Maple High School

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

Maple High School, York Region District School Board

Student population: 1175; Grades: 9–12; Principal: John Sebastiano

  • Maple High School is located across the street from Canada’s Wonderland.
  • Approximately 65% of students speak another language other than English at home, and 30% are English language learners.
  • Having opened in 2002, Maple High School is a relatively new school.
  • The school is known as the “Home of Scholars, Leaders, Athletes and Artists.”
Left to right: John Sebastiano (Principal), Espedito Schiafone, Shawn Perry, Meaghan O’Connor

Maple High School is a warm and welcoming community hub that hosts events and community groups in the evenings and on weekends. Math has been a major focus for school improvement planning for many years. The math department has a strong representation of female teachers.

EQAO questionnaires indicate that most students like mathematics, understand the math they’re taught, and believe that the math they are learning in Grade 9 is relevant to their future education.

“On the first day of school, our teacher asked who likes math and who doesn’t and then she said, “I’ll make sure that you like it by the end of the semester.” She used different subject examples, like science, to show us how math is connected to these subjects.”

— Student

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.

“My daughter always found her math teacher to be approachable and open to explaining the concepts whenever she had questions. The teachers at Maple also really encourage students to help their peers and work together to figure out the concepts, especially when they were transitioning from Grade 8 to Grade 9 math.”

— Parent

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?

The staff analyzed Grade 6 and Grade 9 EQAO results and used the data to set specific targets for improvement on the Grade 9 math assessment. The Grade 9 results have improved steadily over the past five years, and the results for students in the academic course have been consistently high. EQAO results have played an important role as the school has determined the areas of focus for professional learning based on students’ strengths and needs. Staff used the online reporting application to track cohort data from Grade 6 EQAO results. Teachers, with support from the department head, looked at the areas of need and then adjusted the course of study each year in response to EQAO results.

What initiatives have contributed to this improvement?

Maple Math Transition Network

Teachers and administrators from Maple High School worked with curriculum consultants to improve their understanding of math concepts and instructional strategies to support students with identified needs. A network with Maple’s partner elementary schools functioned over several years with a changing focus to adjust to the changing needs of the students in Grades 7 to 9. Maple teachers worked with Grades 7 and 8 teachers to co-plan and co-teach. Maple staff analyzed Grade 6 EQAO data at their partner schools and used the data to inform instruction. Release time allowed for cross-panel co-planning and co-teaching in both elementary and secondary classrooms. All learning sessions paired math content learning for teachers and administrators, and each session began with the participants doing a math problem together and then discussing their learning.

Developing a Positive Math Mindset

Members of the math department worked to build strong, positive relationships with students with the intention of creating classrooms where students felt that they belonged and felt safe to take risks with support from their teachers and their peers. Math teachers participated in professional learning activities that supported math talk communities and students developed self-confidence and a belief that they “can do math.” Teachers focused on their language choices, lesson plans, anchor charts and classroom decor to ensure that math was presented as a challenge that all students could rise to.

Dedicated Math Support

Using a coaching/mentorship model, the math department head and student success teacher focused on providing dedicated math support to Grade 9 teachers through monthly focus activities and classroom visits. After-school math literacy classes and fall and March break classes increased numeracy skills for students identified as requiring extra math support. Data from the Grade 6 EQAO assessment and elementary school report cards were analyzed, and students who had not met the provincial standard in Grade 6 were identified as being at risk of not meeting it in Grade 9. These hand-selected students participated in focused learning and skill-development, which involved extra resources and activities designed to increase confidence.

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