Education Renewal and Innovation 5-Year Evaluation

What is the Education Renewal and Innovation 5-year Evaluation?

The Education Renewal and Innovation (ERI) Framework is a 10-year strategy focused on reshaping and improving the NWT education system, from junior kindergarten to grade 12. The initiative was launched in 2013 to improve student experiences and outcomes, improve accountability throughout the education system, and better help NWT students grow into healthy, capable people.

The end of the 2018-2019 school year marked the halfway point of ERI Framework implementation. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) evaluated the work undertaken in these first five years to see which ERI initiatives are working well, which need improvement, and which may not be relevant any longer.

For more details on the evaluation, see the following resources:

What was evaluated?

ECE evaluated a selection of nine initiatives developed in the school system since the start of ERI, as well as a long list of student outcomes to see how student performance and experiences at school are being affected by ERI efforts.

The programs evaluated under the ERI strategy were:

  • Residential School Awareness Training
  • Child and Youth Care Counsellors and Northern Therapeutic Counselling Services
  • Strengthening Teacher Instructional Practices
  • Northern Distance Learning
  • Health and wellness curriculum
  • Our Languages curriculum
  • Career Focusing
  • Systemic assessment practices
  • Reporting requirements

Programs were chosen based on evaluation readiness, including the maturity of the initiative, the availability of program data, programs invested with numerous resources, and public and internal interest in the results.

What were the results?

Results of the evaluation give a snapshot of the state of the NWT education system. Evaluators found encouraging results and early successes in a number of areas, while also identifying where additional work is needed to address remaining gaps in student achievement and outcomes, especially in small communities. Their findings recommend continuing a number of promising programs and further assessing others to potentially adjust their approach for better student outcomes.

    How will the results be used?

    How we deliver quality education in the NWT is critical for ensuring the development of healthy, capable northerners, and is a responsibility we share with communities, families, students, GNWT departments, Indigenous governments, education leaders and other partners. ECE will continue to build on encouraging results and early successes related to student achievement, well-being and engagement, while strengthening our efforts to address remaining gaps in student achievement and outcomes, especially for our smallest communities.

    The results of the evaluation will be essential in informing how ECE continues to work with education partners, leaders and experts to improve experiences and outcomes for students in every community of the NWT. These results will help to shape changes to education renewal and innovation over the next five years to ensure continued improvements to student outcomes in the NWT.

    What are the recommended next steps?

    The results of the evaluation will be used to inform and prioritize the Action Plan to Improve Student Outcomes, the second five-year action plan which will be developed in collaboration with our partners and used to guide how we move forward with improving student outcomes in the territory. Among these next steps, the evaluation recommends prioritizing the following areas:

    • Small communities – The evaluation recommends revising our ERI goals to make small communities a greater priority. This includes potentially revising our funding approach to increase supports for community schools, and working more closely with Indigenous governments on initiatives that will better support our students.
    • Mental health and wellness supports – Initiatives such as Child and Youth Care Counsellor program have shown promising results in providing health and wellness supports to students and communities. The evaluation recommends these be continued alongside additional measures to improve well-being.
    • Innovative curriculum development – Based on evaluation findings, there should be continued support for the unique and well-received Indigenous languages curriculum at all levels, as well as the new health and wellness curriculum.
    • Teacher training and development – Findings from the evaluation indicate ECE should continue to focus on training and development for teachers to support their work within a northern context.
    • Use of AATs – Low participation in AATs means these tests don’t provide an accurate or meaningful understanding of student success in the NWT. The evaluation recommends their usefulness as an assessment tool be reexamined.
    • Enhanced supports for students in grades 10 to 12 – Some of the achievement measures show that many students in grades 10 to 12 are not receiving the supports they need to pass their courses and finish school within a timeframe that suits them. Changes to the high school system and approach are coming through the introduction of High School Pathways in the 2019-2020 school year. These changes should be carefully monitored and reported to ensure their effectiveness.
    • Alignment with ERI foundations – Moving forward, more emphasis should be placed on ensuring all new JK-12 initiatives are in line with the foundational statements and goals of the ERI Framework.
    • Continued monitoring and evaluation should be carried out for the JK-12 education system to determine if our efforts are improving student outcomes.