Thursday, September 24, 2009

EQAO Improved through Focused Analysis

Here is a section from the EQAO Connects e-newsletter, talking about the improvement that one school had in their math results:

"Similarly inspiring are recent improvements in Father Venini’s Grade 3 math results. The team called upon the board numeracy consultant to help identify problems and develop solutions. A breakthrough came when the Grade 3 team reviewed The Ontario Curriculum and mapped it to the classroom textbook. Muir states: “The curriculum is specific about what students should learn and comprehend at each stage of their education. However, the curriculum and the textbook don’t always align.” The educators were able to streamline their teaching by concentrating on items from the textbook relevant to the curriculum.

The math consultant brought diagnostic techniques to the school, made recommendations to remediate gaps, helped the team focus and even taught lessons (e.g., a class on probability using a computer-generated model). The team now uses Math Makes Sense and the boxes and boxes of manipulatives that come with the text. Muir and Doiron believe that it is important for teachers to be familiar with these tools and to recognize that a child is thinking when using blocks. The teachers at Father Venini have seen these tools work. And their student achievement results demonstrate their effectiveness.

The mathematics team is also using continuum-based math with diagnostic tools that assess students’ counting, computation and performance of operations. This diagnostic assessment occurs just before a six-week teaching block and shows the gaps in a child’s numeracy skills development. The staff discovered there were students in Grade 3 who couldn’t count past 100. Muir states, “Students are great at coping, and normal lessons don’t reveal these gaps.” The teachers use the diagnostic data to target group teaching, with small student-group withdrawal for explicit, focused teaching. The primary division team is astounded at how quickly students have progressed.

Muir, Doiron and the rest of primary division staff now feel capable of quickly adapting teaching strategies to address each child’s needs. The statistical data are allowing teachers to learn about and reflect on students’ individual learning.

Of particular note at Father Venini is the fact that the team is not using new resources but is putting resources that have been around for several years to work. “We haven’t created anything truly unique,” says Doiron “We used a lot of the tools made available by our board and put [them] together to work for us.”

This is definitely something we are capable of as a district.

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