Student population: 873; Grades: 9–12; Principal: Cheryl Mancuso
Governor Simcoe Secondary School is located in the north end of St. Catharines. The school offers two Specialist High Skills Major Programs: Information & Communications Technology and Manufacturing. Governor Simcoe has a dynamic robotics program that has received provincial, national and international recognition.
"We encouraged our child to take advantage of the supports available for him at school, whether they were in class or during his MSIP. He felt safe in his math class, and benefited from getting extra help during lunch to prepare for EQAO. Seeing he was on an IEP, we encouraged him to advocate for extra time and alternative settings to write tests and EQAO. Recognizing that he had large gaps from Grade 8, placing him in the applied stream was a good decision."
"I really like the fact that I can travel during my MSIP to get extra help. Being able to sit with a math teacher and go over my homework or assignments is extremely useful, especially in the senior grades."
To be considered, schools had to have
The staff has a thorough understanding of the needs of both the students currently at Governor Simcoe and those who are coming. Staff members study EQAO results to determine the needs of students entering Grade 10 and to understand the programming needs of new students entering Grade 9. For incoming students, the staff examines the Grades 3 and 6 EQAO results, as well as those from an assessment of mathematics administered at the end of Grade 8 in participating schools.
Multi-Subject Instructional Periods (MSIPs) are used for students to review the day’s learning and get started on additional work assigned by classroom teachers. With a fifth period each day, students are able to connect with peers and teachers for help in specific subject areas. Students with particular needs in mathematics are placed with teachers who specialize in math to ensure that they get support.
Speaker — Cheryl Mancuso, School Principal
In 2007, Governor Simcoe Secondary School moved from a four-period school day to a five-period school day. By doing this, we moved from 75-minute periods to 60-minute periods in duration. The fifth period is called a “Multi-Subject Instructional Period,” or an MSIP period. Every student in the school has an MSIP period in their timetable first and second semester. These are mandatory periods, and they are attached to the instructional time for each of their courses. These MSIP periods are also multi-grade groupings. So we have students from Grades 9 through 12 in each of these classes.
The MSIP period itself can land in any of the five periods during the school day. We have multiple periods of MSIP running in each of the periods of the school day. There’s many benefits to MSIP: one is we provide students the opportunity to organize, practice, and review their learning for the day. It gives them the opportunity to travel and meet with a teacher that can assist them in their learning from the day. It provides students with the opportunity to work with peers. It provides students with the opportunity to catch up on some missed work, whether that missed work was caused due to an absence for illness or appointment or being involved in school activities. It also provides students the ability to start their homework and gain some clarification prior to leaving for the school day. It also benefits students because it provides some leadership and mentorship opportunities for students, as they are able to help their peers.
Here at Governor Simcoe, we have created our MSIP schedule around the fact of having a math support teacher available each of the five periods. Not only do we have a math teacher attached to an MSIP during each period, we also have multiple teachers in the school that are very comfortable in mathematics and are there and willing to support students in their math learning. We also utilize our student success and our resource room for students’ assistance in math. So our SERT, along with EAs, are available during the school day during each of the periods to support students on IEPs with their mathematics. We have found this to be critical and very important in terms of moving student learning forward and math results forward in the Grade 9 math assessment.
We review our student needs regularly based on the MSIP structure. If students need to be moved between teachers in MSIP, we do so. And that way we do it permanently and students don’t have to travel to a teacher—they are there every single day in front of that teacher.
MSIP helps students prioritize their class work and their learning needs. They become stronger advocates for themselves. We see this each and every day as they request support in seeing particular teachers. It’s become a norm for our students to reach and ask for support in terms of travelling. They are becoming very comfortable with that, and we can see that and hear that in the communications that students are having. It also really creates students to become more disciplined learners, knowing themselves better, and these skills that they are learning through MSIP are actually transferable skills that will better prepare them for their next step past high school.
Governor Simcoe staff believe that being well-informed before students arrive at their school is essential for planning. The board provides in-depth reports for each Grade 9 mathematics class, including EQAO and report card data, along with results from a Grade 8 math assessment administered in participating feeder schools. The information in these reports provides teachers with a clear view of the needs of the students that arrive in their classrooms each semester.
The DSBN has created a Grade 8 assessment which is similar in style to the Grade 9 EQAO test, consisting of multiple-choice questions and open-response questions. This Grade 8 assessment is written by all students board-wide and is then scored by the Grade 8 teachers. These scores are then sent to the board office, where the results are collated into a document that is prepared for the Grade 9 teachers. This document not only consists of the marks from the Grade 8 assessment but also the EQAO scores for each individual student in Grade 3 and Grade 6, as well as their Grade 7 and 8 marks, which are organized into strands.
So just to show you what this document looks like: At the beginning of each semester, we would receive a document like this, which is colour-coded to outline the different levels of achievement for each individual student. So this document serves to inform instruction for the teacher as well as to be able to assess which students may require additional support, and we are able to put those supports in place early on in the semester so as to maximize the potential of improvement and success in those particular students.
Students cannot always get all the support they need during class time. The math department at Governor Simcoe provides opportunities for students to get extra help during their lunch periods, which also prepares the students for the Grade 9 assessment.
Speaker — Chris Bolle, Math Program Leader
Our school board, the District School Board of Niagara, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education has been very generous in providing funds for after-hours numeracy.
One of the programs we run here at Governor Simcoe Secondary School is the lunchtime EQAO prep sessions. Here’s how it works: After midterm, our Grade 9 math teachers sit together and identify any students that may require additional support. The general cutoff is a mark below 60%. Our math teachers then make personal phone calls home to the parents of these children and encourage the parents to have their child attend these sessions. We also encourage all of our students to attend if they would like, and we tell them that in class, regardless of what their mark is—so we don’t just single out students that might have gaps and require the extra support.
We run these sessions every Tuesday and Thursday from midterm until the EQAO test is administered. Because they are at lunch, we provide free pizza, not just to feed them—also as a bit of encouragement for them to come. Any given Tuesday and Thursday, we have between 25 and 30 students attending these sessions. The sessions are always run by a math teacher, and they go over multiple-choice strategies and how to write a good open-response answer on these questions for EQAO.
I feel fairly confident that all of our students that attend these sessions are fully prepared to write the EQAO test. They’ve had a lot of practice with different strategies to take multiple-choice questions, and they’ve looked extensively at scoring guides with code 30 and 40 solutions, and they’re well aware of how to write a good answer for an open-response question. I think it has been a real good success here at Governor Simcoe Secondary School, and I think that all the students that attend achieve at the highest level they are capable of if they attend these sessions.
School Profile and Results