Program helps ‘good schools become better’: Keith
All Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) elementary schools have been given the opportunity to participate in the School Quality Assurance Program (SQAP), which is finishing its first cycle this year.
The program is on a six-year rotation and helps member schools provide quality Christian education. Currently there are 12 schools on the east side of Toronto that are participating in the program.
“It’s just so encouraging to find schools really enthusiastic about assessing where their school is at, and they are encouraged to move on and to make things even better,” says Lorna Keith, OACS director of school quality programs, adding this ties into the OACS motto helping good schools become better.
Most OACS elementary schools, with few exceptions, have participated in the program.
Schools have expressed appreciation of the program and delved into what makes their schools the way they are, says Keith.
Keith observes that schools are very interested to stay current with education trends and adopting best practices for their school. Schools have become more knowledgeable about how they should be functioning, she says.
The program spans approximately a year and half. The five areas or domains the SQAP examines are school identity, school management, academic performance, school culture and community relations (click here to read a previous story on the program).
The leadership of the principal and the school board is integral to the SQAP process, notes Keith.
The program will start its second cycle with member schools this fall. Since it started the program has evolved and will continue to change to meet the needs of schools, says Keith.
“We are excited about the way it has been well received and we’re looking to streamline it,” says Keith.
Between each school year those who work in the program — approximately 25 people including advisors, auditors and mentors in the program — meet to reflect on the year.
“We review very intensively the year and highlight things that have gone well and look at where the glitches are and we make recommendations for changes in the program,” says Keith.
“It’s been a beneficial program, I think it’s one of the major programs we offer our schools.”
After completing the SQAP a school may choose to continue with a public accreditation program from the Canadian Hallmarks Institute (CHI).
Newmarket’s Holland Marsh District Christian School and Brampton’s John Knox Christian School completed SQAP in the last round and are now looking at CHI accreditation.
OACS schools that have been accredited by Canadian Hallmarks include Immanuel Christian School in Aylmer, Chatham Christian School, Georgetown District Christian School, Calvin Christian School in Hamilton, Laurentian Hills Christian School in Kitchener, Listowel Christian School, John Knox Christian School in Oakville, Sarnia Christian School and Trenton Christian School.