Grade 9 math results mixed

Heather Latter

The Rainy River District School Board will focus on improvement, and continue to work toward student success, when it comes to the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) Grade 9 assessment of mathematics and the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT).
The 2012-13 results were released last week and show areas where improvement is needed.
“We have to focus on the Grade 9 math applied program,” noted Superintendent of Education Casey Slack.
“We’re going to take a close look at that,” he stressed.
A total of 253 board students wrote the EQAO Grade 9 assessment of mathematics.
In Applied Mathematics, just 33 percent of local students achieved at or above the provincial standard of Level 3 and Level 4, which is 11 percent below both the provincial average and the previous year’s results.
In Academic Mathematics, meanwhile, 86 percent of local students achieved at or above the provincial level of achievement, which is above the provincial average of 84 percent.
It also is 16 percentage points higher than results achieved five years ago.
To help improve scores in the applied program, Slack said the local public board plans to provide focused interventions in Grades 7-9 in terms of a professional learning community.
“We’re bringing teachers together across the system with a focus on numeracy and literacy, and sharing best practices,” he explained, noting they have specific goals related to numeracy and literacy and develop strategic plans around that.
“Our renewed focused is linking those intermediate years with the high school,” Slack remarked.
“Sometimes that transition poses problems and the more we make it a seamless segue [the better], and our aim is by enhancing collaboration between the teachers so there is clarity of expectations on what’s required of students. . . .
“One of the refreshing things about our board is some years you look at the snapshots and there’s great results, and sometimes they are satisfactory results,” Slack added.
“But we always look a little deep and try to establish the next steps so we are constantly improving,” he stressed.
“And it is a process.”
With the OSSLT, written by 242 local students for the first time last spring, 74 percent were successful in passing.
This is just one percent lower than the previous year’s results and eight percent below the provincial average.
Students either must pass the OSSLT, or successfully complete the Ontario Secondary Literacy Course, as one of the 32 requirements for an Ontario secondary school diploma.
Slack indicated the percentage of fully participating students has risen over the past few years, with just two percent being deferred.
“We have a high rate of students writing the literacy test,” he remarked. “We like to see as many students writing the test as possible.
“If you defer some students, sometimes that can affect your results in a positive way,” he noted.
“But we’ve always taken the angle that more students writing the test from the start [will] have more opportunities to secure that literacy requirement for graduation.”
Along with other school boards across the province, there has been an increase in RRDSB students completing the Ontario Secondary Literacy Course.