Holy Names Catholic High School

2017 School Recipient of the Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement

Patrick Hickson, Principal of Holy Names Catholic High School, is presented with the Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement from Norah Marsh and Dave Cook, respectively CEO and Chair of EQAO.

Selection Criteria

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.

Holy Names Catholic High School, Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board

Student population: 1252; Grades: 9–12; Principal: Patrick Hickson

  • A suburban high school in Windsor, Holy Names serves a population diverse in ethnicity, culture, religious belief and gender identity.
  • Having established a gay-straight alliance two years ago, Holy Names has hosted a GSA conference and opened a single-occupancy gender-neutral washroom.
  • Holy Names enjoys a high level of extracurricular success, with many teams advancing to regional and provincial championships; the senior football team won the OFSAA title in fall 2017.
  • The school has strong partnerships with the community for co-op placements and with the University of Windsor’s Faculty of Sciences for a new STEM program.

With a widely diverse school community, including over 200 students on Individual Education Plans (IEPs), 30 life-skills students and an increasing number with mental wellness needs, Holy Names staff focus on building a culture that reflects the school’s motto, Aliis Non Sibi (“for others, not ourselves”). The Holy Names community believes that everything is possible, that active listening leads to understanding, that mistakes are necessary for growth, and that mindfulness and resiliency are essential to well-being. For the past three years, the percentage of students with special education needs succeeding on the OSSLT has increased, which staff attribute to the feeling among these students that they are accepted and safe, that their educational, emotional and social needs are being met, and that they are included in everything that happens in the school.

““We as a staff all strive to improve the educational outcomes for all students. Many of our initiatives are designed to best serve the students’ needs, and we have very strong leaders and teachers who strive for excellence in terms of student achievement regardless of pathway or ability. Most use differentiated instruction as an effective teaching tool to aid in the varied ways students learn—especially when it comes to accommodations as outlined for students with IEPs. At HNH, we provide many opportunities for students to reach their full potential through various programs.”

— Jackie Jamail-Lopez – Physical Education Department Head

What is the profile of this school community?

(eligible to write the test for the 1st time)

Number of Students
Students Who Participated Fully
English Language Learners
English Language Learners Receiving Special Provisions *
Students with Special Education Needs (excluding gifted)
Students with Special Needs Receiving Accommodations (excluding gifted) *
Students Who Speak Another Language (or Other Languages) as Often as English at Home
Students Who Speak Only or Mostly a Language (or Languages) Other Than English at Home
*Counts and percentages are based on students who participated in the March administration, which offered all permitted special provisions and accommodations. These data were collected through EQAO’s Student Data Collection system.

How have the results improved?

Left to right: Liana Cote-Montminy (English Dept. Head/Literacy Support Teacher); Patrick Hickson (Principal); Monique Dugal (Special Education Dept. Head

Over the past few years, the staff has redoubled its efforts to look at data from all the sources available—EQAO’s Item Information Reports, Grades 3 and 6 results and cohort tracking reports; classroom assessment results; school-collected data, such as credit accumulation information, data about students at-risk, interim progress reports, and attendance and behaviour records; and the information in the board’s data warehouse—to inform teaching and the school improvement plan. When OSSLT results are released, administrators and teachers examine the Student Questionnaire and Item Information Report data, deeply mining them as well as the data from other sources, so that they can find trends, identify literacy deficits and build the schoolwide literacy component of their school improvement plan. Students’ Grades 3 and 6 EQAO results, along with the administration of a practice literacy test in Grade 9, assist the staff in identifying marker students who may need interventions and shaping accommodations for IEPs. In addition, teachers in professional learning communities use information from Grades 9 and 10 student work to compare against EQAO results.

“I have found that using a student’s IEP like a roadmap is helpful. I try not to build a course or unit around the IEP, but rather I use the IEP to help me deliver the course material in a way that makes it accessible to the student … Nothing builds confidence in the locally developed students more than feeling like an academic equal.”

— Daniella Czudner – English Teacher

What initiatives have contributed to this improvement?

Understanding Students’ Learning Needs and Accommodations

During professional learning sessions, the entire staff, in departmental groups, reviewed the EQAO Item Information Reports, identified areas of challenge and participated in a collaborative scoring activity with OSSLT items and scoring guides. This process gave rise to conversations about different learning styles and how literacy could be improved by chunking expectations for students with accommodations in their IEPs. Staff were given a variety of student profiles and asked to share how they would support the students in the areas of feedback, monitoring, literacy, numeracy, Catholicity, pathways, learning environment, resources, assessment and teaching strategies. In addition, all staff have participated in professional learning related to the process, function and importance of IEPs, so when IEPs are put into their hands, they are more aware of the differentiated learning needs associated with individual student profiles, of the accommodations and technologies available and how mental wellness ties into IEPs.

Professional Learning Communities

Believing that what is necessary for some students is generally good for all, the professional learning community concerned with literacy at Holy Names strives to improve the achievement level of all students, regardless of pathway, while addressing the specific learning deficiencies identified through analysis of the OSSLT Item Information Reports. The learning community, which includes the English and social studies department heads, Grades 9 and 10 English teachers, a cross-section of teachers of Grades 9 and 10 applied and locally developed courses, special education teachers and the principal and vice-principal, meets at least three or four times a semester to look at student work, engage in moderated marking and use data-informed research-based instructional strategies to focus on student success across the curriculum. The school applied for funding through the Teacher Learning and Leadership Program to embed professional learning community time in the school day in order to explore differentiated instruction and assessment, as well as to fund the purchase of paper and digital graphic novels, iPads, apps and teacher learning materials to address students’ literacy needs. In addition, teachers research and learn about adapting new methodologies and technologies for students with special needs using the Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition model to guide their inquiry and infuse their teaching with technology, which affords students a variety of ways to interact with the curriculum materials and show their learning. A Grade 10 student explains: “The school has provided a lot of technology, which helps me in my classes. Things like Schoology and MyTools2Go help me stay organized and complete my work.”

Peer Helper/Leadership Classes

Peer helper and leadership classes, organized by the physical education, visual arts and dance departments, pair leadership students with life-skills students to support the latter academically, physically, emotionally and socially. The leadership students assist in the delivery of instruction and encourage the life-skills students to access their ability to communicate through body language, movement or art. In turn, the leaders increase their own capacity for empathy and leadership and gain useful social skills. These classes have resulted in 1) an increase in enthusiasm for each subject and in the ability to communicate and socialize; 2) a reduction in anxiety about socializing and learning with people of differing abilities; and 3) a marked improvement in the sense of well-being among both the leaders and the life-skills students. This initiative has assisted in transforming the Holy Names community into a more accepting and more effective learning and teaching environment for all.

“We have gone a long way to moving the culture here from good to great. Students are shown that they can be the authors of their own situation, take ownership of decisions and outcomes, are their brother’s and sister’s keepers and that we are all more alike than unalike. During grade-level assemblies, they are also reminded that they are each cared for here and that if they are struggling, they never have to do so in silence. They are always encouraged to reach out to a trusted adult in the building—regardless of title or occupation—and ask for help. They know that this is a safe space regardless of who they are, where they’re from or how they identify. When students are in this frame of mind, there are fewer distractions taking away from their ability to learn. This in turn creates an environment where it is understood by both teachers and students that academic success is supported and is achievable in every pathway. The data backs this up as well. I believe that these are some of the contributing factors that allow us to create and foster a culture of hope at Holy Names Catholic High School.”

— Patrick Hickson – Principal


How we analyze the data

Staff at Holy Names

  • Look at data from all available sources, including EQAO’s Item Information Reports, to inform teaching and the school improvement plan
  • Mine information from OSSLT results, the student questionnaire and the Item Information Report to identify trends and literacy defi cits, and to build the literacy component of their school improvement plan
  • Identify students who may need interventions and shape accommodations for IEPs using students’ Grade 3 and 6 results and a practice Grade 9 literacy test

How we put the data into action

  1. Share teaching strategies based on student profiles
  2. Meet as a learning community at least three times a semester
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