Backgrounder: Approaches to Math Learning that Made a Difference

The 2018 Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement: Celebrating Schools that Use Data to Support Growth in Student Learning

Each year, EQAO recognizes schools on the journey of learning that have effectively used data to support student achievement in Ontario. Schools recognized through the Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement program have used a wide range of information, including EQAO data, to develop action plans based on their unique circumstances, and they have seen improvements in student achievement over time. Criteria for selection vary each year to highlight different areas of focus in public education. Through the program, EQAO aims to profile public and Catholic schools that are representative of each region of the province.

This recognition is named in honour of Dr. Bette M. Stephenson, former minister of Education and former minister of Colleges and Universities in Ontario. Dr. Stephenson is also currently director emeritus on EQAO’s board of directors.

This program represents an opportunity to share, highlight and learn about promising practices in education.

Criteria for 2018

This year, EQAO is celebrating schools that supported students’ passion and led to academic success in math. The school recipients of the 2018 Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement demonstrated improvements in EQAO results over the last three years by fostering strong attitudes toward math.

EQAO is celebrating schools that showed

  • strength and growth over three years in student attitudinal and behavioural data from EQAO questionnaires and
  • improvement over three years in EQAO results for Grades 3 and 6 math (for elementary schools) or for both Grade 9 applied and academic math (for secondary schools.

Approaches to Math Learning That Made a Difference

The analysis of EQAO data, combined with local classroom and school-board information, helps educators identify strengths and areas requiring further support. Schools use this information to develop instructional strategies that are appropriate to their unique circumstances.

The following provides an overview of some of the instructional strategies that educators used in 2018 to support students’ passion for math, which led to academic success.

  1. Creating a Culture of Inquiry and Collaboration
    Professional learning teams work strategically to analyze and respond to what EQAO and other data sources tell them about student conceptual understanding, skills and math attitudes. Data is an integral part of the iterative work that emerges from the professional cycle of planning, action, observation and reflection.
  2. Building Positive Attitudes Toward Mathematics
    Schools work collectively to create positive attitudes toward mathematics learning. Educators reinforce student confidence by helping to close gaps in student understanding and by building a problem-solving tool kit.
  3. Fostering Student Self- and Peer-Assessment Skills
    Teachers and students develop success criteria together. Co-creating the criteria gives students a clear understanding of expectations. Teachers and classmates use the criteria to provide descriptive feedback to improve students’ thinking and work.
  4. Spiralling the Curriculum
    Educators work together to understand the scope and sequence of concepts in the math curriculum and to create learning opportunities that repeatedly reconnect students to those skills and concepts.
  5. Using Multiple Representations of Mathematical Concepts
    Students are given opportunities to see mathematical concepts and processes represented in many ways by their peers and teachers. For example, students work together in small, flexible groups to add money using coins, a calculator, or paper and pencil.
  6. Engaging in Teacher Moderation of Student Work
    Professional learning teams of teachers co-develop rich mathematical tasks. Multiple teachers moderate student answers together to ensure student work is evaluated consistently. Student work provides learning teams with valuable information about next steps for instruction and professional learning.
  7. Accessing Supports Beyond the Classroom
    Schools create a safe and supportive environment where students are comfortable accessing resources available outside the classroom. These resources include student success teachers and special education teachers.
  8. Expanding the Math Vocabulary of French- and English-Language Learners
    Students learn the language of math through explicit teaching. Teachers provide students with many opportunities to develop their math communication skills. By encouraging students to verbalize their understanding, teachers are able to respond to their individual needs.

EQAO Contact

Sophie Auclair
Communications Officer

Skip to content