When students achieve, they move toward their chosen pathway. An elementary student successfully transitions to secondary school. A secondary student enters an apprenticeship, college, community, university or the workplace. Adults complete a high school diploma and pursue personal and professional goals. Because each student has individual needs, we use tiered intervention and support to ask: ‘What do all students need? What do some students need? And what do a few students need?’
More HWDSB students are meeting with success on EQAO assessments. In the last five years, the percentage of HWDSB Grade 3 students at or above provincial standard in reading has increased from 57 to 61 per cent. In writing, the rate rose from 61 to 71 per cent while math was stable at about 60 per cent.
For Grade 6 students, the five-year gains were 13 points in reading, 8 points in writing and stable in math. We have narrowed the gap with the provincial average.
Our gender gap has narrowed in the past five years in Grade 3 reading (down 6 per cent), Grade 3 writing (down 3 per cent), Grade 6 reading (down 2 per cent), Grade 6 writing (down 1 per cent) and Grade 9 academic math (down 1 per cent).
HWDSB continues to support students in special education and English Language Learners (ELLs). For Grade 3 ELLs the past year saw gains in reading (+3 per cent to 56 per cent, which is above provincial average) and writing (+4 per cent). For Grade 3 special education students, gains came in reading (+2 per cent). For Grade 6 ELLs, the past year saw substantial gains in reading (+11 per cent), writing (+7 per cent) and math (+6 per cent). For Grade 6 special education students, the year saw a gain in reading (+1 per cent).
Empower Reading Program
Developed by Hospital for Sick Children researchers in Toronto, this program in a number of our elementary schools provides multiple strategies for students with reading difficulties.
Nelson Levelled Literacy Intervention
We use this program as a Tier 2 intervention in Grade 1, as a companion to the Grade 1 Nelson Reading series. It has also been used with selected Grade 2 French Immersion students and selected English Language Learners.
Class Act kits were developed to serve small groups of students who required more assistance to develop critical early literacy and meta-linguistic skills. We provide kits to schools as a Tier 2 intervention for some students in kindergarten to Grade 2 students who experience difficulties in phoneme awareness, a foundational step to literacy.
Making it KLLIC!
The Kindergarten Literacy Learning in the Classroom program involves a partnership between classroom teachers and speech-language pathologists. This builds greater capacity for the instruction of language and early literacy skills. The program has been implemented in all kindergarten classrooms, including French Immersion classrooms, as a Tier 1 intervention for all students.
Our next steps will include the following:
Information and support will be provided to classroom teachers so they can effectively differentiate instruction and assessment to meet all student needs in the classroom, and on an individual level. Math will be a focus area.
We will continue to explore opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration between classroom teachers and school/system resource staff.
With our research department E-BEST, staff will continue to examine the methods, use and findings of data.
We will explore the link between student success on EQAO and on school-based assessments.
We will review student learning needs to encourage use of the most effective strategies for academic improvement.
At HWDSB, we want all students to graduate and move on to their post-secondary pathway of choice.The HWDSB graduation rate in June 2011 was 83 per cent compared to a provincial rate in 2010-11 of 82 per cent.
This rate includes students who graduated in their fourth or fifth year in high school. It does not include students who stay longer than five years to graduate or students who earn their last credits in Community and Continuing Education (CCE) or alternative education.
We have also been successful in re-engaging students who had left our system before graduating. As a result, our early leaver rate has decreased from 8 per cent in 2010 to 6 per cent in 2011. This has contributed to our higher graduation rate.
We support the success of our secondary students in many ways, including:
Programs that give students a chance to explore the workplace, which is essential for students who plan to enter the workplace or an apprenticeship after graduation.
Programs, where we have placed students at more than 800 employers in our community, ranging from accounting to health care, from retail to the trades. In 2011-12, 3,145 students (19 per cent of the population) participated in co-op.
OYAP & SHSM
In 2011-12, 867 students participated in the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) and 271 Grade 12 students were enrolled in Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM). Our SHSM student graduation rate of 26 per cent saw a substantial 10-point gain compared to 2010-11.
Interventions for adolescent non-readers, such as Wilson Reading and the Empower High School Program, continued in secondary schools where data indicated a need.
Other supports includere-engaging early leavers via individualized timetables, after-school credit earning opportunities, links to alternative and continuing education (night school, summer school, e-Learning), credit completion programs and a Mohawk College-HWDSB partnership that allows secondary students to experience post-secondary options.
Some of our next steps to support secondary students include:
Supporting secondary teachers with effective strategies in differentiating instruction and assessment for all students in the regular classroom. Secondary teachers are working in subject-specific learning teams to examine student data in the classroom including conversations, observations and student work to inform their instruction.
We continue to explore opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration between classroom teachers and school/system resource staff.
Our research department, E-BEST, supports the secondary panel with data collection and analysis. Data from provincial assessments in mathematics and the OSSLT will be examined in comparison to credit accumulation and course mark distribution data to determine how best to respond to the leaning needs of all students. Staff will continue to focus on providing the optimal learning conditions necessary to support students for graduation and their chosen pathway. We will pay extra attention to the unique learning needs of some students, such as those with special education needs.
School staff continue to reach out to students individually to provide programs that motivate them to complete diploma requirements. Special focus will be placed on students in Grade 12 and beyond who are at risk of leaving secondary school before graduation.
As our secondary day school graduation rate increased, so too did the graduation numbers for mature students aged 18 to 21 in community and continuing education. Graduates in this category totalled 73 in 2010-11 and 108 in 2011-12 – which represents an increase of 48 per cent.
At the same time, our Community and Continuing Education department participated in the Adult and Continuing Education School Improvement Project through the Ministry of Education and CESBA (Continuing Education School Board Administrators Association) this year. The research question that became the focus on this work was: What enables over age 21 students to enroll with CCE and what barriers exist?
Very few adults report no barriers to returning to school. Unfortunately, adult learners must overcome several barriers to enroll with CCE. In an online survey, we heard from one-sixth of our adult day school population and learned:
Students looked favourably on the CCE admission processes and programs, noted that transportation is very important for attendance, and that adult learners need to have their unique learning needs recognized. As is often the case with day school students, the single most important factor to encourage attendance and achievement in school is a good relationship with an effective teacher. Adult students want assistance with their postsecondary pathways in the form of guidance services or resume and job interview skills.
We are preparing our adult learners in ways that include:
The CCE improvement project informed professional development for CCE instructors and teachers. CCE collaborated with schools and the community to provide programs in locations near the homes of adult learners.
We reviewed our offerings and staffing in CCE and secondary settings to ensure course offerings meet student need. We paid attention to improving the instruction and assessment in the delivery of online courses, while aligning day-school and CCE e-Learning strategies to ensure credit integrity and Ministry of Education compliance. A joint e- Learning strategy ensures a continuum of experiences for students from day school to continuing education.
Admission & Programs
Students gave positive feedback on the CCE admission processes and programs. Adult students told us they have learning needs different than that of an adolescent learner and want this recognized. We are also responding to input from adult students about the desire for guidance services and career-seeking skills.
This high school program for adults with very few or no high school credits helps students earn their Grade 10 equivalency through four assessments: English, math, science, history and geography. They may earn up to 16 Grade 9/10 credits, and the senior level credit GLN4O.
Turning Point offers individualized help to students who have dropped out of school by differentiating instruction based on their needs and using strategies like paid co-op to help them get connected to their next step in life. Relocating to Mohawk College for 2011-12, the program now eases the move to college as a post-secondary pathway while providing students access to Mohawk’s services. In 2011-12, 153 students enrolled in Turning Point from 26 schools. Of these, 70 graduated, 30 went to post-secondary studies, four went to apprenticeships, eight went to work and two joined the armed forces.
The Advantage Program, developed this past year as a CCE Adult Day School (ADS) satellite pilot program, was designed for students whose families immigrated to Canada when they were in their late teens. These students are not able to complete their learning of English and accumulate all the credits needed to graduate before they turn 21 years old. The program was located at Sir John A. Macdonald in response to a community need. This location eliminated the barrier of physical access for students.
The CCE survey results will inform our next steps as we prepare all adult learners for success in their chosen pathways. We learned that there are factors that encourage adults to stay engaged in school after they have returned:
As we move forward, it is important that we not change practices that are working, especially in light of positive feedback regarding current CCE program and delivery. That said, we are considering the following our priorities: