2017 School Recipient of the Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement
Equity and inclusion is a priority for EQAO and, this year, the agency sought to highlight the work being done by schools to address equity-related challenges. School recipients of the 2017 Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement saw an increase in the percentage of students with special education needs meeting the standard on either the reading or writing component of provincial assessments from 2014 to 2017, and these schools clearly demonstrated that their analysis of EQAO data helped inform decisions about initiatives to support student learning better.
Student population: 370
Principal: Andrew Nordman, Catherine Donnelly (former principal)
- For the past three years, the school has had a system-serving special education class in each of the primary, junior and intermediate levels (primary special needs, junior/intermediate language-learning disabilities and junior/intermediate dual support), supporting some of the highest needs students in the school and district.
- The school opened its doors in 1954 and has a rich history of serving a dynamic, ever-changing population and community.
- There are three programs at D. Roy Kennedy: a two-year bilingual kindergarten (50% English/50% French), an English program for Grades 1 to 8 and a French immersion program for Grades 4 to 8.
- A breakfast program to support students living in poverty is available before school, with funding from the Ottawa Network for Education.
““I think when we can see the impact of our actions as educators on student learning we create a culture of hope. Having measures of success, such as we get from EQAO data, confirms the progress students are making and provides the encouragement to persevere in making sure all students are successful.”— Catherine Donnelly, former principal
Educators at D. Roy Kennedy regularly engage in professional learning both at the district level (numeracy and literacy focus) and in school. The latter is guided primarily by the school improvement plan (which the Kennedy community calls a “school learning plan”), and staff adjust practices willingly to meet the needs of a changing clientele.
Refugee students and other newcomers to Canada are supported by the district’s Family Reception Centre and Multicultural Liaison Officers, all of whom work closely with the schools and families to support the students’ language and settlement needs, as well as to determine areas of academic strength and need in order to ensure social and emotional well-being.
“We have been able to foster a culture of hope within D. Roy Kennedy PS by helping students understand that success and achievement can happen no matter their background. Students are able to demonstrate achievement because barriers have been reduced or removed through continuous monitoring and with individualized programming. Individual needs are met through developing relationships that are necessary for each student to achieve.”— Andrew Nordman, principal
The school maintains close partnerships with various other external resources, including board resource officers, the Children’s Aid Society, Crossroads, the Youth Services Bureau, Rideauwood Addiction Services and the Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre, to ensure the needs of all students are being supported.
“The teachers teach me about stuff I need to learn. The school is nice to me; they give me breakfast every day and when I have no lunch. My teacher helps me learn lots of cool math stuff.”
What is the profile of this school community?
Profile of Grade 3 and Grade 6 Students
Number of Students
Number of Classes
English Language Learners
Students with Special Education needs (excluding gifted)
First Language Learned at Home Was Other Than English
Born in Canada
In Canada Less Than One Year
In Canada One Year or More But Less Than Three
In Canada Three Years or More
How have the results improved?
EQAO attitudinal and behavioural data help shape the school improvement plan by highlighting curricular areas and demographic cohorts (e.g., boys, students with IEPs) needing support: for example, the school’s percentage of students who “like to read” was low, so staff looked at how to improve it through a focus on non-fiction texts. Examining EQAO items and student results helps staff identify gaps in student understanding as well as related educator learning needs. For example, the school team saw that students needed to improve their ability to show and apply their thinking, which led the team to identify an educator learning need in the area of creating critical thinking tasks and using strategies to promote student talk (e.g., turn and talk) so that teachers could adjust their instruction according to what the students say. Examining Item Information Reports and individual student data helps identify the curriculum areas specific students need support in, and attitudinal and behavioural responses help to pinpoint the type of support particular students need. For example, a student who had a low reading score and indicated “never” liking to read prompted staff to create an individualized plan with the following components: intentional support (small-group instruction and a levelled-literacy intervention program), selected texts at an appropriate level and matching the student’s interests, and computer technology to read to the student.
“Here at D. Roy, the teachers here helped me learn by not babying me. They helped me to learn at my own pace without fear of falling behind.”— Student
“When the teacher sends homework home, it helps me out for my reading. Also, when the teacher is reading French words to us it helps me learn the language better. When the teacher give us tests in class and I make mistakes, she is always there to help me learn from them.”— Student
What initiatives have contributed to this improvement?
“Our schoolwide initiatives have created a safe place for all our students with IEPs. Our classrooms are an inclusive, safe environment where all ideas are important and valued. Our students with IEPs know that they can come to any teacher for support, whether it be academically and/or emotionally, before their feelings of frustration overwhelm them. From the breakfast program, mindfulness club, Go Girls, to sports, all students have a place to learn and grow; a place where they feel heard not judged, safe not scared, and supported not frustrated.” “— Arlene Adams, teacher
School Improvement Plan
The development of the school improvement plan is tied to the analysis of EQAO data. Initially, when results are released, the principal, in consultation with board staff, looks at the data in depth to identify trends and cohorts needing support. Staff then have an opportunity to examine the data at staff meetings and on the October ministry PA day. They look at student results overall to identify a school learning goal in an area of need, and also specific student data that can be incorporated into student profiles to determine supports and interventions. The team also looks at EQAO items alongside the student responses and exemplars and compares them to the tasks staff are using in the classroom, to determine whether changes are necessary. EQAO data, along with teacher observations, report card data and results from other assessments help identify educator learning needs so that further professional development can be implemented throughout the year.
The use of assistive technologies, specifically on Chromebooks, has allowed students with IEPs to access curriculum in a way that allows them to demonstrate achievement. Google Suite allows student’s access to Read&Write, an extension for the Chrome Web browser. The students who are on IEPs use Read&Write to convert speech to text or text to speech. Technology has allowed these students to overcome the barrier of “putting down” their thinking on paper by traditional means and to gain confidence in sharing their ideas in the classroom. The integration of technology of this kind into a student’s education requires planning, training and a full-team approach. School staff and board learning-support staff work in collaboration to ensure up-to-date data on learning needs. Once assigned assistive technology, students receive training from itinerant teachers covering the use of the Chromebook and Read&Write. The integration of technology requires support from the parents or guardians at home as well; since Google Suite can be used at home, parents are often trained on the technology and offered ways to assist their child. It is important to note that the use of Read&Write is not exclusive to students with IEPs. Students with IEPs work alongside their classmates with the Chromebook technology. Staff work together to gather data and ensure that tiered interventions appropriate to specific student need are in place.
“Using assistive technology has allowed students who can’t read at grade level access to learning material at grade level. For example, we have several students in Grade 5 that read at Grade 1 or 2 who can learn about new topics and respond with the use of text to speech. As well, students who can’t write can now produce written products using speech to text and word prediction. These students are now able to part of a regular classroom program and feel as if they belong to their peer group.”— Maria Hunter, teacher
High-Yield Strategy: Student Dialogue (Accountable Talk)
A variety of successful accountable talk strategies have been implemented for all students, especially for those with IEPs. Skills focusing on connecting student talk to student thinking have contributed to improved literacy skills. Students are able to build on other students’ thoughts and strategies, and teachers are able to use what they hear to adjust instruction for the group and provide timely feedback for individual students. The biggest implementation challenge was creating a school culture where student talk became the norm, as students weren’t used to it and educators were learning how to implement the strategy effectively.
“Our school initiatives have allowed exceptional students to integrate fully within the learning culture of the school and its classrooms. We have created conditions to ensure their strengths, talents and creativity are celebrated. Our collaborative work has shown how curriculum can be differentiated successfully at each grade level to honour learning differences, and allow students to construct knowledge alongside their peers.”— Peter B. Knight, teacher
How we analyze the data
Staff at D. Roy Kennedy
- Use EQAO attitudinal and behavioural data to shape school improvement and pinpoint the type of support particular students need
- Examine EQAO items and student results to identify gaps in student learning
- Review Item Information Reports and individual student data to identify the curriculum areas specific students needsupport in
How we put the data into action
- Develop a School Improvement Plan
- Use assistive technology to promote learning
- Implement a high-yield strategy
Sudbury Secondary School, Rainbow District School Board
Maxwell Heights Secondary School, Durham District School Board
M.M. Robinson High School, Halton District School Board
Elmira District Secondary School, Waterloo Region District School Board
St. Francis Xavier High School, Ottawa Catholic District School Board
John McCrae Secondary School, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Kenner Collegiate Vocational Institute, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board
Regiopolis-Notre Dame Catholic High School, Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board
St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School, Sudbury Catholic District School Board
Pine Grove Public School, District School Board of Niagara
St. Gabriel Catholic Elementary School, Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board
Sister Catherine Donnelly Catholic School, Simcoe County District School Board
St. Matthew Catholic School, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board
Fleming Public School, Toronto District School Board
Springbrook Public School, Peel District School Board
Byron Southwood Public School, Thames Valley District School Board
Superior Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Lakehead District School Board
South Carleton High School, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Holy Names Catholic High School, Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board
Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute, Toronto District School Board
McKellar Park Central School, Lakehead District School Board
St. Dominic Savio Catholic School, Waterloo Catholic District School Board
St. Bernadette Catholic School, Durham Catholic District School Board
Beverley Heights Middle School, Toronto District School Board
Pius XII Catholic Elementary, Sudbury Catholic District School Board
Sir William Gage Middle School, Peel District School Board
St. Martin School, Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board
D. Roy Kennedy Public School, Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
Maple High School, York Region District School Board
Essex District High School, Greater Essex County District School Board
Mississauga Secondary School, Peel District School Board
Governor Simcoe Secondary School, District School Board of Niagara
Cardinal Carter Catholic Secondary School, Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board
Earl Haig Secondary School, Toronto District School Board
St. Edmund Separate School, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board
Pleasantville Public School, York Region District School Board
Nelles Public School, District School Board of Niagara
St. Luke Catholic Elementary School, Nipissing-Parry Sound Catholic District School Board
St. Aloysius Catholic Elementary School, Waterloo Catholic District School Board
Centennial Road Junior Public School, Toronto District School Board
Dunlace Public School, Toronto District School Board
St. John XXIII Catholic School, Renfrew County Catholic District School Board
E. J. James Public School, Halton District School Board