2016 School Recipient of the Dr. Bette M. Stephenson Recognition of Achievement
Student population: 305; Grades: K–8; Principal: Janet Foote
- Approximately 43% of the school population is composed of English language learners.
- Twenty percent of students have Individual Education Plans (IEPs).
- The student population is fairly transient.
- The whole school population participates in the Nutrition for Learning breakfast program daily.
St. Aloysius Catholic Elementary School, located in downtown Kitchener, serves a significantly high multicultural and multilingual student population. Teachers have taken a learning stance where they invest in their own learning (growth mindset) and are very open to collaboration among staff. Teachers in leadership roles support the learning stance, and the principal is seen as a co-learner and is at the table learning alongside her teachers.
“Our data shows that students struggle with spatial reasoning, specifically visualizing when problem solving. Teachers are working toward developing a common understanding of spatial reasoning in order to facilitate the use of visual models and strategies throughout their balanced numeracy program.”— Teacher
EQAO considered schools that:
- had a significant proportion of students who did not meet the provincial math standard in Grade 3 but who improved to meet it when they were in Grade 6 and
- maintained or increased the overall number of students meeting the provincial standard in math.
What is the profile of this school community?
Profile of Grade 3 and Grade 6 Students
Special education needs
English language learners
Born outside Canada
First language learned at home was other than English
How have the results improved?
At St. Aloysius, the EQAO math results have played a significant role in helping staff identify the problem of practice—visualization through spatial reasoning. Analyzing the cluster of transformational geometry and visual patterning questions in the Item Information Report (IIR) and looking at this data relative to classroom assessment data, staff confirmed gaps in student learning in math. Further analysis of the EQAO achievement results helped staff set the direction and goals for students at Levels 1 and 2 in Grade 3 to improve to meet or exceed the provincial math standard in Grade 6. While the attitudes of students toward math seem quite positive, the staff also look carefully at the Student Questionnaire results to see if there is a change in attitudes from year to year and if a culture shift is required.
What initiatives have contributed to this improvement?
Closing the Gap from Grade 3 Through Grade 6 for Students Achieving Below or Just at Level 3
Early in the school year, staff identify gaps in Grade 3 math. Using released math questions from previous EQAO tests, staff create a mock test and administer it to all Grade 3 students. The mock test helps staff to identify any gaps in learning as well as any Levels 2 and 3 learners. These students are monitored and tracked through monthly meetings. Later in the year, the same test is administered again to ensure that gaps have been closed. Recognizing that even though some students are achieving at Level 3 in Grade 3, staff also monitor, track and focus on strategies through Grades 4, 5 and 6 to help students who are achieving at the lower end of Level 3.
Empowering Students to Self-Analyze Their Work Using the Three Vs and EQAO Scoring Codes
To assist in the students’ academic understanding and progression, the Grade 6 teacher uses the three Vs—visualize, verbalize and verify—and introduces students to the characteristics of the four EQAO scoring codes and anecdotal descriptions using the achievement-chart language in EQAO scoring materials, so students can gain confidence in their own work for the purpose of improvement. Students dissect the four scoring codes to know what each code looks like and why work is considered to be at each code. Students have gained the confidence to not only analyze their own work (self-reflect, self-assess), but also to analyze that of their peers as a means to support one another. According to the students in this classroom setting, it should be noted that all students are encouraged to work to the best of their abilities throughout the year!
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