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: 1,043
Principal: Colin Anderson
- Developed programs in all pathways (workplace, college, university) and a broad spectrum of programming in the arts and technology.
- Approximately 90% of students are bussed.
- Majority of students come from middle-class suburban families; however, the school has a healthy population of students from small villages and other rural locations, reflecting a broad mix of socio-economic realities.
- Teachers from various subject areas have come together to create consistency in the vocabulary commonly used in evaluation.
South Carleton serves a large catchment area on the rural boundaries of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. It offers both regular and French Immersion programs. Approximately 25% of the school population has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and is receiving services from the special education department. To combat the challenge of most students being bused to school, the administration implemented lunchtime support sessions and allows students to leave class early to attend these sessions.
“Essential to creating a culture of hope is the creation of an environment that supports success for all. Through staffing and resource-allocation strategies that prioritize support for applied- and essential-level learners, we have helped ensure our neediest learners get the best possible chance of success. When we see we need to change (either not doing something well enough or when a new strategy is identified that might improve our success), we do not hesitate to make that change—this reflective and responsive culture empowers staff and students to always be on the lookout for improvement.”— Colin Anderson, Principal
What is the profile of this school community?
OSSLT STUDENT POPULATION
(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?
South Carleton staff members analyze the results from the EQAO Junior assessment alongside other data sources including feeder school transition meetings, Grade 9 achievement reports, teacher feedback, the Grade 9 practice OSSLT, attendance records, school climate surveys, and student’s IEP’s to determine which students are at risk. Teachers are given Professional development and support so they can implement and monitor a variety of strategies, as well as focus their instruction on specific gaps and individual student needs. The literacy team, which includes the teachers and guidance department, meet with students regularly to review their IEP accommodations, promote self-advocacy, improve attitudes toward accommodation and support, reduce anxiety and support them in the writing of the OSSLT.
“Having my evaluations printed on blue paper helps with my reading and helps me to focus on the words. Using a scribe makes it easier to get my ideas down on paper faster so I don’t lose my train of thought and can focus on planning out what I want to say. These strategies have really helped me to succeed throughout high school.”— Student
What initiatives have contributed to this improvement?
Targeted Literacy Support Groups
South Carleton uses practice test data, feeder school and class achievement information, EQAO results from the junior-division assessment and OSSLT (for previously eligible writers), and anecdotal teacher feedback to determine categories of need for students who are potentially at risk. As a result of these data, First Time Eligible and Previously Eligible writers are grouped according to need for participation in boot camps. These boot camps consists of multiple sessions that focus on the identified skill deficit—reading, writing or both—using exemplars and online learning material as a tool for differentiation.
There were several challenges with the boot camp model. Initially, the sessions were only offered at lunch. Even with parents’ encouragement and the promise of a free lunch, it was a struggle to get students to participate. These sessions were also a strain on the staff running the program. The boot camp model evolved so that school and board funds were used to hire supply teachers to assist with the lunch-hour sessions and to deliver sessions during class time. Those students who were not willing to give up their lunch hour were allowed to leave class to participate in additional sessions. Data showed that at-risk students who participated in this program achieved higher levels of success than those who declined the opportunity to participate.
Initiative 2 Title Support for Assistive Technology
Originally, the practice tests and classroom assignments did not include any accommodations for exceptional learners, so it was unclear if students’ struggles with these sessions and the OSSLT were entirely related to literacy or partly due to accommodations not being provided. Students were asked to give feedback on the accommodations available to them in the classroom and for evaluations, and this feedback was used to provide additional training on reading and writing strategies. It also helped bring extra support from the Learning Support Teacher, ITAT (Itinerant Teacher of Assistive Technology) and classroom teachers as appropriate.
Staff were trained on Read&Write for Google Chrome to promote its use in the classroom. Students using computers as an accommodation found that the addition of more technology in classrooms (Computers on Wheels of 15 laptops and buckets of five Chromebooks) and in the learning commons (a lending library of Chromebooks for class/daily/overnight use) normalized the use of technology. As a result, exceptional learners felt that they did not stand out when they used their technologically based accommodations.
Strategies for Building Familiarity and Comfort with the Test Environment
A practice literacy test was introduced for Grade 9 students to write on the same day as the administration of the OSSLT. This practice test was designed to help reduce anxiety for students when they wrote the real assessment the following year, and it also provided great data on the likelihood of their success on the actual OSSLT. In addition, biweekly literacy-focused practice sessions were introduced in every Grade 10 classroom (regardless of subject) to further increase familiarity with test questions and to highlight which students would need additional support. Data was used from the practice test, the classroom sessions, feeder school data, EQAO Junior assessment results and teacher feedback to identify groups of first-time writers in need of targeted support sessions.
Reflecting current research from EQAO and best practices, a new strategy evolved to replace the Grade 9 practice test and Grade 10 classroom sessions. It offered an assembly along with a modified practice test for First Time Eligible writers in the month prior to the OSSLT. This change lowered the number of students involved in the subsequent targeted literacy-support groups (boot camps) by excluding those who had improved over the past year to be successful.
“Teachers and administrators use multiple data sources to identify literacy gaps. This data is used to provide differentiated and focused support to students as well as to guide staff professional development”— Colin Anderson, Principal
How we analyze the data
Staff South Carleton
- Use the results from the EQAO junior assessment alongside data from other sources to identify students at risk
- Use data from the EQAO junior assessment alongside data from other sources to identify groups of fi rst-time OSSLT writers in need of targeted support sessions
How we put the data into action
- Hold “boot camps” consisting of multiple sessions that focus on skills identified as needing improvement
- Introduce practice OSSLT tests for Grade 9 students to reduce anxiety
- Encourage students to offer feedback on available accommodations in the classroom and for evaluations
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