Student population: 305; Grades: K–8; Principal: Janet Foote
St. Aloysius Catholic Elementary School, located in downtown Kitchener, serves a significantly high multicultural and multilingual student population. Teachers have taken a learning stance where they invest in their own learning (growth mindset) and are very open to collaboration among staff. Teachers in leadership roles support the learning stance, and the principal is seen as a co-learner and is at the table learning alongside her teachers.
"Our data shows that students struggle with spatial reasoning, specifically visualizing when problem solving. Teachers are working toward developing a common understanding of spatial reasoning in order to facilitate the use of visual models and strategies throughout their balanced numeracy program."
At St. Aloysius, the EQAO math results have played a significant role in helping staff identify the problem of practice—visualization through spatial reasoning. Analyzing the cluster of transformational geometry and visual patterning questions in the Item Information Report (IIR) and looking at this data relative to classroom assessment data, staff confirmed gaps in student learning in math. Further analysis of the EQAO achievement results helped staff set the direction and goals for students at Levels 1 and 2 in Grade 3 to improve to meet or exceed the provincial math standard in Grade 6. While the attitudes of students toward math seem quite positive, the staff also look carefully at the Student Questionnaire results to see if there is a change in attitudes from year to year and if a culture shift is required.
Early in the school year, staff identify gaps in Grade 3 math. Using released math questions from previous EQAO tests, staff create a mock test and administer it to all Grade 3 students. The mock test helps staff to identify any gaps in learning as well as any Levels 2 and 3 learners. These students are monitored and tracked through monthly meetings. Later in the year, the same test is administered again to ensure that gaps have been closed. Recognizing that even though some students are achieving at Level 3 in Grade 3, staff also monitor, track and focus on strategies through Grades 4, 5 and 6 to help students who are achieving at the lower end of Level 3.
Petra LeDuc, Numeracy Consultant, K–8
"Our learning journey with EQAO data and the structure of the assessment has been an evolution at this school. We have really learned to dig deep and understand what that data is telling us and also to use the structure of those questions to really identify gaps where kids might not be accessing the curriculum. We’ve been lucky in the sense too that we have used it early on in Grade 3 and in Grade 4 and in Grade 5 onward to Grade 6, and we’ve been fortunate to have the leadership of our administrator, who has really provided us time to moderate that in monthly meetings and to really have that time to sort of collaborate around that information and set strategies for kids to move them."
Janet Foote, Principal
"To support that, we begin early on in Grade 3, and our students write a mock EQAO test in a setting very similar to what they would write in the spring, and teachers then are given release time to moderate and mark those tests and figure out where the gaps are, especially with our Level 2 struggling learners and our fragile Level 3 learners. Then the gaps are addressed throughout the year. Later on the same test is administered again to make sure that those gaps have been closed—in most cases, they have. This strategy has been so successful for our school that next year we are looking to use this same model in Grade 4 and Grade 5, and hopefully we will see the same success again that we’ve seen in Grade 3."
"What we do find are the strategies that we are putting in place to identify the gaps with our Level 2 students are good for all strategies—not that we are eliminating those strategies for Level 1s, but they usually have a little bit more personalized programming. In terms of the successful strategies we are putting in place, they really do speak to the majority of the students that we are really going after, which is moving our Level 2s to our Level 3s and 4s."
To assist in the students’ academic understanding and progression, the Grade 6 teacher uses the three Vs—visualize, verbalize and verify—and introduces students to the characteristics of the four EQAO scoring codes and anecdotal descriptions using the achievement-chart language in EQAO scoring materials, so students can gain confidence in their own work for the purpose of improvement. Students dissect the four scoring codes to know what each code looks like and why work is considered to be at each code. Students have gained the confidence to not only analyze their own work (self-reflect, self-assess), but also to analyze that of their peers as a means to support one another. According to the students in this classroom setting, it should be noted that all students are encouraged to work to the best of their abilities throughout the year!
Dave Glofcheski, Grade 6 Teacher
"I will give you a brief synopsis of what happens in my classroom community. Throughout the year, we are doing things like simulated testing, and to prepare for that, at the beginning of the year, we start focusing on the three Vs. The three Vs are visualizing, verbalizing and verifying their work. So as we work through that, I have noticed that their self-confidence in their abilities slowly increase. So during that time, we start doing what is called simulated testing, with the materials that the EQAO Web site provides us. Part of the process, when the students are looking at anchor responses given on the EQAO Web site, is that they’re dissecting the annotations and the rationale, we would call it, of the responses that are given and the coding that’s being provided. And often, within the group inquiry, they are questioning, or they’re looking at what they could do to improve this coding. And from there, it is very beneficial and important to know that the focus is not just for the EQAO assessment, but within the everyday classroom practice; they find themselves being much more successful, and they are supporting each other."
School Profile and Results
EQAO’s provincial news release:
EQAO Celebrates Five Ontario Elementary Schools for Their Math Strategies That Work
EQAO in the News:
Kitchener Students Find Success in New Learning Strategies