The Rainy River District School Board deserves high marks for its concerted effort to improve local students’ results on the provincial Grade 10 literacy test, which saw the board jump from the lowest-ranked in Ontario to above the provincial average.
All in the space of a year.
While the debate rages on over the merit of such a standardized test, which students are now required to pass in order to graduate from high school, what cannot be questioned is the fact 79 percent of Fort High students passed both the reading and writing components back in February—compared to a dismal 55 percent when the first test was held in October, 2000.
Rather than complain about the veracity of the results two years ago, or slough them off as comparing apples and oranges, the local public board instead grabbed the bull by the horns and immediately drew up an action plan to turn things around.
Literacy teams were put in place at each of the board’s three high schools (Fort High, Rainy River High School, and Atikokan High School), a renewed emphasis on writing was implemented across the curriculum, and students went through intense preparation, including taking practice exams and having the chance to attend remedial classes after school if they needed it.
It obviously all paid off.
Granted, there’s still room for improvement. And the results from this year’s test, which will be held Oct. 23-24, will see if last year’s dramatic turnaround was simply a flash in the pan.
More likely, though, thanks to the determination of the board to move quickly after the first set of results, and the effort of its staff and the students themselves, chances are the latest results are just the start of a steady trend upwards.
The board should take a bow, but really it is our kids who are the real winners.