Students in Toronto Catholic Schools show tremendous improvement in 2005-2006 assessment of reading, writing and mathematics

Students across the Toronto Catholic District School Board have made tremendous gains in literacy and numeracy in recent years, with the latest EQAO assessment results showing improvements of between 3 and 10 per cent over the previous year. Board gains are consistently above the provincial gains for the same time period.

“We are naturally pleased at the outcome of this latest assessment,” says TCDSB Chair Oliver Carroll. “The improvements shown by our TCDSB students surpass the provincial average, which would indicate that we are on the right track with our programming. Although our financial resources are limited, it is clear that we are channeling them into areas where they are most needed. Unfortunately some of these very programs may be curtailed due to budget pressures.”

There are a number of initiatives supporting TCDSB System Priorities, implemented by teachers working in professional learning communities, which have contributed to the consistent gains made by students over the past five years, and most dramatically in the past year.

Improvements in Grades 3 and 6 Reading, Writing and Mathematics and in Grade 9 Mathematics are due in large part to an ongoing series of intensive professional development opportunities to build teacher capacity. Focusing on the implementation of the Ministry of Education Expert Panel Reports, these in-services addressed both effective instructional strategies and assessment for instruction. Presentations were provided for superintendents, principals and parents.

Other initiatives include the Fifth Block program aimed at struggling readers in grades 1 and 2. “This early intervention program was first introduced in our school system 5 years ago at 58 schools,” says Kevin Kobus, Director of Education. “Now available in 96 schools, the additional supports provided through this program seem to be having a positive impact on the achievement of some students who may have otherwise been less successful.”

“Our newly implemented TCDSB Data Integration Platform allows principals to understand and monitor local data pertaining to report cards and assessment, giving them an easy way to better plan and respond to student needs,” adds Mr. Kobus.

Improvements are also noted when comparing the results from the cohort of students who wrote the grade 3 assessment three years ago to the results from the 2005-2006 grade 6 assessments.

“The improvement would indicate that there has been a lasting impact from our continued focus on literacy and numeracy,” says the Director. “In recent years, there has been more emphasis on collaboration between elementary and secondary schools, sharing expertise and resources to encourage continuity in programming as students make the transition from grade 8 to grade 9.”

The Toronto Catholic District School Board educates close to 90,000 students from diverse cultures and language backgrounds in its 201 Catholic elementary and secondary schools and serves 470,375 Catholic school supporters across the City of Toronto