Unlocking Potential for Learning - .Unlocking Potential for Learning ... working with schools and

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  • Unlocking Potential for LearningUnlocking Potential for Learning

    Case Study ReportYork Catholic District School Board

    Effective District-Wide Strategies to Raise Student Achievement in Literacy and Numeracy

    Series Editors:Carol CampbellMichael FullanAvis Glaze

    The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat

  • Unlocking Potential for Learning

    Effective District-Wide Strategies to Raise Student Achievement in Literacy and Numeracy

    Case Study ReportYork Catholic District School BoardCarmen Maggisano and Carol Campbell

    Series Editors:Carol CampbellMichael FullanAvis Glaze

  • Preface ................................................................................................................. 3

    Introduction ......................................................................................................... 5

    Executive Summary ............................................................................................... 13

    Board Profile ................................................................................................. 13

    Data Collection .............................................................................................. 13

    Boards Approach .......................................................................................... 13

    Lessons for District-Wide Strategies Key Learnings ..................................... 15

    Case Study Report ................................................................................................. 16

    1. Board Context and Performance ............................................................... 16

    2. Data Collection .......................................................................................... 18

    3. Boards Approach ...................................................................................... 18

    Background for Change ......................................................................... 19

    4. Strategies and Actions in Place to Support Improvement ........................... 20

    Professional Development and Capacity Building Activities .................... 20

    Development of Resources ..................................................................... 24

    Communication and Collaboration ......................................................... 26

    5. Governance and Accountability ................................................................. 27

    Trustees ................................................................................................. 27

    6. Role of Board Staff .................................................................................... 28

    Role of the Director ............................................................................... 28

    Role of the Supervisory Officer .............................................................. 28

    Role of the Principal .............................................................................. 30

    Role of the Teacher ................................................................................ 30

    Role of the Literacy Coach ..................................................................... 31

    7. Connections between School and School Board ........................................ 31

    8. Lateral Capacity Building: Increasing Professional Exchanges

    Among Schools ........................................................................................ 32

    9. Evaluation and Effectiveness of Implemented Practices ............................. 32

    CONTENTS

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  • 10. Challenges to Overcome .......................................................................... 32

    11. Sustainability of Improvements ................................................................ 33

    12. Future Directions .................................................................................... 33

    13. Lessons for District-Wide Strategies Key Learnings ............................... 34

    2 EF F E C T I V E D I S T R I C T -WI D E ST R A T E G I E S TO RA I S E ST U D E N T AC H I E V E M E N TIN L I T E R A C Y AN D NU M E R A C Y

  • Schools and school systems all across the world are seeking ways of improving studentachievement to respond to the growing public recognition of the importance ofeducation for individual and societal progress and success. Ontario has adopted anexciting approach to supporting school improvement that is research and evidencebased. Unlike many jurisdictions around the world that have adopted simplisticpractices, Ontario has recognized that sustained improvement depends on schools,districts, and provinces adopting an aligned approach that builds the capacity ofteachers, school leaders, boards, district leaders, parents, and community allies.Ontario is putting that approach into practice in elementary schools through the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy and Secretariat, and in secondary schools throughthe Student Success Strategy. In both strategies, the Ministry of Education is closelyworking with schools and school districts to develop common approaches to mean-ingful change focused on improved school and classroom practices. We recognizethat within these broad parameters there can be many different ways to proceed,taking into account the diverse demographics and contexts of Ontario schools. The initial evidence is that these strategies are working. All the indicators of studentprogress are improving, and there is a renewed sense of energy and optimism inschools about the future. At the same time, we recognize that we are only at thebeginning of the road.

    The case studies in this collection illustrate the terrific work being done in boardsas well as the significant challenges that must be addressed. The researchers andauthors describe in detail the strategies being used by boards to create enthusiasm,to build teacher skills, to develop strong leadership, to involve the community, and to use data to guide improvement. They show that improvement must always be a collective effort no matter how significant a role some individuals may play.They show that the school cannot do it alone although the school must also be committed to the possibility of improvement. They show the importance of tenacityand, as Robert Slavin put it, the unrelenting pursuit of success for students.

    3CA S E ST U D Y RE P O R T

    PREFACE

  • The cases in the Unlocking Potential for Learning series also show that while thisgreat work is going on boards and schools must also manage a diverse range ofother tasks and pressures. The realities of day-to-day schooling and board manage-ment cannot be left unattended either. It is indeed a fine balancing act, but thesevery diverse cases show how it can be is being done. They provide inspiration,ideas, and a map of sorts for other school leaders while also making it clear thatthe route will look a little different in each situation.

    I am honoured to write some words of introduction to this collection, but even moreto work with Ontario educators and communities for the benefit of our children.

    No cause is more worthy of our effort.

    Ben LevinSeptember, 2006

    4 EF F E C T I V E D I S T R I C T -WI D E ST R A T E G I E S TO RA I S E ST U D E N T AC H I E V E M E N TIN L I T E R A C Y AN D NU M E R A C Y

  • This publication contains a case study of a district in Ontario, the York Catholic District School Board, which is demonstrating strategies to achieve district-wideimprovement in literacy and numeracy at the elementary school level. This is one of eight case studies from the Effective District-Wide Strategies to Raise StudentAchievement in Literacy and Numeracy research project conducted by The Literacyand Numeracy Secretariat. In this introduction, we put the case studies in context.First, we outline the provincial commitment and strategy for raising student achieve-ment in literacy and numeracy. Second, we describe the Effective District-WideStrategies project, from which this case is derived, and highlight the overall findingsfrom this project.

    In 2003, as part of a new government initiative, Ontario launched a major province-wide strategy to achieve substantial improvements in student achievement in literacyand numeracy. The starting point for reform was a five-year period of limitedimprovement in the percentage of 12-year-old students (Grade 6) achieving profi-ciency in literacy and numeracy, based on provincial assessments as carried out bythe independent agency the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).

    A key element of the governments strategy included the establishment of The Literacyand Numeracy Secretariat to work in partnership with school districts and schools tosupport improvement in student achievement. Nine key strategies have underpinnedthe Secretariats work:

    1. Work with school boards to set achievement targets.

    2. Assemble and support teams at all levels to drive continuous improvementin literacy and numeracy.

    3. Reduce class sizes in the primary grades to a maximum of 20 students per class by 200708.

    4. Build capacity to support student learning and achievement.

    5. Allocate resources to support target setting and improvement planning for literacy and numeracy.

    5CA S E ST U D Y RE P O R T

    INTRODUCTION

  • 6. Mobilize the system to provide equity in student outcome.

    7. Embark on a process of community outreach and engagement to buildsupport for the literacy and numeracy initiative.

    8. Demonstrate a commitment to research and evidence-based inquiry and decision making.

    9. Establish a growing presence on the national and international scene in learning fr