touch with all stakeholders and balances services with revenues democratically. With your help, I can offer Calgary-Currie constituents a voice within the Alberta Legislature that will resonate with the issues and concerns that belong to you. Our 40 year success as a PC Party is because as Albertans, we have shaped and re-shaped our government throughout the changing times. We are at the beginning of yet another era in Alberta that will undoubtedly launch us onto the global stage. Let's do this together.

I have had the opportunity to serve as an educator for the past 16 years for Calgary Catholic School District. I received a Bacheliere en Education (B.ed) from the University of Alberta's Faculte Saint Jean. I have taught students in elementary and junior high in regular and French Immersion settings. I achieved a Master's Degree in Counselling Psychology in 1998 from the University of Gonzaga. Not long after, I realized that school administration would allow me to have an influence in ensuring that all children receive instruction that is as differentiated as they are themselves. In my work as administrator, I have been successful within the schools by listening to the needs of the community. In doing so, I have created strong relationships that have enabled me to pursue and achieve clearly laid out visions. I am a strategic leader, an agent of change, a tenacious believer in defending hopes and a maker of success stories. My interest in activities like running, cycling and swimming has led me to train for and compete in triathlons, marathons and other events to raise funds for a variety of organizations. I am an active member of St. Michael's Parish and have served in the music ministry for 7 years. I am a dedicated mother and a daughter of aging parents. I have had the privilege of advocating on behalf of my family within the school system and within our health care system. I understand the need for compassion in working with people who are searching for solutions to difficult questions.

All these experiences have led me to believe that I advocate best by listening, networking, and using proven communication and leadership skills to inquire, find answers and take action. It is because of these experiences that I can be a responsive, dedicated and effective Member of the Legislative Assembly.

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to know more about how you can become involved in my nomination campaign or if you'd like to learn more about my potential as your new MLA.

Very Sincerely,

 Christine Cusanelli 

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The Welcome from Westgate

WWW! Westgate+ Wildwood = Welcoming communities I have spent the last couple of days knocking on doors and meeting folks in the Westgate and Wildwood communities.  I had a feeling they would prove to be as amazing as the families who attend the school where I serve as a Principal since this happens to be in the same area. True to that prediction, they are the example of down to earth people who like to discuss their histories in these two longstanding neighborhoods.  I met a number of couples who are the original owners of their homes in Wildwood.  Some showed me photos of their beautiful gardens and others talked about the longstanding positive impact that our PC government has had on Alberta.  At the same time, they talked openly of their concerns about the"change" that is needed.  Nonetheless, they are committed to an openness for the change that Premier Redford has been initiating.  This has become the trademark of hope for Albertans residing in Wildwood and Westgate it seems.  Many constituents let me know that my association to the PC party as a proven professional and a women in her late 30's represents the "new face of politics". Other interesting issues and concerns about the environment and conservation of the nearby natural areas popped up in conversation.  At the same time, others told me of some of their struggles having their interests heard regarding offroading Associations.  I also listened to other challenges that some constituents faced with finding suitable placement for their aging parents in assisted living facilities.  I learned that these people are concerned not just for their own parents, but for the future of other elderly residents who may face not having a place to care for them in the not so distant future. I'm convinced that the Calgary-Currie constituents of Wildwood and Westgate are a powerful group who are not only concerned about their individual needs but also about the overall needs of all Albertans.  These communities have expressed an intelligence of current issues and the importance of pragmatic solutions.  They are a caring and so open to relationship building. I am mightily encouraged by their frankness and strong support of my nomination.  Thank you Westgate and Wildwood!  I would be honoured to have the opportunity to serve as your new MLA. I hope you will put January 28th on your calendars and be there to support me on nomination day! Posted by Christine Cusanelli at 21:36 Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook

November Blog

More thoughts from Westgate...
I was out today making my way through the community of Westgate.  This is a neighbourhood that has a wonderful connectedness.  There is a sense of people who care about and for one another.  They are the stuff that all communities should be made of.  We were invited in to sit down with people who have lived in Westgate for 20, 30, 40 years.  We met many children of parents who now live down the block from one another or were simply visiting their parents and had wonderful thoughts to share.

The pervasive message is that people are very satisfied with Alison Redford's leadership.  Westgate people are PC vets who have been around long enough to understand that our province is very much about the ebb and flow that characterizes a boom, bust province.  They expressed an understanding and interest in the need to balance a province's private sector's gains with it's public sector's needs.  These people talk about the importance of  creating the best health care access and education systems by yes, offering appropriate funding but also, by using that funding efficiently.  This, according to the Hospital Porter I spoke with means  consulting the people who work in the hospitals themselves to gain insight as to how and where money could be saved.  I spoke with a Health Region Consultant who shared her thoughts on funding in areas that would help us save over the long run by being pro-active.  She agrees with Premier Redford's focus on prevention which is less costly than treatment.  She suggested specifics such as addictions prevention and a government policy on nutrition.  She also suggested finding ways to reduce disparities for such things as aboriginal health since we know this population is growing 4-10 times faster than any other.  I also found another off roader who explained the importance of outdoor enthusiasts using natural areas ethically when driving (and carefully maintaining) motorized off roading vehicles.  He shared with me that it is important to have designated trails to preserve the environment and spoke about his belief in the principles of an organization called Treadlightly!  Treadlightly! works in partnership with others to promote and protect access for motorized vehicles while instilling an ethical responsibility in outdoor enthusiasts.  I'm curious to learn more about the balance between preservation and appreciation. How do we preserve responsibly while supporting the right to appreciate and learn about our beautiful province?
Posted by Christine Cusanelli at 19:43
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Can premier's olive branch bring peace and prosperity?

Can premier's olive branch bring peace and prosperity?

When Alison Redford won the leadership, I wonder if she knew she was about to change the face of Alberta. We are now on the threshold not only of great things provincially and nationally but, globally as well. It should be sinking in, as Braid has said that we are, along with our new Premier, a province of an entirely new order.

We are Albertan...that is going to be an image painted to the rest of the world on an entirely new canvas.