Meeting Notes - May 5, 2015

I am very pleased to report that my motion to convene a Math Task Force was unanimously supported by trustees tonight at the Education Committee. The motion was thus:

“That the board convene a Math Task Force to formalize a plan and a process to address improvement in math performance.”

During my campaign I talked about the board’s declining scores on the EQAO in math, particularly grade 6, and the lagging scores in grade 9 applied math. Remember that the EQAO is a measure of student outcomes and education quality in the basic skills. A declining score is an issue especially considering the research which correlates long-term outcomes with EQAO assessments in grades 3 and 6. The point of the task force, then, is to improve math outcomes for kids. EQAO is a comprehensive measure of math (and literacy) outcomes that are to be used for continuous improvement, no matter what the scores show.

The success of this motion tells the community that we think math outcomes are important. We need to do everything we can to ensure good outcomes for students in this community. Kids who struggle in math in grade 6 can lose interest or hope that they can achieve in math. This limits their options after high school. And, frankly, that limits this community.

The details will be worked out over the coming weeks, but my intention is that the board of trustees receive a report back from the committee about what’s working, what’s not working, where the gaps are, and recommendations on where we go from here. This is an important governance piece so that strategies can be vetted by trustees before they are implemented rather than after. Certainly Superintendent Howitt and her team have been working very hard for several years on this matter. I believe that we have an opportunity at this time to review our math strategy and make changes as necessary to develop a solid plan to achieve our targets over the next couple of years.

In terms of the composition of the committee, there is an operational committee already in place that I believe can form the framework. This committee consists of a Superintendent, principals, and teacher consultants. Going forward, the board needs to discuss further how to represent the community, student, and parent voices. I anticipate significant outreach to a variety of stakeholder groups, possibly including post-secondary institutions, and other community agencies.

Our next board meeting is on May 19.  Before that, I will be attending the PARC Community Meeting on Tuesday, May 12 at Kingsville District High School. I also can’t wait to attend Westview’s Talent Show this coming Friday!


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Jessica Sartori