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Catholic board aims to boost math levels

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Not entirely content with its math achievement levels, the Northwest Catholic District School Board is hoping a new direction and better support will help them.

That was the message from Kim Anderson, assistant to the superintendent of education, at the board's regular monthly meeting last Tuesday.

During the meeting, which took place via videoconference in the board office next to St. Francis School, Anderson outlined the final report of student achievement in the 2016-17 school year.

For the EQAO results, 70 percent of the board's Grade 3 students were at or above the provincial standard (levels 3 and 4) in writing, 68 percent in reading, and 57 percent in mathematics.

Meanwhile, 73 percent of Grade 6 students were at or above the provincial standard in writing, with 74 percent in reading but only 46 percent in mathematics.

Although these numbers are fairly consistent with provincial averages, the local board still is looking at ways to raise the percentage of students reaching the standard.

Anderson said the idea is to make more frequent visits to the classroom teachers to help plan curriculum, instead of just once a year.

“We are going to take a different approach this year and we are going to go into every school when they have their school plan meeting,” Anderson told the board.

“We are going to sit down with the entire team,” she stressed.

“We're going to be working with them at the elbow and giving them support.”

Once the plans are developed, then they can begin to specialize and realize what kind of supports they need throughout the year.

“If it's literacy, we go to the curriculum co-ordinator," cited Anderson. ”And if it's math, we have our math facilitator.

“And Mr. [Brad] Oster brings with him a great deal of experience with the renewed math strategy, as well as his math facilitator background at his previous board,” she added.

Oster, who previously worked at the Rainy River District School Board, was hired in August as the other assistant to the superintendent of education alongside Anderson.

“So we have a lot of supports that we are going to put into place,” she assured the board.

And Anderson believes it won't just be the teachers benefiting from this “at the elbow” support four or five times a year, but also the principals as they perform their roles as instructional leaders.

“They will develop their school improvement plans and we will support them, then from there we will take our school improvement plans and that will be our board improvement plan,” she explained.

There also is going to be more of a focus on providing specialized supports based on data from EQAO testing and report card results, said Anderson.

“What we are going to do is dig very deeply into the individual data, which we can already do with the EQAO data,” she noted.

"But we will now do [it] with the report card data and see where the supports are needed.

“We are going to be more personal and precise, and work with our schools as we focus on the needs of our teachers, our students, as well as our instructional leaders,” she vowed.

Anderson said she thinks they have a good plan in place going forward, and stressed the importance of recognizing that every school has different needs and that a specialized plan for each school is a way to improve across the board.

“I do think this will be very well-received by the principals, and especially with the teachers as we are with them digging deeper into their data and supporting them where they need it,” she reasoned.

Also at last Tuesday's meeting, trustees:

  • recognized Our Lady of the Way School custodian Edith Haw for organizing the school's “Canada 150” float in the Stratton parade last month;
  • heard from the principals of St. Michael's, Sacred Heart, and St. Patrick's about the summer learning programs held at each of their schools this past summer;
  • approved two new members for the Special Education Advisory Committee;
  • put a plan in place to fill the empty trustee seat vacated by Deacon Bob Grynol's move at the beginning of October;
  • received an update on the new First Nations, Métis, and Inuit board website, which is set to launch at the end of October; and
  • received an update on the St. Michael's and St. Francis school consolidation build.
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