Maxwell Heights Secondary School

Map of Ontario displaying the City of Oshawa

2018 School Recipient of the Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement

Data and Schools: A Journey of Learning

Student population: 1652; Grades: 9–12
  • The Maxwell Heights Secondary School community is very diverse. Many families are new to the area. Some families have moved from larger urban centres, and some families are new to Canada.
  • Parents and guardians are very involved with their children’s transition to high school. About 85 per cent of parents and guardians attend the first day of school with their Grade 9 students.
“We believe all students can learn mathematics. They need to be taught the foundation knowledge and skills explicitly and cumulatively by teachers who care about math and have strong subject knowledge.”
— Department Head of Mathematics


  1. Transition Planning: At the beginning of the school year, educators review individual students’ Grades 3 and 6 EQAO results to support students through interventions and gap closing.
  2. Groups of Interest: Administrators and teachers review the EQAO data, looking at how specific groups have performed and comparing their results to the overall board and provincial results.
  3. Informing Instruction: Next, the detailed EQAO Item Information Report is reviewed to compare board results to the school’s results on specific questions. Observations inform instruction with future cohorts.
  4. Moderated Marking: Following the administration of the EQAO Grade 9 math assessment, the math team moderates the marking of the entire assessment. Teachers look for patterns and trends in student performance to help them identify areas of strength and gaps in skills or knowledge. In response, teachers adjust their teaching strategies to fill in the gaps for the following semester or subsequent year.


One Class for All

Maxwell Heights’ Grade 9 math classes consist of both applied and academic-level students. Multi-level math classes allow for peer modelling and peer mentoring, which help to maintain a learning-focused classroom environment. Students benefit from the combined-level structure, as indicated by increasing percentages of students performing at or above the provincial standard. Teachers have also indicated that the learning-focused culture of the classroom has had a positive effect on all students.

Common Assessments and Moderated Marking

A common assessment is administered at the start of the Grade 9 math course to inform teacher instruction and to allow students to set goals for themselves. This is followed by cumulative assessment at mid-term. This allows teachers to possibly replace some marks from Term 1 assessments if they see student growth in any particular skills. The team of Grade 9 math teachers are released to mark the EQAO Grade 9 math assessment. To ensure fairness and equity each teacher is assigned a particular question to assess for all students. Each question is discussed to inform teacher practice and improve curriculum delivery. The diagnostic assessment administered at the beginning of the course and the EQAO Grade 9 math assessment both allow teachers to monitor and measure student learning over the entire year.
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