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Previously unsuccessful students meet provincial standards in EQAO assessments
September 21, 2016

Today the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) released 2016 results of assessments in primary and junior division literacy and mathematics, Grade 9 mathematics and the Grade 10 literacy test. Results for the Limestone District School Board indicate there has been a drop in achievement across all levels.

Despite these reductions, Limestone students have sustained gains in key areas including those with special needs, and students in Grade 9 and 10 who previously did not meet the provincial standards in Grade 6 writing and math.

Limestone District School Board students with special needs continue to exceed the provincial average in the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). In 2016, Limestone students with special needs achieved a 49% success rate, 5% higher than the provincial average. The proportion of students with special needs in Limestone remains 13% higher than the average for the province.

In Limestone, 47%, or 156 students, who did not achieve the provincial writing standard in Grade 6, met the standard in Grade 10. Also, 256 students, or 45%, who did not meet the provincial math standard in Grade 6 rose to the standard in Grade 9.

“Given the wide range of students with diverse learning needs and challenges in our district, we are pleased to see we are sustaining our gains among these learners,” says Director of Education Debra Rantz. “We are also excited to see that we have moved a significant number of students to the provincial standard in both literacy and math who were previously unsuccessful.”

Like most other boards in Ontario, math results continue to fall in Limestone. “Our results in Limestone are not unique. Provincially, math is a challenge,” says Rantz. “We have, and will continue, to make math teaching and learning a priority among our staff and students. We have been getting better at the early identification of students who are not meeting math expectations and we will remain focused on supporting these students.”

Although the implementation of some strategies for improving math scores were delayed due to job action last year, the Board remains committed to improving students’ understanding and proficiency in math in Limestone.

Elementary school students receive at least 300 minutes of math instruction each week (about 60 minutes a day). Every elementary school has one identified math lead (larger schools have two), all of whom have and will continue to participate in professional leaning related to math. Every elementary and secondary school has new math teacher resources, and the upcoming PA Day for staff in October will focus on math. The Board has several school-based math facilitators to assist with math learning in the classroom. One secondary school piloted a “head start” math program for students entering Grade 9.

Additionally, several elementary School Councils have scheduled interactive family math nights to provide parents with strategies and resources to support math learning at home.

Ensuring students and families understand the rationale for today’s inquiry-based math and the importance of math in every day learning is also vital. Inquiry-based math encourages students to use critical thinking skills to break down problems while using physical materials to boost their understanding.

“There needs to be a balanced approach to math, with students exploring how math works as well as the basics,” explains Rantz. “We need to change the mindset around students not liking math or not feeling they are good at math as this, too, can impact a student’s performance.”

Over the coming weeks, principals will share school results with their school communities and will analyze the results in detail to identify next steps. All parents or guardians with a child who participated in the assessments will receive their child’s individual results in the next month, and will include school, board and provincial results.

“It’s important to remember that results are a snapshot in time. Boards combine EQAO results with report card grades and classroom assessment to provide a complete picture of student knowledge so we can move forward and implement strategies that will ensure all students are given they supports they need to succeed.”

The Ministry of Education has set Level 3 as the provincial standard. On report cards, students achieving at or above the provincial standard of level 3 receive a letter grade from B- to A+ in Grades 3 and 6, and a percentage grade from 70% to 100% in Grade 9 Mathematics.

Students in all publicly-funded schools in Ontario are required to write provincial assessments, administered by EQAO, a provincial body that tests students’ skills in literacy in Grades 3, 6 and 10 and math skills in Grades 3, 6 and 9 in relation to Ontario Curriculum expectations. Successful completion of the literacy requirement is one of the requirements to earn an Ontario Secondary School Diploma.

2016 Highlights

Primary Assessment (administered in Grade 3):


Area of Assessment
LDSB
Province
Reading
62%
72%
Writing
64%
74%
Mathematics
50%
63%

Junior Assessment (administered in Grade 6):


Area of Assessment
LDSB
Province
Reading
73%
81%
Writing
67%
80%
Mathematics
34%
50%

Grade 9 Mathematics Assessment:

In Grade 9 Mathematics, the proportion of students who met or exceeded the provincial standard was 77% in Academic Mathematics, and 41% in Applied Mathematics. Both results show positive trends over the past five years, with gains since 2010.

In Limestone, 47% or 256 students, who did not meet the provincial math standard in Grade 6 rose to the standard in Grade 9.

The gap between the results of the Applied and Academic assessments is significantly smaller in Limestone than for the province as a whole.


Grade 9 Mathematics Assessment
LDSB
Province
Special education success-Academic
66%
71%
Special education success-Applied
40%
37%
Academic Math
77%
83%
Applied Math
41%
45%
Students who rose to provincial standard from Grade 6
45%

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (administered in Grade 10):

Limestone continues to make full participation in provincial assessments a high priority. This year 96% of the 1,393 first-time eligible students wrote the literacy test, compared with 92% provincially. The proportion of all first-time eligible students in Limestone who were successful fell 2% to 73%.

The Board’s deferral rate stayed consistent at 1% this year, down from 5% in 2009 and 5% lower than the provincial average. Only 2% of Limestone students with special education needs were deferred from writing the test this year, compared with an average of 12% across the province.

Students who are not successful on their first attempt are eligible to rewrite the test the following year, or to meet the literacy requirement by taking the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course. Of the Limestone students who were previously eligible to write the literacy test, 52% were completing the literacy requirement for graduation by completing the literacy course. The success rate for the 158 previously eligible students who wrote the test this year was 59%, compared to the 49% provincial success rate. Students who were unsuccessful, absent or deferred will be eligible for another attempt in the 2015-2016 school year.


Grade 10 OSSLT
LDSB
Province
Participation rate
96%
92%
Success rate
73%
75%
Special education participation
93%
85%
Special education success
49%
44%
Academic English
88%
90%
Applied English
44%
42%
Students who rose to provincial standard from Grade 6
47%