Central Okanagan Public Schools, District 23

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Executive summary

From an incredible initial commitment to dramatic learner results across the tenures of three superintendents, this case illustrates the power of classroom assessment to not only boost graduation rates but move forward an entire system.

The opportunity

The Central Okanagan Public School District was experiencing graduation rates of 66%. They wanted better for all of their students, especially since there is strong evidence to show that students who do not complete high school are less likely to find success. The school district wanted all students to succeed. The district was growing quickly. Building strong relationships was important to everyone.

The commitment

The commitment to dramatic, collaborative change became apparent the moment the district leadership asked to purchase all the seats to our annual connect2learning Symposium in 2006.

Although it wasn’t possible – the power of these events stems from the diversity of the participants, their individual perspectives, and their teams – Central Okanagan Public School District’s gesture signalled intent to embrace the power of classroom assessment – the power of using assessment in the service of learning.

This commitment to change continued unabated through the tenures of three superintendents, producing dramatic, ongoing results.

The journey

The Central Okanagan Public School District, like many other districts, set a goal to dramatically improve graduation rates.

Their visionary superintendent signalled a system-wide commitment to improvement, attempting to book every seat in a connect2learning’s Symposium! As this wasn’t possible, he booked half the seats – then continued to book half the seats at the Symposium for several ensuing years.

The District’s schools also worked directly with connect2learning in a planned way to support ongoing learning and change. This work spanned the tenure of three superintendents.

The results were impressive: graduation rates jumped from 66% to 80.7% over five years. Many teacher and leader participants went on to consult and support others to learn how to use assessment in the service of learning.

The learnings

  • The path to improving student results begins with using assessment in the service of educators and administrators.
  • Ongoing commitment creates momentum. If results can be demonstrated quickly, that momentum will continue – even when initial change leaders transition out.
  • Fast-growing districts can use classroom assessment as ‘glue’ to create stronger bonds between schools and educators at all levels of the system while boosting collaboration and sharing.
  • By bringing an ongoing stream of leaders and teachers to Symposiums to work together over the course of 5 years, a strong base of learning and support for positive change was achieved.

Special thanks

connect2learning is privileged to work alongside the educators of Central Okanagan Public School District as they support the learning of all students.


Like most education professionals, we have a burning desire to make a difference in the lives of learners. We started as teachers and leaders, but saw the potential to drive greater transformation by creating and sharing methodologies with other educators.

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