Approximately one-third of the school’s families are connected to the military base, and, as such, the community feels the anxiety of deployment, the pride of knowing that Canadian troops are supporting other countries around the world and the reality of loss. Within the school family, there is palpable trust between staff and students. Students also look out for one another—strong, supportive relationships are built during mixed-grade homeroom time and with peer mentors, senior peer tutors in intermediate classrooms and Grade 10 math buddies in primary classrooms.
At the beginning of each year, staff at St. Paul review EQAO results as a numeracy team and then as a whole staff. The data are analyzed for strengths and challenges and are used to inform collaborative inquiries and school improvement planning. Among the past three cohorts (2012–2014), there has been a significant increase in the percentage of students who rose to meet the provincial standard in math between Grade 6 and Grade 9. In the academic math course, a very high achievement rate has been maintained for a number of years. Staff attribute the strong achievement results to several key initiatives they have undertaken, which involved the numeracy team at St. Paul working with elementary teachers and the board-level math coach.
Student responses on EQAO questionnaires revealed that female students in the applied-level courses did not like math as much as the male students did and did not see the relevance of math in their lives. In order to engage female students positively in mathematics, “making math relevant” was initiated in Grade 9 and was eventually extended to the Grades 7 to 12 math classes. The initiative includes Career Day for Grades 7–9 students, with a focus on how math is interwoven into different careers. Students in Grades 9–11 complete contextualized learning activities, where they investigate careers and the strands of math that are needed for success in those careers.
EQAO data showed that students were struggling in the area of communicating their thinking in math. Grades 9 and 10 math teachers participated in collaborative inquiries with Grades 7 and 8 teachers to help students to improve their ability to communicate their thinking in math.
The collection of student work and self-reflections contained in students’ portfolios is an important piece of the assessment process. During the semester, each student’s portfolio is sent home, and it is one way to keep parents informed about their child’s learning.
"A few years ago, after a review of our EQAO math data, we intentionally invited all Grades 7 to 12 staff members to become invested in our plan to increase the success of our Grade 9 students in math. That enthusiasm spread, and now the collaboration of teachers from Grades 7 to 12 has become so natural that our students themselves are reaching back as math buddies with the campus primary students. We get excited about math initiatives and often joke that St. Paul is the school where math is cool! All staff can be proud of this commitment to student learning in math"
—Lisa Gorrell, Principal
School Profile and Results
Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement, 2015 School Recipient.