Meeting Notes - April 3, 2018

Tonight at the Education Committee we received an update on the Math Task Force. It has been 3 years since I brought the motion for the board to implement a Math Task Force and 2 years since we unveiled the plan. Unfortunately, last year saw little change in our math outcomes as measured by the EQAO. However, we saw improvements in attitudes about math and math mindset among students which we expect will be a precursor for positive changes in math outcomes.

There have been two big challenges to improving math outcomes. The first is ensuring that math professional learning is implemented throughout the system. With over 3000 educators in the board, it has taken some time to get to everyone. However, it is my understanding that as of February 2018, every teacher in GECDSB has received math professional development. Feedback is collected and 92% of educators indicated they intend to use the information in their classrooms. We know this support for educators needs to continue and schools are also receiving additional supports based on what their specific needs are.

The second challenge is that the sector is lacking the kinds of assessment tools for math learning and development that are available for literacy. We have seen gains in students’ ability to read by using the Lexia and Empower tools.  However, we have recently implemented a program called PRIME which is designed to assess math ability along developmental phases. The teacher can identify which phase of math learning a student is in and then ensure they have the appropriate supports to move them through the math learning continuum. Preliminary data from at least 2 classrooms in each of 15 schools is promising! At mid-point, 86% of students showed growth within a particular phase and 48% of students moved across a phase. The next assessment will be in June of this year. I am very hopeful! 

We also received a report from Superintendent Houston on the Adult and Continuing Education part of her portfolio. There are many parts to this programming and educators have been busy! Among the most notable, 750 learners participated in our adult ESL program this year, which is funded by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and is the largest adult ESL program in Windsor-Essex. The program serves level 1 and up, and at level 5, a person can take their citizenship test. It is very exciting to offer a program that benefits newcomers in this way! In addition, we had 1125 learners attending night school last year which is funded by the Ministry of Education. About 20-25 subjects are offered each year and 1605 credits were awarded this past year! We also provide credit programming to inmates at the Southwest Detention Centre. This unique program is funded by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. There were 6 graduates last year with 148 credits awarded. It makes me happy that we are helping people in this way.

At the Operations and Finance Committee meeting we learned that we are still on track to balance the budget and we approved the space template for the new Eastwood / Parkview Public School – very exciting! The new 55,707 sq ft school will have 501 student spaces with an art room, music room, science room, and special education room. In addition, the school was approved for a four room child care. Finally, we learned about the Ministry of Education’s key new investment areas for 2018/19: special education, preparation for success in high school, changing demographics and population, and mental health. More information to come on this, but I am very pleased that there will be investment in mental health.  

The next meeting is on April 17. Before then, A Day in the Life is happening in all GECDSB elementary schools on April 5. A great opportunity for parents to view Kindergarten programming in action before children start school in the fall!

Jessica

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Jessica Sartori