Pape Avenue Junior Public School serves a diverse population of 300 students in junior kindergarten–Grade 6. It has experienced a slight shift in demographics but continues to serve many students who speak Mandarin and Cantonese. The school was chosen to pilot the full-day kindergarten program based on community needs and because it already had an excellent childcare facility on site. The school also hosts an Early Years Parenting Centre that provides many resources that help parents learn from one another. As a result of its welcoming atmosphere, mothers, fathers, grandparents and caregivers visit the centre daily.
The teachers set high academic standards for their students with the support of the parent community. The teachers work hard to gain the parents’ trust, and the school council works with the school to communicate information and engage parents. This year, every classroom teacher has developed a Web site so parents can access classroom news, homework assignments and information about planned events and trips. To respect the culture of the parents and students, print materials are also posted throughout the school in the languages spoken in the school community. As a result of these initiatives, parents are more engaged in the activities of the school and volunteer to assist with such programs as Scientists in the School and class trips. These trips are important because they support
In order to engage parents and encourage communication, Pape Avenue initiated a program in kindergarten called “Welcome Wednesdays.” Once a month, parents, grandparents and caregivers are invited into the classroom to participate in reading, writing, mathematics or art activities with their children. This program is successful, with almost 100% attendance. Even though many of the parents do not speak English, they look forward to this event and would like to see the program extended to the other divisions. Establishing parent partnerships in kindergarten has encouraged engagement in and support for the school and its programs.
“We are a positive and committed staff who willingly introduce and refine practices bringing our individual strengths and expertise to the table. The EQAO data guides our decision making and teachers constantly reflect on how best to use the data to set goals and develop strategies to move our students forward. They are continually reflecting on what they have accomplished and what still needs to be done.”
—Mary Patrick, Principal
The school improvement team reviews the over-time EQAO data to examine the trends and identify areas of strength and areas for improvement. To develop the school improvement plan, teachers examined the Item Information Reports and identified a need for skill building in the areas of making connections, drawing inferences and answering open-ended questions. School and board data, such as those from DRA, PM Benchmarks, CASI and Running Records, are also used to determine next steps. Teachers believe that data provide the evidence to plan the pathway to change instructional practice. Teaching-Learning Critical Pathways meetings are planned around the identified needs. Teachers meet in their divisions or with their grade partners to examine the data and develop strategies that will refine their daily practice. Teachers access the EQAO exemplars to help them understand the levels of achievement and use moderated marking to create their own. Using success criteria with the students has alsoproven successful. Penny Tatsiopoulos, Grade 2 and 3 teacher, states: “We set high expectations for our students. They recognize and understand what the expectations are for each level and effectively use descriptive feedback to articulate why the sample is at a particular level. The students take pride in their work and strive to meet our expectations.” Teachers track students throughout the year using data walls and Running Records to ensure progress.
The teachers at Pape Avenue also believe that children learn through the arts. A strong arts focus is included in their daily instruction to support the curriculum. Cross-curricular activities give students a chance to understand concepts using a variety of teaching and learning strategies and provide opportunities for everyone to experience success.
Another whole-school initiative at Pape Avenue is “Accountable Talk.” All teachers participate in professional development activities where the dialogue centres on what is acceptable talk and developing criteria that will allow all to have the same expectations of students. Teachers encourage students to be critical thinkers and are proud that the students are confident expressing ideas and opinions and can advocate for themselves when necessary. Students are not afraid to ask “why” or “why not” to better understand the bigger picture.
Teachers use the EQAO Cohort Tracking Report to monitor the success of strategies that are being implemented. They believe that the EQAO assessments reflect the curriculum and are a culminating whole-school effort. Teachers meet, formally and informally, to share what works and what changes may be necessary to move students forward. Penny Tatsiopoulos states: “Our teachers are very open to change and are constantly reflecting on their practice, making changes when necessary so students have every opportunity to achieve success.”
The administration and staff at Pape Avenue have worked hard to engage the parents and students in the activities of the school. They share the belief that all students can achieve success with the appropriate supports. Principal Mary Patrick states: “We are a positive and committed staff who willingly introduce and refine practices bringing our individual strengths and expertise to the table. The EQAO data guides our decision making and teachers constantly reflect on how best to use the data to set goals and develop strategies to move our students forward. They are continually reflecting on what they have accomplished and what still needs to be done.”