September 17, 2014

Literacy a Strong Suit for DSBN Students


The 2013/14 EQAO assessment results show DSBN students continue to achieve a high standard in literacy. Success rates for Grade 3 students surpassed the provincial results in both reading and writing. Grade 6 results in reading increased 1% over last year’s, while success rates in writing increased 2% over the 2012/13 assessment.


The EQAO assessment provides an indicator of students’ skills in reading, writing and mathematics according to the Ontario Curriculum Standards. To be successful on the test, students must meet the provincial standard, which is measured as Level 3 on a four-point scale. The Ministry of Education identifies the provincial standard as equivalent to a B grade.


“While the EQAO results present us with a snapshot of student learning, we are particularly encouraged by the five-year trend which shows strong gains in both reading and writing,” said John Dickson, Superintendent of School Support Services. Since 2009/10, Grade 3 success rates have risen 10% in writing and 15% in reading.  In that same time frame, Grade 6 results have improved 7% in reading and 10% in writing.


“As a system, we have made literacy a key priority,” said Warren Hoshizaki, DSBN Director of Education. “We are pleased this emphasis has benefitted students in this crucial area of learning and we are proud of our staff who have responded to this focus and found ways to tailor supports to meet the needs of each individual student.”


Provincially, math has been identified as an area of concern. Provincial success rates in Grade 3 math held steady at 67% for the second year in a row. Success rates in Grade 6 math fell for a second straight year, from 57% to 54%. At the District School Board of Niagara, success rates in Grade 3 math rose 2% and sit above the provincial rate at 69%. Success rates at the DSBN declined 4% from last year’s results in Grade 6 math to 47%.


“While math is certainly an area that the DSBN is directing more support towards, we are confident that, similar to the successes we’ve seen in literacy, the hard work of our staff and students will lead to improvements in math achievement,” said Dickson.


“In fact, this is where the EQAO is most helpful to us; by using the provincial assessment alongside other forms of evaluation the Board can more effectively target the areas of the curriculum where students are experiencing difficulty and direct additional supports to improve student success,” added Dickson.


Last year, over 140 elementary teachers were able to upgrade their skills through the Additional Qualification (AQ) in Mathematics courses paid for by the DSBN. This past summer, another 50 teachers dedicated themselves to continuous improvement by taking the AQ course, and more than 100 teachers are expected to go through the AQ course during the 2014/15 school year. Similar to last year, each Professional Development (PD) during the 2014/15 school year will have a math component to support staff in improving their practice.


Elementary students wanting to develop their math skills can practice on Dreambox software at home or at school. By obtaining a login from their school, students can access the program at home. “Dreambox engages students in a game-type setting that adapts to each student’s learning needs in a fun and interactive way,” said Dickson.


Additionally, the DSBN is one of the only Boards in all of Ontario to offer the math Homework Help program to students from Grades 7-12. Homework Help allows students to get help with their assignments after school hours. Students can get support from Ontario certified teachers and can also access lesson archives ensuring that assistance is available no matter what time they log on.


For more information about the EQAO, please visit