The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) selected Belleville’s Quinte Secondary School as one of six publicly-funded high schools of the hundreds across Ontario to profile in the Provincial Report on the Results of the 2008–2009 Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). The profiled schools are noted for their success at raising their students’ literacy skills, as demonstrated by improved OSSLT scores over the years.
In the report, staff members from Quinte Secondary School discuss what the results of EQAO’s testing and other data have taught them about their students, and the innovative approaches they are using to address their students’ needs.
EQAO case study: Quinte Secondary School, Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board, Belleville, Ontario
Quinte Secondary School serves a diverse student population of 850, including Aboriginal and international students, who for the most part have English as their first language. Although the school is in Belleville, 52% of its students are bused from rural areas.
At Quinte, the departmental Literacy Committee analyzes OSSLT and other EQAO data. The resulting information is used to help teachers refine their instructional practices to support all students. Although student results on the OSSLT have improved consistently over time, the 2008 EQAO data highlighted three areas of concern: reading and making connections, both implicit and explicit; the gender gap in achievement; and the success of previously eligible and students with special education needs.
To address these challenges, the school staff developed several strategies over the past year. One of them focused on increasing student motivation by appealing to their interests and giving them choice. To that end, the school staff decided to personalize the timetables of all Grade 9 students. This tactic turned out to have a positive impact on student performance and helped boost the credit success rate in both academic and applied courses.
“If you personalize a timetable, you can engage students, and if you engage students, you will increase their learning, which translates to increased numeracy, increased literacy and better learning for students.” – Lisa Vincent, Principal.
Over the past several months, EQAO staff visited a number of Ontario’s secondary schools. It was clear to these representatives that educators are regularly using the results from EQAO testing as a reference point to identify students in need of support. EQAO’s reliable and accurate data support continuous improvement in schools and boards and in individual students.
The proactive identification of at-risk students, the alignment and integration of literacy-focused curricula at both the elementary and the secondary levels, and a literacy focus across all subject areas are just some of the strategies that schools across Ontario are using to ensure the success of their students.
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• Kerry Donnell, Communications Officer, 613 966-1170 or 1 800 267-4350, ext. 2354.