Cardinal Carter Catholic Secondary School

2016 School Recipient of the Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement

2016 School Stories

Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board

Student population: 536; Grades: 9–12; Principal: Dwayne Brunet

  • Cardinal Carter is in Leamington, a community of 28 000 located on the north shore of Lake Erie that boasts it is “home to the largest concentration of greenhouses in North America.”
  • The school offers unique programming options, including sport academies and, beginning in September 2017, an agri-business academy.
  • The percentage of students in applied mathematics meeting the provincial standard has steadily increased from 21% in 2012 to 66% in 2016.
  • Struggling students are identified early (using data), and interventions are provided, including math help at lunch, support in class, and an eight-week twice-weekly after-school numeracy program.
Left to right: Dwayne Brunet (Principal), Sue Latour, Denise Sauve, Charbel Taouil

Cardinal Carter is a relatively small school with a diverse range of student learning needs. In order to support students with IEPs (about 23%), the staff is learning how to work with students’ strengths to overcome areas of challenge and bridge gaps. Teachers regularly participate in cross-panel professional learning cycles with feeder schools to create a deeper understanding of the curriculum, instruction and assessment strategies that support and improve learning for all.

Selection Criteria

To be considered, schools had to have

  • a program in applied Grade 9 mathematics, as this program was the focus of the selection;
  • a minimum of two sections of students in applied mathematics in 2016 (with a total number of students greater than 30);
  • results showing increases in five consecutive years in the number of students reaching the provincial standard in applied mathematics and
  • results in academic mathematics that were close to, at or above the provincial average and that improved or were relatively stable over the same five-year period.

What is the profile of this school community?

Profile of Grade 9 Students

English language learners
Special education needs
Speaks primarily a language other than English at home

How have the results improved?

Each year, the school looks at class profiles alongside EQAO primary- and junior-assessment results and cohort data trends, including in attitudes and behavior data. At the beginning of the school year, in meetings with other math departments in the board, staff members analyze the data and determine areas of need and improvement. As part of their work with the School Support Initiative, and now Achieving Excellence in Applied Courses, teams monitor student learning in response to evidence-based instructional strategies used in classrooms.

What initiatives have contributed to this improvement?

Developing High Expectations with Students

Having an experienced teacher who is driven and who uses creative teaching approaches is critical to maintaining or improving scores. Teachers have high expectations for their students and attempt to motivate them to do better. The staff believes that everyone can improve, and this message is communicated loudly and clearly to parents and students.

Supporting Learning with Manipulatives and Technology

Grade 9 math teachers think carefully about how they use differentiated instruction and technology to supplement classroom instruction to reach and engage multiple types of learners and learner profiles. Math games, individual white boards, iPads, computers and manipulatives are just a few of the high and low tech tools found in every Grade 9 and 10 math classroom. With the incorporation of these instructional tools, more students become interested in learning math.

Formative Assessment to Monitor Learning

Teachers use ongoing and deliberate formative assessment through journals, exit cards, vertical surfaces and Google Forms to help them identify student strengths and areas of difficulty and to help them provide well-timed responses. Students co-create learning goals and success criteria with their teacher. They are given multiple opportunities to demonstrate their understanding and, through descriptive feedback, are able monitor their progress without feeling as though they are always being evaluated.

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