Data and Schools: A Journey of Learning
Student population: 793; Grades: K–8
- Springbrook Public School is in an urban area that is developing at a rapid rate. The population has nearly doubled since the school opened four years ago. Many students are English language learners.
- Parents support the school and are always present for special events and evening presentations.
“The basic philosophy that my staff and I share is that every child can learn, but each one of them learns in different ways and at different rates. Our goal as educators is to inspire confidence in students to see themselves as valued learners.”— Principal
- EQAO Data: First the administrative team and instructional coach analyze EQAO data to see where students did well and where gaps exist for Grades 3 and 6. Then they formulate a plan of action to engage staff.
- Sharing Data: At staff meetings in September and October, educators link this analysis to report card data and diagnostic assessments of student work, such as PM Benchmarks, CASI (Comprehension, Attitudes, Strategies, Interests) and ONAP (Ontario Numeracy Assessment Package). After discussing what the data suggests, the team begins to formulate a school success plan.
- School Data: Teachers are able to view the questions and what the samples of student responses look like. This allows them to determine student need and what professional learning teachers require to meet those needs.
- If…Then…: Teachers work as grade-level math teams to develop a theory of action that encourages real professional learning and challenges current instructional and assessment practices. To identify areas for professional development, the school conducts a survey asking teachers about what they need to support student learning. Then the school creates and distributes its professional development budget accordingly.
- Monitoring Learning: To monitor progress throughout the school year, teachers pose questions like the following: What do students know? What do they need to learn, and how do we get them there? How will I know if they are successful? What are my next steps to make them successful in achieving the learning goals and the success criteria?
Students develop the confidence in math through peer and self-assessments. Students engage in problem solving in small groups, and they are empowered by sharing plans and seeing that there are various ways to solve math problems. Teachers look at math through an integrated lens. Math is linked to the real world and is not seen in isolation. For example, scenarios from math questions cover current events and social justice issues. The methods of Marian Small and Jo Boaler help teachers reflect on their practice to support student achievement.
Four-Part Problem-Solving Model
Teachers monitor student growth in both problem solving and the effective use of the T.A.C.K. model. The first step is “Think,” where students look for clues based on what they already know. The second step is “Apply a plan,” where students explain the steps to solving the problem. The third step is “Communicate,” where students show their work. Finally, “Knowledge” is the step where students cycle through the question and form an answer. Working in small groups, teachers differentiate instruction with play-based games that allow students to connect concepts to important lifelong skills. Teachers also apply the model in an after-school tutoring program that helps students build mathematical literacy, problem-solving skills and confidence.
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