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: 550
Principal: Michelle Probizanski
- Of Superior Collegiate students, 18% self-identify as Indigenous.
- Superior Collegiate offers after-school tutoring in math and literacy, twice a week, with snacks provided.
- In partnership with the Children’s Centre in Thunder Bay, the school also offers once-a-week group therapy for students.
- There are also breakfast and lunch programs.
Superior Collegiate and Vocational Institute, whose motto is “We are Superior, “opened in September 2009. Some of the students at Superior Collegiate move to Thunder Bay from remote communities in order to attend secondary school. Their transition into high school is therefore complex. Not only are they managing a significant school transition, they are also leaving their families and homes, boarding with host families and living in a large urban setting. All students are supported through walk-in counselling that is offered once a week in the school and a mental health relaxation room called the “Rest and Restore” room, in which students who are struggling can take a break.
“The preview test gave a good view on how the entire OSSLT would look. It gave me an idea on what I would have to study for and what I would have to think about during the entire thing. The preview OSSLT helped me to be successful on the real one.””
“They gave me feedback on my work and helped shape my opinions; I am pretty disorganized, so that sort of help was appreciated. I needed this help on the OSSLT and didn’t understand certain things; the coach helped me to reword my answers in order to succeed”
“With the coaching in the classroom, I felt better prepared for the test when it was time to write. The work on the long answers that the coach did with us helped us with examples and gave us support on how we could make it better so that we could succeed”— Students
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?
Staff access EQAO cohort data—contextual, achievement, behavioural and attitudinal—through EQAO’s reporting tool and analyze them for trends and patterns. Subgroups of students are tracked over time as well. The information derived from the EQAO data along with data from school climate surveys, credit accumulation reports, report cards, attendance reports and certain demographic profiles allows the staff to develop a thorough understanding of student need and growth areas. This data analysis has led to the discovery that students with IEPs struggle to identify the organizational pattern in reading selections, the selection’s main idea and specific details from the text that support the students’ ideas. All departments now provide instruction and practice opportunities for developing these cross-curricular literacy skills, and recreational reading has been incorporated into English classes as a way to foster the love of reading both in and out of school.
“A colleague I respect in the field of psychology once told me that every day students need to come to school and feel competent, valued, trusted and hopeful. Everything I do in my school is to foster this culture. I ask that my staff look at students’ strengths to drive the relationships they build with students each day. It is through these strengths-based relationships that students feel trusted and valued, competent as students and ultimately hopeful for the future.”— Michelle Probizanski, Principal
What initiatives have contributed to this improvement?
“After writing the practice test, and receiving feedback, students are given the opportunity to express what they need to be successful on the OSSLT. Self-advocacy is embedded into a lot of what we do in special education so that students are able to identify and articulate their needs in a variety of settings. Coaching and awareness help reduce stress and, in my opinion, [add] to success. Staff at Superior are great at supporting and encouraging students to do their best.”— Kristine Hilden, Special Education Facilitator
Prompted by discussion with students and parents, Superior Collegiate offers a full practice test in the fall to help alleviate students’ anxieties about the OSSLT. This practice test also informs educators, parents and students of strengths and needs early on. Further, through self-assessment, students with IEPs gain a full understanding of which accommodations are most effective for them. All students have the opportunity to sit down with a coach, review the test and discuss strengths and needs in order to set goals for improvement. Some students receive one-on-one assistance in evaluating their answers to open-response items and in using the student samples to make improvements. As well, teachers are able to focus their instruction on students who are in need of continued intervention and give confidence to those who are fully prepared for the OSSLT.
Communication with Parents
“The initiatives in our school have increased the confidence students feel approaching the test. They know what to expect on the test and they know which strategies they need to employ to be successful.”— Jennifer Kuzmich, Teacher
Communication with parents has contributed enormously to student success. In Grade 9, a personalized letter is mailed home outlining each student’s results on the pre-assessment, as well as their Grade 6 EQAO results. Parents are informed of the interventions that will be made and given suggestions for support at home. Parents are given the phone number of the literacy lead and invited cordially to discuss the plan with her and/or the administration. This increased and personalized communication has created a team approach to supporting students and helping them achieve their full potential.
“Working one-on-one with the literacy coach had a positive impact on students’ classroom work. Students made gains in their ability to make a connection between their answer and the specific details used to support it.”— Shelly-Ann Pope-Cameron, Teacher
One-on-one coaching has been effective for students with special needs. Through it, students have the opportunity to engage in self-assessment until the day of the OSSLT. This provides them with the opportunity to understand the accommodations they will be given, to use them regularly throughout the school year and to decide with the coach and their parents which skills to focus on. This contributes to self-advocacy, which is an extremely important life skill for all students to develop, but especially for those with special education needs.
“Every day students need to come to school and feel competent, valued, trusted and hopeful. Everything I do in my school is to foster this culture. I ask that my staff look at students’ strengths to drive the relationships they build with students each day. It is through these strengths-based relationships that students feel trusted and valued, competent as students and ultimately hopeful for the future.”— Michelle Probizanski, Principal
How we analyze the data
Staff at Superior CVI
- Access EQAO cohort data (contextual, achievement, behavioral and attitudinal) through EQAO’s reporting tool and analyze them for trends and patterns
- Use EQAO data (alongside data from school climate surveys, credit accumulation reports, report cards, attendance reports and certain demographic profiles) to develop an understanding of student needs and growth areas
- Send personalized letters to parents of Grade 9 students outlining their child’s pre-assessment and Grade 6 EQAO results to encourage a team approach to supporting students
How we put the data into action
- Offer a full practice test to help alleviate students’ anxieties
- Have students with IEPs conduct self-assessments to understand their accommodations and learning strategies
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