Precision learning during the pandemic
Mathematics assessment tools and coaching
In 2020, a new elementary Mathematics curriculum was introduced in Ontario, updating the content of math curriculum and the methods used to deliver it. To support this change, HPEDSB developed new K-8 mathematics assessment tools, founded in the new curriculum, to assist educators and administrators in knowing their learners and creating the best strategies to support their achievement. These tools focused on the fundamentals of math, including whole numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, decimals, and percentages.
Within the 2020-2021 school year, a total of 15 schools received targeted math support, with all 11 of the Ministry-identified intensive support schools in HPEDSB participating in the new curriculum service model; many opting for follow-up rounds of support from instructional coaches.
In consultation with both curriculum and school teams, coaches were paired with two “early adopter” classroom educators in each school for a three-to-four-week block of time. Instructional coaches supported the educators in collecting student data using board-developed numeracy diagnostic tools, then used that data to determine instructional next steps at both the class and small-group levels. The emphasis of the coaching was on making connections between the supports embedded in the new math curriculum (continuums, sample tasks, high-impact instructional practices) and their positive impact on student learning.
The results showed that when educators purposefully used the data to identify a specific area of need, applied direct instruction related to that need, and allowed for practise, there was a marked increase in student achievement, within relatively short timelines. The graph below shows an overall increase in student understanding of concepts in mathematics.
In summary, there was a 29% decrease in questions coded as a challenge, a 10% decrease in questions coded as wondering, and a 38% increase in questions coded as an asset.
Co-teaching allowed for educators to reflect on their content knowledge, share best practices, and discuss how to reach all learners. The analysis of student work enabled greater precision of instruction, feedback and collaboration, as coaches worked with school teams to purposefully align resources with intentional direct instruction.
Mathematics professional learning
As part of our commitment to learning together with our students, HPEDSB enhanced professional development in mathematics for educators by sponsoring various learning opportunities in 2021:
- Over 150 teachers and administrators attended the Ontario Association of Mathematics Education (OAME) and the Quinte St. Lawrence Mathematics Association (QSLMA) conferences.
- Professor of Education from the University of Ottawa, Research Advisor to the Ministry of Education, Dr. Chris Suurtamm facilitated afterschool leadership sessions for administrators to further support the implementation of the new Mathematics Curriculum.
- The Ministry of Education subsidized Mathematics Additional Qualifications courses for 50 HPEDSB elementary and secondary educators for the 2021-2022 school year.
French language instruction
In 2021, HPEDSB enhanced French language learning by providing new digital programs to all elementary schools. The new programs, C’est Parti (Grades 4-6 Core French) and Mon réseau, ma vie (Grades 7-8 Core French) are engaging resources that focus on verbal communication through action-oriented tasks in practical, real-life situations. The programs align with board and Ministry goals, the Ontario French as a Second Language (FSL) Curriculum, and the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), which prepare students to succeed at the DELF (Diplôme d’études en langue française – Diploma in French Language Studies) exam in Grade 12 and receive international recognition as French bilingual.
To help remove barriers caused by limited testing access for HPE students, HPEDSB fully subsidized summer professional development for all interested FSL teachers to acquire a DELF examiner certification. The DELF is an internationally recognized French Language Proficiency Certificate awarded by France’s national Ministry of Education.
Following the training, HPEDSB had seven certified DELF examiners, an important step toward offering the DELF exam within the region to all students in HPEDSB, and to mitigate the financial and transportation challenges faced by students who must travel out of the region to complete the exam.
English Language Learners (ELLs)
English language learners (ELLs) are students whose first language is a language other than English who may require focused educational support to assist them in attaining English proficiency. These students may be Canadian born or recently arrived from other countries. They come from diverse backgrounds and school experiences, with a wide variety of strengths and individual needs.
In 2021, schools in HPEDSB provided direct K-8 support for over 65 ELLs and indirect support for close to 45.
The Steps Towards English Proficiency (STEP) Assessment, a Ministry-approved ELL proficiency test, was used to evaluate students’ proficiency in the English language, and showed that students experienced a positive impact in oral, reading and writing components of (STEP) assessment.
Grades 1-8 summer learning program
Recognizing the impacts of the pandemic on student learning, the Ministry of Education provided funding to school boards to deliver summer learning programming to students in Grades 1-8 to mitigate learning loss during the course of the summer, to support increased student achievement, and to close learning gaps in literacy and numeracy. Every student participant had been identified having gaps in foundational literacy and fundamental math skills.
The Grade 1-8 summer learning program involved:
- 19 classes
- 261 students
- 32 teachers
- 11 educational assistants
- 2 early childhood educators
- 1 principal
Each class had two teachers and a shared Educational Assistant, which offered many opportunities for small group and individualized instruction. Students developed new fundamental math skills and made significant progress closing gaps in their foundational literacy skills, with many students achieving mastery of early phonemic and phonological awareness skills. Student profiles were created based upon collected pre- and post-assessment data and shared with home schools and fall educators.