First Nation Student Success Program – National Program Guidelines 2017-2018

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

The Government of Canada's overarching goal is to provide First Nation students with quality education that provides them with the opportunity to acquire the skills needed to enter the labour market and be full participants in a strong Canadian economy. To help meet this goal, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is continually seeking new ways to enable First Nation educators to deliver the best possible programs for First Nation children and youth. The First Nation Student Success Program (FNSSP) will enable First Nations to enhance their students' learning experience and improve student and school results. In particular, the Program's components will help First Nation educators to plan and make improvements in the three priority areas of literacy, numeracy and student retention.

The purpose of this document is to describe the FNSSP components, the proposal process and the roles and responsibilities of successful applicants.

The FNSSP is designed to support First Nation educators on reserve (kindergarten to grade 12) in their ongoing efforts to meet their students' needs and improve student and school results. The three components are: school success plans, student learning assessments and performance measurement. It is important to note that the Program supports not just the development, but also the implementation of each component at the school level. As a package, these components will help schools to assess and track how their students are performing, and to plan and make improvements in literacy, numeracy and student retention. The Program will also help to reinforce the ongoing efforts for continuous improvement that many schools are now undertaking in some or all of these activities.

The 2016-2017 Call for Proposals approved two year projects. As indicated in the funding section (section 10), funding is provided in the form of a Set contribution. All recipients that were approved in the 2016-2017 call will be notified in December 2016 of their funding amount for the second year of their proposal. Continued funding is dependent on program recipients achieving their targets and having demonstrated progress in addressing the three key priorities of the school success plan components.

Effective 2017-2018, Structural Readiness can now be found under the Education Partnerships Program.   

2. Glossary of FNSSP Terms

This table lists terms used in the FNSSP.
Term Definition
Applicant An entity that applies for FNSSP funding
Aggregate A First Nation organization that provides educational services to a group of band-operated First Nation schools
Regional First Nation Organization
Recipient An entity that has been authorized to receive an FNSSP contribution or one that has received the contribution
School An entity that receives services from a given Aggregate or Regional First Nation Organization
Community
Work Plan The term work plan refers to the Activities Planned and Expected Results section of the proposal template.
Early Literacy An FNSSP program component to provide additional investments in early literacy (Kindergarten to Grade 3).

3. Objective

The Program's overall objective is to improve the achievement of First Nation students on reserve through the implementation of school success plans, student learning assessments, and performance measurement systems focusing on the priority areas of literacy, numeracy and student retention.

The Program's components work together to achieve this overall objective. The results of the student learning assessments and other information will help schools identify needs, targets and activities to improve results in the areas of literacy, numeracy and retention. Student learning assessments will also provide data for performance measurement, which will in turn generate reports on results for students, families, communities and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

4. Program Components

4.1 School Success Plans

The aim of this Program component is to introduce a consistent and comprehensive school success planning process, and to support the development and implementation of the activities outlined within the school success plans. The plan must focus on the three priority areas of literacy, numeracy and student retention.

A school success plan is a multi-year strategy that sets out the goals, activities and targets, with timelines, intended to improve student achievement levels. It also describes how and when these activities will occur.

The school success plan process is a two-year continuous improvement cycle. Apart from an initial assessment and planning phase in the first year (as required), educators are expected to carry out all elements annually, including assessment, plan development/revision, implementation, measurement and reporting.

For schools that already have a school success plan and process underway, the Program will allow for a transition to meet the requirements of the new guidelines under the three priority areas.

Program recipients have two options when preparing their school plan and process:

  • the adoption of the respective provincial school success planning model with a focus on the three priority areas of literacy, numeracy and student retention; or
  • the development of their own school success plan focusing on the three priority areas.

For both options, the school success plan and process must meet all Program requirements as described in Annex A: Detailed Program Requirements. Examples of activities eligible for funding in the three priority areas can also be found in Annex A.

4.2 Student Learning Assessments

The purpose of student learning assessments is to gather information to support the school success planning process. The results of student learning assessments are used to identify areas to be targeted for improvement. Results are aggregated at the provincial and national levels to measure and report on progress and outcomes.

At a minimum, schools will participate in their respective provincial standard testing process. Schools may also choose to use standardized tests recognized by the provincial Ministry of Education, such as Canadian Achievement Test (CAT) and Canadian Test of Basic Skills (CTBS).

FNSSP will support First Nation schools in selecting and implementing the appropriate student achievement testing tools.

4.3 Performance Measurement

The purpose of the Performance Measurement component is to support a First Nation school's ability to monitor the progress of students, manage school and program-related information, and make it easier to gather, analyze and report on financial and performance indicators.

The key elements of performance measurement include:

  • School and student performance improvement goals and targets as identified in school success plans.
  • Performance indicators: performance measurement identifies indicators to measure success and progress towards the goals of literacy, numeracy, student retention and other goals as identified in the school success plan. Educators may develop a variety of indicators. However, at a minimum, the following core indicators will be included and tracked: monthly attendance rate, number of teaching days, graduation rate, drop-out rate, and literacy and numeracy standardized test results. These core indicators may evolve or change over the course of the Program based on consultation with Program recipients, and ongoing research into best practices and comparisons with provincial outcomes.
  • A school data system selected from one of the following three options:
    • Modification of a system currently used by a First Nation or group of First Nation schools that meets the requirements set out in Annex A: Detailed Program Requirements;
    • Purchase by a First Nation or group of First Nation schools of an appropriate expandable commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) education data management system that meets the requirements set out in Annex A: Detailed Program Requirements; and
    • Adoption of the respective provincial data management system, modified to add First Nation-specific indicators and data.
  • Data analysis and reporting functions: each Program recipient will establish processes for the analysis, roll-up and reporting of performance information to students, families, communities and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. This information will address the objectives, indicators, targets, activities and results related to literacy, numeracy and student retention, on a school or aggregated basis as appropriate.

4.4 Early Literacy

**OPTIONAL**

Under Early Literacy, applicants can undertake activities focused specifically on students from Kindergarten to Grade 3. New funding can be used to create new activities or supplement activities already underway. These activities should complement any literacy strategies included in the school success planning component and may focus on activities such as one-on-one or group interventions and/or assessments for children from Kindergarten to Grade 3, etc. These are all one time or time-limited activities.

See Annex A: Detailed Program Requirements.

5. Eligible Recipients

On an exceptional basis, First Nation Band Councils and Federal Schools that are not in receipt of any services, support or funding from any Regional First Nation Organization may be eligible for FNSSP funding. Independent First Nations, however, are encouraged to form aggregates, or join one, in order to facilitate efficient, effective service delivery and economies of scale.

Note that a school may only receive FNSSP services from one regional First Nation organization.

It should be clear in the proposal that the Regional First Nation organization is not acting strictly as a flow-through to either member or non-member organizations. The recipient First Nation organization may not issue an internal Call for Proposals for activities which they will fund with their FNSSP funding.

6. Eligible Expenditures

6.1 Eligible Expenditures

It is important for all applicants to note that the Program supports both the development of plans and activities, and their implementation.

Eligible expenditures include, but are not limited to, expenditures related to program development and implementation costs, support and coordination, management, and reporting for school success plans, student learning assessments and performance measurement, such as:

  • Salaries and benefits for an FNSSP project manager.
  • Salaries and benefits for education or technical professionals or paraprofessionals to carry out FNSSP activities.
  • Fees for professional advisors or consultants to provide professional services related to FNSSP activities.
  • Travel costs within Canada for eligible participants incurred as a direct result of participating in FNSSP activities.

Note for recipients:Travel expenses are to be claimed at actual cost, but cannot exceed Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's guidelines as specified in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat's Travel Directive in effect at the time of travel. Expenses which exceed the rates set for in the Directive will not be paid.

  • Software purchases and licensing fees, and IT equipment purchases related to the implementation of the program, repairs and maintenance related to school data systems.

Note for recipients: Proposals seeking information technology resources must be accompanied by a technology implementation plan to ensure that requests are an effective part of a comprehensive technology strategy.

  • Purchases of education or research/reference products, tools or materials such as standardized testing instruments and training resources.
  • Administration costs that must not exceed 10% of the sub-total amount requested before administration costs. The program's Data Collection Instrument (DCI) will automatically calculate the amount. ONLY those costs associated with the FNSSP project are eligible, including:
    • office supplies;
    • IT equipment;
    • telecommunications with the exception of community connectivity infrastructure as outlined in Section 6.2;
    • office accommodation rent/lease;
    • clerical support;
    • the collection, maintenance, and reporting of data and information in accordance with program and financial reporting requirements; and
    • costs associated with ensuring that personal information is appropriately managed and safeguarded during its collection, retention, use, disclosure, and disposal.

Note: Further distribution of funds by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's funding recipients: When a funding recipient further transfers, to a Third Party, funds that were received under this program, the 10% allowed for administration costs must be divided between the parties, as agreed to between the parties. The total administration costs retained by all parties must not exceed 10% of the sub-total amount requested before administration costs.

6.2 Ineligible Expenditures

Ineligible expenditures include, but are not limited to:

  • Construction, operation and maintenance of federal and band-operated school facilities and other community assets (infrastructure).
  • Development of new software (i.e. development of new, non-prebuilt software rather than the customization of a commercial off- the- shelf (COTS) solution).
  • Expenditures dedicated exclusively to high-cost special needs students and eligible under the High Cost Special Education Program.
  • Ongoing activities of the organization (e.g. administration costs that are not directly associated with the FNSSP).
  • Duplication of funding for the same activity under two different Education programs (e.g. New Paths for Education and the FNSSP).
  • Community connectivity infrastructure (e.g. Points of Presence, fibre optics, transfer stations and satellite dishes).
  • Costs related to the implementation of full-day kindergarten from half-day kindergarten.
  • Any pre-school educational activities (e.g. Head Start, Early Childhood Education and daycare).
  • Costs for the translation of curriculum materials into a First Nation language.
  • Modifications to provincial standardized tests.

It should be clear in the proposal that the Regional First Nation organization is not acting strictly as a flow-through to either member or non-member organizations. The recipient First Nation organization may not issue an internal Call for Proposals for activities which they will fund with their FNSSP funding.

7. Commitment Letters/Community Support

Regional First Nation Organizations are required to provide commitment letters from each community identifying the school or schools participating in their project. A sample letter is available on the First Nation Student Success Program page.

Should Regional First Nation Organizations choose to use their own letter, it must at minimum, contain the following:

8. Responsibilities of FNSSP Recipients

Regional First Nation organizations will:

9. Proposal Process

Submission of Proposals
Only proposals submitted in electronic proposal form issued by INAC will be considered for assessment. Applications (proposals) are to be submitted to the relevant INAC regional office.

Refer to the proposal form and the attached instructions for application details. Incomplete proposals will be returned to applicants.

The information required in the proposal is available in the Reporting Guide. Recipients who have access to the INAC Services Portal can access the proposal form by opening a session on the Portal. If you do not have access to the Portal, contact your regional office.

Please note there is no call for proposals in 2017-2018 as the previous call in 2016-2017 approved two-year projects.

Assessment Process and Criteria
All proposals will be assessed nationally on their merits, in accordance with the following proposal assessment criteria:

Note: Returning applicants will need to demonstrate in the ‘'Current State / Statement of Need'' section of the proposal form that they met the program objective, and identify achievements of their previous FNSSP project.

The number of submissions funded depends on the strength and quantity of submissions and the funds available each year.

10. Funding

To qualify for funding, Regional First Nation Organizations must ensure that all their participating schools are implementing all three components of the Program: school success plans, student learning assessments and performance measurement.

Funding will be provided in the form of a two-year Set contribution.

FNSSP does not employ a regional/per capita based model to determine funding. Each proposal is judged independently and on its own merits. Funding levels are determined by the strength, feasibility and cost effectiveness of the approved submissions. While there is no fixed minimum or maximum amount of funding per applicant, amounts are determined taking into account factors such as the number of schools and students participating, geographic location (isolation), total funding available.

Continued funding is dependent on program recipients achieving their targets and having demonstrated progress in addressing the three key priorities of the school success plan component: literacy, numeracy and student retention.

While the FNSSP does not allow for funding for the same activity under two education programs (e.g. New Paths for Education and the FNSSP), this Program may fund eligible activities previously supported under another Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada program (e.g. New Paths for Education).

11. Monitoring and Accountability

Funding recipients must deliver the programs in accordance with the provisions of their funding agreement and the program delivery requirements outlined in these National Program Guidelines while also ensuring that the necessary management controls are in place to manage funding and monitor activities. Funding recipients are required to exercise due diligence when approving expenditures and must ensure that such expenditures are in accordance with the eligible expenditures set out in these National Program Guidelines.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is committed to providing assistance to recipients in order for them to effectively carry out obligations under these National Program Guidelines and funding agreements. Regional offices and other departmental contacts are available to answer questions and provide guidance related to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada programs and funding.

To ensure that program delivery requirements are being met, that funds are expended on the intended purposes, and that Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's accountability to Parliament is being met, activities including audits, evaluations, as well as desk and on-site compliance reviews will be conducted with all funding recipients.

  • The Department's collection and use of personal information and other records for the purposes of program compliance reviews will be limited to what is necessary to ensure program delivery requirements are met.
  • The Department is responsible for all information and records in its possession. The confidentiality of the information will be managed by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada in accordance with the Privacy Act and other related policies on privacy. Recipients are responsible for the protection of personal information per the privacy legislation, regulations and/or policies that govern them up to the point that it is transferred to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

12. Reporting Requirements

The recipient (aggregate/Regional First Nation Organization) will be responsible for ensuring that all reports for the three components are completed by each participating school, and that one aggregated report is submitted to the INAC relevant regional office.

The reporting requirements (program and financial reports) are listed in the recipient's funding agreement, and details on these requirements are available in the Reporting Guide. Recipients are responsible for ensuring that reporting requirements are met and reports are accurate and submitted on or before the established due dates. Recipients who have access to the INAC Services Portal can access the reporting forms by opening a session on the Portal. If you do not have access to the Portal, contact your regional office.

13. Contact Information

For further program information, please visit the First Nation Student Success Program page.

The regional offices coordinates can be found on the Regional Offices page.

You can also write to:
Education Branch
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
10 Wellington Street
Gatineau QC K1A 0H4
Education@aadnc-aandc.gc.ca

These National Program Guidelines can be consulted in the Education Programs - National Program Guidelines page of INAC's website and through the View Instructions button on the first page of this program's Data Collection Instrument (DCI).

ANNEX A: Detailed Program Requirements

FNSSP Components

School Success Plans

The school success plan process is a continuous improvement cycle. Recipients will be required to:

  • Assess the school environment and student achievement based on performance indicators including graduation rates, retention rates, student learning assessment results, report card marks, family surveys and other relevant information collected through performance measurement;
  • Develop/update a plan that includes set performance targets; three to four goals that focus on the three priority areas of literacy, numeracy and student retention; and strategies, targets, timelines, outcomes, indicators, and the roles and responsibilities of the appropriate parties. Recipients should review and update the plan annually as required;
  • Communicate the plan to the school's Council and community;
  • Implement strategies and monitor progress;
  • Measure results, assess whether targets have been met and evaluate effectiveness of strategies; and
  • Report on progress and results to families and communities.

Examples of activities related to literacy, numeracy and student retention

When developing the plan, recipients can support the three priority areas – literacy, numeracy, and student retention – through a variety of strategies which they identify as best meeting the needs of students and schools. The types of activities that schools could implement include: one-on-one or group intervention projects to address literacy needs; targeted or remedial math skills instruction; problem-solving and project-based learning strategies; student retention initiatives that focus on reducing drop-out rates; involvement of community and families in the design and implementation of initiatives; and incorporating new program structures to ensure smooth and successful grade transitions from kindergarten to high school graduation.

Under the student retention component, schools also have the flexibility to address both language and culture by implementing targeted activities related to one or both. Funding would support the purchase of resources or the development of activities that contribute to the students' sense of connection to their schools, and that engender pride in their heritage and enhance their perception of the value of education.

Student Learning Assessments

At a minimum, schools will participate in their respective provincial standards testing process. Schools may also choose to use a student standardized test recognized by the provincial Ministry of Education, such as Canadian Achievement Test (CAT) and Canadian Test of Basic Skills (CTBS). See additional information in the FNSSP Applicant's Toolbox.

Regardless of the type of test selected, the student learning assessment process will include:

  • A schedule of the implementation of the testing (grade levels and frequency);
  • Arrangement for marking and analysis of test results; and
  • A plan to report on results (See Section Performance Reporting in this Annex).

Performance Measurement

The key elements of performance measurement include:

  • School and student performance improvement goals and targets as identified in school success plans;
  • Performance indicators;
  • A school data system; and
  • Data analysis and reporting functions.

Early Literacy

Early Literacy - Recipients can support early literacy through a variety of strategies which they identify as best meeting the needs of students and schools

Example of activities:

  • Addressing early literacy needs through one-on-one or group intervention strategies.
  • Implementing targeted or remedial instruction.
  • Developing problem-solving and project-based learning strategies.
  • Introducing professional development targeted towards early years interventions/assessments.
  • Implementing early years assessments.
  • Involving community and families in the design and implementation of early literacy initiatives.

Performance Indicators

Performance measurement identifies indicators to measure success and progress towards the goals of literacy, numeracy, student retention and other goals as identified in the school success plan.

Performance indicators will meet the following criteria:

  • Be result-oriented.
  • Include at a minimum the core indicators below.
  • Be comparable to those used in the provincial system.
  • Be capable of monitoring student progress against a standard for literacy, numeracy and student retention.
  • Be cost-efficient (the costs to collect the information will be justifiable relative to the usefulness of the data).

Recipients may develop and track a variety of indicators. However, at a minimum, performance measurement will include the initial set of core indicators listed below. These core indicators may evolve or change over the course of the Program based on consultation with Program recipients and ongoing research into best practices and comparison with provincial outcomes.

Monthly Attendance Rate:

  • Monthly attendance rate = the number of days attended by the student divided by the total number of teaching days in a month multiplied by 100.

Graduation Rate:

  • Graduation rate = the number of students who graduate in June divided by (the number of students registered in September minus the number of students whose reason for leaving was transfer to another school, serious long-term illness or death) multiplied by 100 for each graduating year (e.g. grades 6, 8, 12, 11 in Quebec, etc.).

Retention rate:

  • Calculated annually for each grade from K-4 to grade 12 (grade 11 in Quebec).
  • Retention rate = number of students attending school in June divided by (the number of students registered in September minus the number of students whose reason for leaving was transfer to another school, serious long-term illness or death) multiplied by 100.

Literacy:

  • Annual literacy test results for applicable provincial standardized tests compared with results in previous years.

Numeracy:

  • Annual numeracy test results for applicable provincial standardized tests compared with results in previous years.

Performance Reporting

Each recipient will establish processes for the analysis, roll-up and reporting of performance information. Program requirements include:

  • Annual reports to students, families, communities and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, that address the objectives, indicators, targets, activities and results related to literacy, numeracy and student retention, on a school or aggregated basis as appropriate.
  • Data, information and related processes that demonstrate the following properties: accuracy, reliability, timeliness, confidentiality and security (i.e. compliance with privacy legislation, regulations and/or policies that govern them).

School Data Systems

A school data system supports the day-to-day record keeping (e.g. student identification data, report cards, daily attendance, test results, and the data required for reporting to families, communities and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada).

To select a school data system, recipients should begin by identifying system requirements (including features and functionality) through an assessment of the needs of the organization and users and stakeholders.

Recipients have only three options when selecting their school data system:

  1. Modification of a system currently used by a First Nation or group of First Nation schools.
  2. Purchase by a First Nation or group of First Nation schools of an appropriate expandable commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) education data management system.
  3. Adoption of the respective provincial data management system, modified to add First Nation-specific indicators and data.

A school data system selected from Options 1 or 2 must meet the following requirements:

  • Capacity to collect data required by First Nations and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to support performance measurement and day-to-day operations of First Nation schools.
  • Capacity to collect and report on student achievement test data.
  • An expandable data system that is capable of collecting data to meet current and future Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada reporting requirements.
  • An expandable data system that is capable of collecting the same information as the provincial performance data system to ensure data comparability (portability) and enable student information to be transferred between First Nation and provincial schools (for example, student identifier).
  • Basing the sharing of data among First Nations, provincial schools, and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada on established business practices and compliance with the provincial privacy legislation and federal Privacy Act.
  • Hardware and software that is reliable, secure and user-friendly.
  • A cost-effective system.
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