Edmonton Looks to Improve on Parent Involvement Data

A report by Alberta Education shows that Edmonton parents have become slightly less involved in their children's schools over the past four years. According to the collected data, the level of involvement fell from 79.5% in 2009 to 77.8% in 2012, which puts the city a bit under the average for parental involvement levels in all of Alberta — 79.7%.

The slight decline, however, is not an indication that more parents are dissatisfied with how the school system is performing. According to Superintendent of Edmonton Public Schools Edgar Schmidt, the report showed that the quality of education provided by the district, as well as the school environment, were rated as excellent by the parents. He said that the data clearly demonstrates that parental confidence in the district is quite high.

Schmidt said, "As an education system, we know that we've got some real strengths and capabilities … and that we always have work to do to make gains and improvements in those areas we'd like to bolster."

The parental involvement numbers proved to be one of only a few areas of concern in an otherwise positive report. The number of students who met or exceeded the provincial standards in science went up from the last time the report was published, although scores in social science, mathematics and English language were lower than Alberta average. Likewise, Catholic schools outperformed public schools in the same areas, though they lagged behind in biology, chemistry and physics.

Next on the agenda is an analysis of data on the school-by-school basis to isolate which academic areas require improvement in each. The data will allow schools to tailor plans to address problems that are specific to their students.

In addition, the district is also looking for ways to encourage more public school parents to get involved, and the current goal is to match the involvement numbers of Edmonton Catholic schools where 80.7% of parents participate in school activities.

"When we look at a district as large as ours, it's important that individual schools on the ground have plans on how they're going to get parents involved, so the principals are going to be working with school councils and with their staff over the coming weeks to communicate those plans out to parents," Hoffman said. "Definitely it's an expectation we have that parents are partners in supporting the education of their children. Staff always want to work with parents to ensure their children are successful in their education."

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