John Paul II Secondary School serves a highly multicultural school population of approximately 1250 students. Many of the students are recent immigrants to Canada.
In 2004–2005, 76% of students in the Grade 9 academic mathematics program and 46% of students in the Grade 9 applied mathematics program met or surpassed the provincial standard.
One of our best initiatives has been to open the dialogue between elementary teachers of math and the Grade 9 math teachers at John Paul II. We believe that a consistent approach to the delivery of mathematics is a key factor for success. By having Grade 9 math teachers focus on the same page of the curriculum at the beginning of the school year, we have been able to identify students who are struggling in their program and change them to an appropriate level before Thanksgiving to increase their chance of succeeding.
John Paul II Secondary School’s emphasis on consistency and a math-positive culture has helped foster student achievement. Students recognize the value of hard work, as it leads to receiving tremendous assistance to guide their success. The school offers a Continuing Education program that provides after-school help for at-risk students in math as well as literacy. Teachers work closely together to share tasks, tests and lesson plans, so consistency is maintained. In-school learning communities that share best practices have resulted in a mix of testing and teaching approaches designed to connect with different learning needs. A blend of TIPS strategies, manipulatives, technology and even rote teaching has been found to enhance student achievement. At this school, classroom discipline is viewed as a critical strategy to promote learning, and one that is actively supported by the administration. Teachers take steps to communicate with parents as soon as concerns arise. As well, there is great attention to scheduling to allow manageable class sizes, particularly in the applied program. Every effort is made to help students and their parents overcome negative perceptions and fears of math. EQAO testing happens at the last possible date to allow for maximum curriculum teaching, and students are given practice questions throughout the semester to decrease stress.