Shaping Elementary Education
Shaping Secondary Education
Student Success
Special Education
Schools that Care

Shaping Elementary Education

Elementary Education 2Elementary Education 1

Beginning with Kindergarten

We know the importance of building upon a strong foundation. And we also know how important the early years of a child’s education are in creating a positive beginning for future success. That is why we undertook a renewal of our Kindergarten program.

We developed a comprehensive resource for our teachers called The Kindergarten Resource Manual. Using the Ministry of Education’s newly revised The Kindergarten Program document and our Kindergarten System Literacy Assessment based on our Religion program In God’s Image, our Kindergarten teachers engaged in two days of activities prior to the start of the new school year. They learned to link student assessment and effective Kindergarten classroom teaching practices.

This year we are using technology to continue to enhance our Kindergarten program. A DVD of the new Kindergarten Assessment was completed by our teachers and distributed to each school. With the addition of the assessment this year, teachers will be able to improve their teaching practices and ultimately provide the most effective programs for our youngest students.

Differentiated Teacher Support Staff in Grade 3 and 6 Classrooms

In Catholic education, we believe that all children are created in the image of God and that they have their own unique talents and gifts. We also know that no two children are alike and that they learn differently. That is why we have what is called differentiated teacher support in some of our schools.

With a continued focus on improving literacy, and specifically reading, we use differentiated teachers to support our Grade 3 and 6 classrooms. We have helped our classroom teachers to improve reading comprehension based on strategies that work. And we developed our strategies based on information gathered from various student assessments.

Through focused professional development, we have been able to deepen our differentiated teachers'understandings of a variety of strategies, which will support them in their important role. These differentiated teachers assist our classroom teachers so that we can provide our students with an exceptional learning experience.

Primary and Junior Lead Focus

One of our key goals continues to be improving literacy and numeracy for our young students. Our success in this goal has already been seen through steady improvements in assessments, such as EQAO, to the point where we are surpassing the provincial standards in almost all areas for reading, writing and mathematics.

We have identified various teachers that take on a leadership role in their school for literacy and numeracy for junior and primary classes (JK to Grade 6). These “primary and junior leads” have been successful with many initiatives that strengthen our teachers' skills and provide a deeper understanding of instructional strategies that work for literacy and mathematics. We have also placed significant emphasis on using technology to teach students in smaller groups which enables us to address their individual needs.

Provincial Testing

Last year, students in Grades 3 and 6 completed assessments in reading,writing and mathematics that are mandated by the provincial government and administered by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).

Some highlights from last year's assessments are:

  • Achievement scores are higher than the provincial average in Grade 3 reading, writing and mathematics

  • Achievement scores are higher than the provincial average in Grade 6 reading and mathematics

  • The upward trend in the percentage of students who are meeting or exceeding provincial standards continues for our Board

  • Compared with last year, we have seen improvement in five of the six assessment areas for Grade 3 and 6 (the sixth area maintained the same result as last year)

Schools throughout our Board continued to show strong and steady increases in EQAO results and in other student assessments. This demonstrates that our teaching and learning strategies are working to improve reading, writing and mathematics for every student in all subject areas, across all grades.These latest provincial testing results show that our Board is moving in the right direction and gives us tremendous optimism for what future has in store.

French as Second Language (FSL)

Last year there was an increase in the number of teachers using the Accelerative Integrated Method (AIM) of teaching FLS to our students in the primary to intermediate grades. AIM is an intensive, second language method that significantly raises the expectations and performance of students.

We believe the success of this method is raising the level of FSL in our Board and is increasing opportunities to have experiences with French culture. It also motivates students while they are learning French.

Visit the Elementary Education section of our website for more information.

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Shaping Secondary Education
Secondary Education 2Secondary Education 1

With nine high schools in our Board, our staff at the secondary level was busy preparing students for their future goals and aspirations. There was a focus on improving choices so that students are prepared for whatever destination they choose after graduation – apprenticeship, college, university or workplace.

Mathematics and Geography

Grade 10 applied level mathematics and geography were a key focus this year. Teachers from each of our nine high schools participated in professional development opportunities that highlighted specific learning strategies that ultimately benefited the learning of our applied level students.

Health and Safety Upgrades

The safety of our students and staff is always a key priority. In the summer of 2007, we began health and safety upgrades to all equipment that is available in our shop and technology classrooms at our secondary schools.  These upgrades included the addition of guarding technology.

Measuring Student Achievement

Measuring student achievement through assessments, evaluation and reporting is an important part of what we do. This year we embarked upon our first review of the secondary Assessment Evaluation Reporting Policies Standards and Procedures document.

Automotive Courses at St. Thomas Aquinas

As part of the Ministry of Education's Lighthouse Project, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School in Tottenham received special funding to implement transportation technology courses at the school. In total, six new courses were added, which were immediately filled to capacity by eager students. This program offers students yet another option to consider when making decisions about their future after high school.

Provincial Testing

Once again, students in Grade 9 completed the Grade 9 Assessment of Mathematics and students in Grade 10 completed the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT). Both tests are mandated by the provincial government and administered by the Education Quality and Accountability Office.

The results for Grade 9 mathematics (both academic and applied) show that the percentage of students achieving at passing levels has increased compared to last year.

Some highlights from this year's OSSLT results include:

  • The success rate for first-time eligible students in our Board is 83% – a 2% increase over last year and 15% higher than when the test was introduced in 2002

  • Previously eligible students (those students who have previously written the OSSLT) in our Board have a success rate of 62%, which is 12% higher than the provincial average

  • The success rate for boys is 78%, which is 13 percentage points higher than in 2002

  • The success rate for girls is 87%, which is 16 percentage points higher than in 2002

  • Students with special needs have a success rate of 57% - a 35% increase over 2002 results


Our high schools continue to show strong and steady results demonstrating that our learning strategies are working to improve literacy and numeracy for our students.

Moving Forward

We worked on plans to host our first secondary “Chairperson Conference”that brought together various secondary school department heads, along with our principals for professional development. The theme of the event, Called to Lead coincides with this year's theme for Catholic Education Week, We are Called. Plans for the day included a number of breakout sessions and a keynote address from Shannan Hogan from the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association.

Visit the Secondary Education section of our website for more information.

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Student Success

We know that our students have unique interests, goals and strengths and should be given every opportunity to succeed in high school. That is why we continue to work closely with the provincial government to implement its Student Success Strategy. In 2006 – 2007 we made significant progress in implementing new programs and initiatives to provide students with opportunities to succeed in their learning journey.

Here are some highlights:

Engaging the Adolescent Learner

Staff in our Programme and Services Department began a project, which focused on adolescent brain development and how that information can be used to better serve the needs of our students. Teachers from each of our secondary schools were involved in the project so that they could confirm their teaching practices and gain new ones that would enhance student learning. This project had been very successful and engaging presentations on adolescent brain development were made to parents,teachers and at provincial conferences. We were pleased to be able to share vital information on how young teenage students learn.

Dual Credit

We implemented our first Dual Credit Program at St. Peter's Secondary School in Barrie. This program called Transition to Manufacturing, was done in partnership with the Simcoe County District School Board and Georgian College. It enabled students to attend manufacturing classes at Georgian College and at their high school at the same time. In the end, students were able to finish the program with four high school credits and two college credits to better prepare them for a post-secondary career in manufacturing.

Differentiated Instruction

The work that we completed as part of a special project which focused on differentiated instruction for Grades 7 and 8, resulted in some of our teachers being featured in an electronic book called Start Where They Are: Differentiating for Success with Young Adolescents. The book, which was written by Karen Hume, demonstrates the success that our teachers are having with using specific or differentiated teaching strategies to improve student learning.

School Success Teams

In 2006 – 2007 we implemented School Success Teams in all of our secondary schools. These teams are focused on providing school-based plans and supports for at-risk students at each of our nine high schools.

Retail Management Co-op

Working in partnership with the Georgian Mall and the Simcoe County District School Board, we launched a highly successful retail management co-op program. As part of the program, students were able to spend their entire day at the mall – they would spend the morning taking related classes in a room set-up at the mall, followed by a retail co-op in the afternoon. Local retailers and students were both excited about the success of this new co-op opportunity.

Specialist High Skills Major

The Ministry of Education approved our application for our first Specialist High Skills Major. We put plans in place for a Specialist High Skills Major Program in Construction at Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School. Students accepted into the program would have the opportunity to work with Orsi Group based out of Orillia. By the end of the program they would have been involved with constructing a house from start to finish.

Visit the Your Child's Future section of our website for more information.

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Special Education

Focus on Inclusion

Our Board has a philosophy of inclusion that is central to the delivery of our Special Education programs and services – we strive to nurture a sense of belonging for all of our students. This philosophy has its foundation in our Catholic faith, which recognizes that everyone is created in the image of God.

In 2005, we completed an extensive review of our special education programs and services. The review process was consultative, involving more than 1,000 participants including staff, parents and community partners. As part of that process, we reviewed our Board's philosophy of inclusion and developed the following inclusion statement that will guide us as we meet the diverse needs of all of our students:

Inclusion is about relationship and belonging.
Inclusion is about the attitudes that we have
and demonstrate through our actions toward each other.
Inclusion is the responsibility of everyone.
Inclusion is rooted in the Gospel.

This statement has now been validated and we are in the process of working with schools to identify effective practices to help celebrate and live this philosophy. We are committed to focusing on inclusion and its guiding principles for our students over the coming years.

In addition to our inclusion statement, the special education review process also resulted in our Board creating a new framework document, called the Kaleidoscope of Programmes and Services. This document sets out the standards for the delivery of special education programs and services for our students. This year, the document will be provided electronically so that staff has quick and easy access to its important information.

Helping Children Learn – Reducing Waiting Times for Professional Assessments

Teachers often need the help of other members of our professional learning teams to determine the strengths and needs of their students. Professional assessments conducted by our psychology staff lead to recommendations to our school staff and to parents about ways to help children. That is why an initiative that has been allowing us to reduce waiting times for student assessments is so important.

The project in our Board focused on early assessment for students from Junior
Kindergarten(JK) to Grade 4. Additional resources, new equipment and improved processes meant that wait times were reduced and many more students were assessed. We expect this trend to continue this year.

Assistive Technology

Research shows that the use of certain tools can enhance students' access to the curriculum and enable them to be successful in their studies. And ensuring all of our students can succeed is central to our core values. Assistive technologies are powerful tools that can help support our students. The success of Kurzweil Educational Systems (research-aligned technologies that provide complete reading, writing, and study solutions to help all students overcome learning challenges and succeed academically), in our classrooms set the stage for exploring a new technology called SMART boards. These boards are essentially interactive white boards, or technologically advanced chalkboards, that are electronically connected to projectors and laptops so that teachers and students can actually interact with what is being written on the board throughout the lesson. Ten of our teachers volunteered to be trained to use this technology, which meant that they could benefit students with different learning needs.

This year, we have successfully introduced SMART boards into a number of our schools and are already see dramatic benefits for the teachers and, most of all, for our students.

This past summer, students and their parents participated in a week-long “assistive technology” camp in collaboration with Vocalinks, a supplier of speech and text recognition software. There they learned about a variety of software programmes which will help them work with the provincial curriculum more effectively. The students came away better equipped to work on their learning when they returned to school in September.

Visit the Special Education section of our website for more information.

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Schools that Care

We know that creating a successful learning and teaching environment requires a safe, caring and inclusive foundation. Everyone wants schools to be safe and secure for children as they learn and grow. That is why many of our initiatives have been focused on fostering positive and peaceful cultures.

Some key initiatives are anti-bullying programs, Peaceful Schools International, Roots of Empathy and our ongoing Safe Schools program.

Roots of Empathy

Roots of Empathy (ROE) is an example of one of our anti-bullying programs for students in elementary schools. The program, which began as a pilot in the past school year, got mothers and their babies involved with our school communities, when they visited a classroom once a month throughout the school year.

Through a special curriculum and a trained instructor, the students observed and learned about the growth and development of the baby. They were also exposed to the loving parent-child relationship and from various activities with this family,they developed empathy for one another. The program stresses inclusion and building a culture of care, which is very much in keeping with our Catholic values.

In our pilot year, we offered this program in 12 of our elementary schools where over 375 students benefited. It was so successful that a baby celebration was held in June and it was well attended by families, babies, teachers, and school leaders. We will continue to deliver the Roots of Empathy program in many of our elementary schools during 2007– 2008.

Peaceful Schools International

This initiative enables us to create and sustain cultures of peace in many of our school communities. The program motivates schools to obtain recognition as a peaceful school through Peaceful Schools International.This program works to counteract bullying by encouraging schools to create cultures of peace. We now have many elementary and secondary schools in our Board with this designation.

Promoting Positive Student Behaviour: The Engage Me! Project

Engage Me! is a two-year project which began this year. It was designed to enhance an existing school program that promotes positive student behaviour. Grade 7 and 8 students from across our Board participated in this program designed to teach and support skills in motivation and engagement. We were able to work with 14 university students (Psychology Assistants) who were trained and supervised by our Board's psychology team.

These Psychology Assistants worked with 224 students from our elementary schools from April to June 2007, during which time they worked on personal motivation profiles. Parents of the students were also included in the project. They were invited to a parent evening and learned the same concepts and strategies so they could support their children. The success of this initiative was measured by reviewing the grades from the students' report cards for English, Math and Learning Skills before and after the project, and so far we are seeing very positive trends.

New Legislation and Proactive Prevention

Shaping safer learning environments is about prevention and proactive initiatives. When we need to use discipline to address issues in our schools, we believe that it has to be progressive and supportive of the student.

On June 4, 2007, the Education Amendment Act on progressive discipline and school safety was passed. This new provincial legislation aligns closely with our current prevention strategies and the progressive discipline approach that we have used to address student behaviour in our schools. It came into effect on February 1, 2008 and effectively combines discipline with opportunities for students to continue their education.Our Safe Schools policies and procedures have been revised to reflect the new requirements.

Regardless of consequences imposed as a result of students' behaviour, they will be provided with an opportunity to continue their learning. We welcome these changes that reflect a more proactive and positive approach to student discipline that has always been part of our approach as a Catholic school community.

Visit the Promoting Safe Schools section of our website for more information.