Strategic Plan - An Overview

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1 Years of Action Toronto District School Board Strategic Plan - An Overview Improving Student Success in Mathematics: K-12 Math Strategy

2 Introduction - Director s Letter In many aspects of daily life, we use math. Whether it s balancing a budget, following a recipe or buying a car, we rely on mathematical thinking every day. From kindergarten to Grade 12, math education is cumulative. Each year, students build on what they learned in the previous year. It is critical that students understand the fundamentals and master the basics in order to advance with skill and confidence as they learn more challenging concepts along the way. We are committed to supporting students as they develop valuable math knowledge and skills and want them to be active participants in their learning. While we have been making measured progress over the past five years, the Years of Action plan sets out ambitious goals for success. We are working to increase provincial numeracy achievement results by 10% for Grades 3 and 6 and by six per cent in Grade 9 academic math and 15% in Grade 9 applied math. Using EQAO data, together with graduation rates, report card data and assessment information, we are able to create targeted programs and initiatives to help all TDSB students succeed. Finding new and innovative ways to connect with students and make math learning active and relevant is key to every students success. It s important to use a variety of resources and technologies that engage students abilities, interests, and, most importantly, learning styles. Math education happens inside and outside the classroom and we all play a role in supporting students in developing this valuable skill. This math strategy is our road map to get there. Director of Education, Donna Quan Whether it s balancing a budget, following a recipe or buying a car, we rely on mathematical thinking every day. 1

3 Mathematics Mathematics reveals patterns, order and relationships which help us to understand the world around us. It is an increasingly varied discipline that deals with number, spatial sense, data, measurement, and observations requiring inference, deduction, modelling and communication. Mathematics is of great importance in our modern lives given its rapidly expanding use in day-to-day contexts, in the workplace and in diverse disciplines. Effective classrooms are places of inquiry where mathematics learning is encouraged, where teachers are inspiring, knowledgeable in mathematics for teaching and skilled in creating rich learning environments. As part of the K-12 Math Strategy, we focus on four key principles: - Using a balance of instructional methods, including play, exploration, investigation, direct instruction and practice giving students many opportunities to develop their thinking and master skills. - Providing effective mathematics instruction in Early Years Learning classrooms, in all strands of mathematics, including explicit instruction, learning centres rich with math concepts and mathematical thinking incorporated into every day learning situations. To be successful in math, I need a quiet place to study with friends, and calculators also rulers and protractors and pencils and erasers, plus a water bottle. Grade 5 student. - Learning and teaching through inquiry and problem-solving to expose students to different approaches to learning mathematics and opportunities to apply knowledge and skills. - Using manipulatives, assistive technology, and appropriate modifications and accommodations to support the learning of all students at all grade levels. 2

4 Provincial Context In the Ministry of Education s 2013 document, Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario, student performance in math is a key focus. In it, it states: Foundational skills for academic achievement include reading, writing and mathematics. In order for students to achieve excellence in an area like mathematics, there must be a balance between understanding basic math concepts, practicing skills like multiplication tables, and developing the thinking skills needed for advanced problem solving. These foundational skills remain a focus and combined with creativity and critical thinking, innovative problem solving, effective communication and collaboration, they lead to excellence. A key goal of the report is to increase student engagement in mathematics, science and technology by expanding opportunities for K-12 students to explore the relevance of these areas to their future pathways. And its commitment of continuing to measure progress towards a 75% success rate on elementary EQAO assessments, with a particular focus on mathematics. The 2011 Ministry report Paying Attention to Mathematics Education, identified seven foundational principals for improvement in mathematics, noting that although gains were being made in the province in many areas, the time had come to pay focused collective attention to mathematics teaching, leading and learning. The report identifies the importance of teacher professional learning in mathematics in improving student achievement. In January 2014, the Ministry of Education announced new measures to improve student success in mathematics by paying for current teachers to take advanced qualifications courses in math and ensuring teachers colleges spends more time on how to teach math. 3

5 The Toronto District School Board Context Mission To identify teaching and learning of mathematics and numeracy as a priority and to affirm the Board s commitment to providing support so that all learners achieve at the highest academic levels. Vision Develop in all students: o positive attitudes towards learning math o a willingness to persevere in understanding and problem-solving o an ability to communicate thinking and reasoning and to apply concepts, skills and strategies to different situations o flexible thinking, inquiry and enthusiasm TDSB Commitments To continue to meet the individual needs of all students through differentiated and inclusive learning experiences. To engage students in challenging and relevant programs that develop both concepts and skills. To provide balanced programs that support critical thinking and problem solving. To provide educators with professional learning opportunities that engage them in inquiry and practice based on student needs. To support learning environments that foster creativity, voice, innovation, collaboration and positive dispositions towards mathematics. To support assessment and evaluation practices that support student learning. To use technologies as teaching and learning tools that improve and deepen mathematical understanding. To coordinate and strengthen mathematics leadership. 4

6 What the Research Tells Us TDSB students continue to perform strongly in the Grade 9 mathematics test by the Education Quality and Assessment Office (EQAO) in Over the past five years ( to ), the percentage of Grade 9 students who performed at or above the provincial standard (Levels 3 and 4) increased 8% in applied mathematics and 1% in academic mathematics. For students in Grades 3 and 6, over the past five years ( to ), the percentage of Grade 3 students who performed at or above the provincial standard (Levels 3 and 4), remained the same in mathematics (71%). Measuring student achievement over a longer period of time provides a broader understanding of trends and how programs and initiatives across the system are working to support students. It also provides important insight into where programs may need to be strengthened and/or resources directed. There is an extensive body of research that supports a balanced approach to mathematics instruction. A balanced program provides includes and multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their thinking and practice their skills. It includes direct instruction, skills development, memorization of facts, inquiry, problem solving, exploration, investigation and practice. To be successful in math, I need to do my best when solving problems. Grade 11 student Research also shows that professional learning that allows educators to have the on-going opportunity to build their teaching skills collaboratively in classrooms where they can test and practice approaches and strategies and reflect with their colleagues, have the greatest impact on improving mathematics instruction and student achievement. 5

7 K-12 Math Strategy Improving student success in mathematics requires a multi-layered approach. This strategy builds on the work we have been doing by setting out a focused action plan and specific goals. The plan includes hiring math coaches, a plan for providing professional support to all staff teaching mathematics across the system, regularly monitoring and tracking student success and a cycle for creating and identifying supports for parents and students to access outside of the classroom. Staff Support Numeracy Coaches, Math/Numeracy Department In order to provide on-going, classroom-based support, 10 numeracy coaches who have a specialized focus on teaching math will work directly with teachers. They will co-teach with staff to incorporate effective math teaching practices and develop strategies to support all students. They also may work directly with students to help them become more confident and proficient in their math skills. To be successful in math, I need a teacher who would be able to teach me in many different ways and simplify complicated questions. Grade 7 student Each numeracy coach will support two Families of Schools. Working collaboratively with the Math/Numeracy department, they will: - Provide intensive, classroom-based professional learning to K-8 teachers; - Provide leadership and support to facilitate changes in the learning and teaching of mathematics; and - Support the implementation of intervention strategies to help meet the needs of struggling students. The Mathematics/Numeracy department also acts as a resource, offering expertise, suggestions and may come for in-person support. The Coaches and Instructional Leaders meet monthly to discuss the teaching and learning needs of classroom teachers and their students. Study topics include learning goals, success criteria, descriptive feedback, assessment for/as learning, EQAO, problem solving, and STEM. 6

8 K-12 Math Strategy Professional Learning and Resources Professional learning for educators is central to the K-12 Mathematics Strategy. Ensuring that teachers have the right knowledge, tools, strategies and resources in place is critical to their ability to provide effective and engaging math instruction to students. The development of professional learning teams is a key part of this strategy, where teachers can collaborate and learn best practices from experts and colleagues. Schools are responsible for creating professional learning communities in mathematics. In elementary schools, every teacher will participate, while in secondary, mainly math teachers participate in the teams. Through these teams, teachers: - Meet regularly to study the Ontario math curriculum and discuss how concepts and skills development in different stages. - Support each other in using a variety of instructional strategies to meet different student needs. - Learn together to implement a framework for learning math that balances inquiry, hands-on learning, practice and explicit instruction. - Co-teach to try out a variety of resources, tools, technologies and strategies. - Study the foundational principles of effective mathematics education and the school and classroom actions that will bring about student success. To be successful in math, I need motivation and extra help. Grade 10 student Centrally, several professional learning opportunities are available for K-12, including: - EQAO data analysis and classroom practice - Focus on Grade 9 applied - Use of diagnostic assessment tools - Intervention strategies for struggling students - Math for young children Resources have been developed to support the implementation of the Math Strategy. The K-12 Mathematics Strategy Support and Resource Companion is a reference tool for superintendents and principals. The Facilitation Guide for Professional Learning in Mathematics K-12 and the Mathematics/Numeracy K-12 Expected Practice documents are professional learning resources that provide examples and links to assist in implementing key actions at the school and classroom levels. 7

9 K-12 Math Strategy Monitoring and Tracking to Improve Learning for All Monitoring and tracking is a critical component of the K-12 Mathematics Strategy. The expectation is that principals will report to their Family of Schools superintendent, at least three times a year, on how each action is being implemented and monitored at the school level. Focused conversations with superintendents will examine evidence and the impact of professional learning on student learning and achievement. Families of Schools and schools will identify key actions in the Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement for Numeracy/Mathematics, including: - Evidence of school-based methods for tracking and monitoring improvement in student learning - Evidence of change and/or improvements in instructional practice, beliefs and values of staff, students and parents - Focused conversations of the progress of students and the impact of strategies used I learn math best when the teacher gives examples on the board since I m a visual learner, it s easier for me. Grade 8 student Support for Students and Parents Outside the Classroom Math is not only learned in the classroom. It is used, practiced, tested and explored in the real world. Parents play an important role in student learning and when they know what is being taught and how their children are learning then they can engage in that dialogue and experience at home. The TDSB is committed to providing access to information and resources to support both parents and students, through the TDSB s public website and Virtual Library. Many of the resources are web-based and are all vetted and endorsed by the TDSB s math department. In addition, teachers are encouraged and supported to develop supports for students and parents to use outside of the classroom. This may include extra-help sessions, homework clubs or home practice. 8

10 Resources There are a number of ways parents and students can access resources outside of the classroom. In addition to getting information and support directly from school staff, resources can be accesses through the TDSB public website and TDSB virtual library, including: Math GAINS LNS: Doing Mathematics With Your Child Homework Help EQAO sample questions grades 3 and 6 CLIPS eworkshop Financial Literacy EQAO sample questions Grade 9 epractice 9

11 Improving Student Success in Mathematics: K-12 Math Strategy

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