With the release of province-wide testing results by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), the Northwest Catholic District School Board is celebrating the continued improvement with its scores.
“We’re very, very happy with the results,” Education Director Mary-Catherine Kelly said of the board’s achievement when it comes to the provincial testing that saw its Grade 3 and 6 students evaluated in reading, writing, and mathematics.
“The big success story is what’s happening with our Grade 6’s,” she noted, explaining the board looks at EQAO results over a five-year period.
“What’s really exciting is that when you take the same group of kids who were in Grade 3, and look at how their scores progressed when they’re in Grade 6, we’re seeing huge, huge increases,” Kelly said, referring to what this year’s data is showing.
Scores for boards and schools are based upon the percentage of students who achieve a Level 3 or 4 on the testing—considered “at” or “above” the provincial standard, respectively.
“Between Grade 3 and Grade 6 [with] the same cohort, we saw in reading a 13 percent increase, in writing a 10 percent increase, and in math a 12 percent increase,” Kelly noted.
“So those are the kind of scores that are really significant.”
The Catholic board also has seen in a five-year period increases in the Grade 3 scores.
As for individual school, Kelly pointed to St. Michael’s School here which saw Grade 3’s scoring 71 in reading, 80 in writing, and 90 in mathematics.
Meanwhile, Grade 6 students at St. Francis also have seen “outstanding results,” she added, with an 85 in reading, 80 in writing, and 80 in mathematics.
Since 75 is the provincial target, all of these scores are above the provincial averages, Kelly noted.
“In the 80s and 90s is just tops in the province, so that’s really outstanding scores,” she enthused.
Because of the smaller school population at Our Lady of the Way in Stratton, their scores have not been released to the public. But Kelly said that school also has seen some increases—and high results when it comes to reading and writing.
Increases in all three areas over the five years also have been seen at Sacred Heart School in Sioux Lookout, she noted, while St. Joseph’s School in Dryden has shown a jump in scores when it comes to the comparing the current Grade 6’s with their old Grade 3 results.
Having just been amalgamated into the local Catholic board, St. Patrick’s School in Atikokan wasn’t included in the NCDSB’s data.
But Kelly said their scores also were high, with Grade 3’s reaching a 70 in reading, 78 in writing, and 65 in math and Grade 6’s attaining 88 percent in reading.
“There’s lots of things, actually, that I would say are some of the reasons [for the high scores],” said Kelly.
These include targeting resources, collecting data on students, giving teachers relief time to collect other sorts of assessment data such as DRI and CASI, using Critical Learning Pathways, differentiated instruction, small class sizes, small group instruction, “high-yield strategies,” as well as professional development through integrated teaching and collaborative marking, and targeting time tabling so staff work in their “high skill areas.”
Kelly also pointed to the contribution of the literacy coaches which the board also has had for a couple of years—coaching they now have the opportunity to build upon even more since receiving government funding for a math tutor.
But while the board is celebrating its successes, Kelly stressed they still are looking to how there can be improvements.
“What’s happened is there’s been a lot of emphasis on the reading and writing, [and] we’ve been seeing those increases happening.
“But we’re above the provincial averages in the math [yet] we’ve been kind of staying around that level,” she noted, explaining that with math scores “hovering” in the 70s, the next step is to see if they can take that up to the 80s.
While the test results are an indicator of achievement, Kelly agreed with her public board counterparts that the EQAO is just one of the many tools boards use to evaluate student learning.
“We always want to make sure that we keep it in perspective,” she stressed. “EQAO is a skill test that is done at one point in the year, and it’s not the only way that we know how the kids are doing well.
“It’s a combination of the DRI, the CASI, the ongoing assessments, the Critical Learning Pathways, and all that tracking and all of that along the way all builds part of how we end up reporting students achievements.
“EQAO results are just one piece of the whole puzzle, but it is an indicator,” she remarked. “It gives us a sense of how our kids are doing over five-year periods and how a cohort is doing year to year.”
For more information on the EQAO, including individual school results, visit www.eqao.com