Overall, First Nations are working toward the implementation of effective programming at the classroom, school, and provincial level, supported by mechanisms for collective support and thorough monitoring. An emphasis on First Nations language and culture learning, as well as a focus on accountability and monitoring, are integrated into all of the activities described below.
- Promoting Instructional Leadership and an Infrastructure for Teacher Support: Recognizing the importance of effective teachers and principals, the FNSA Professional Growth Process (PGP) promotes effective supervision for learning, which facilitates plans for supporting and monitoring principals’ and teachers’ professional growth.
- Facilitating Effective School Planning: The collectively managed, community-based First Nations Schools Assessment and Certification Process leads to school plans for maintaining successful programs and addressing areas for improvement over a 5-year cycle. That process also provides the basis for the landmark reciprocal tuition agreement with the Province of BC, through which the BC Ministry of Education provides full per-pupil funding for school-age students living off-reserve who are enrolled in First Nations schools, and for eligible non-status students living on reserve lands. The FNSA works closely with BC in sharing information about this opportunity, including through the provision of a Handbook that is updated annually.
- Providing Professional Development Support: A broad range of professional development events for principals and teachers are designed specifically to reflect the realities of First Nations schools. For example, the FNSA is promoting the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) approach, and a comprehensive in-school coaching initiative is organized to address issues such as literacy, language and culture, lesson delivery, and student assessment.
- Promoting Evidence-Based Decision Making: A variety of efforts are in place to promote the effective use of standardized student assessment tools to inform programming. Further, for over a decade a School Measures Project facilitated the annual collection and sharing of relevant data. That effort evolved into the Data Records and User Management System (DRUMS) – a system for managing student information at the school level and for analyzing and reporting aggregate data at the provincial level. First Nations schools also collect and report annually on specific performance indicators to inform practice and to fulfill their accountability to their parents and communities.
- Addressing the Needs of Students With Special Needs: FNESC and the FNSA take an integrated, intervention-based approach to assist schools in effectively supporting all of their learners, regardless of their needs. There is a well-developed Special Education Program.
- Promoting Partnerships for the Benefits of Schools: Ongoing collaboration with the BC Ministry of Education has resulted in an exciting new opportunity for First Nations schools in BC – the option of having their students write provincial exams. This opportunity is seen as an important recognition of the important work being done by First Nations schools in BC.
- Additional Information Sharing: In addition to the activities described above, a range of information and materials related to numerous other key issues are regularly developed and shared.