Destreamed math and pathways to graduation were focus of TLDSB’s newest statistics

By Kirk Winter

Recently collected data from the first two quadmesters of the Trillium Lakelands District School Board high school year show the rollout of destreamed Grade 9 mathematics has gone reasonably well.

Statistics presented also suggests that the many different pathways to graduation that largely focus on the skilled trades are being well received at local high schools and growing in popularity.

Superintendent of learning Kim Williams provided trustees with the most up-to-date data that her department has on what occurred between September 2021 and January of 2022 at the board’s seven high schools, including students learning in-person and online.

“The priorities for this year have been to support the introduction of destreamed math and to plan for the introduction of English, Geography and French at the academic level only,” Williams said.

Williams reported that data from the first round of destreamed math classes is encouraging, showing 96 per cent of students achieved the credit, and 67 per cent of students achieved a mark of 70 per cent or higher. The only troubling statistic regarding math is that among students with individual educational plans, only 42 per cent achieved marks higher than 70 per cent. (IEPs ensure specialized instruction, often needed for students with learning challenges.)

“We (consultants and teachers) recognize that TLDSB learners are a diverse population and more needs to be done to close the achievement gap between students with IEPs and those who do not,” Williams said.

Williams said her team of consultants are looking hard at how to improve reading at the high school level.

“We want to look at what kids are reading,” Williams said. “We want to look for literature that will honour student voices.”

Williams told the trustees that different pathways that stress work experience and the skilled trades “are improving graduation rates and engaging learners.”

Williams began with cooperative education.

“Four per cent of all the students enrolled in the board are taking co-op. Thirty-eight per cent of students enrolled in co-op have IEPs,” Williams said.

Williams reported that the specialist high skills major program, which provides students the opportunity to begin a skilled trade while still in high school, continues to grow each year.

“In 2020-2021 there were 428 students enrolled in the program,” Williams said. “Next year there will be 614 people taking the program”

The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, where students are enrolled in school while earning apprenticeship hours, has 29 students fully enrolled.

“These students will have jobs guaranteed with their current apprenticeship employer,” Williams said. “This program is only growing because of staff pounding the pavement and looking for employers to become involved. There is also a lot of educating of parents going on about a future in the of trades (for their child).”

Williams also pointed out to trustees that 163 students across the board are enrolled in the dual-credit program, where students are earning a high school and a college credit at the same time. The most popular dual-credit program is carpentry fundamentals.

“This is a great opportunity for many of our students to see that they can take a college program and be successful,” Williams said.

Deputy-chair Steven Binstock was pleased to see the number of students enrolled in these programs as “there is such a shortage of skilled trades.” Binstock wondered what the biggest challenges are going to be for staff in implementing even more destreamed programming next fall?

“We have proven we can do destreaming,” Williams said. “We need to convince kids they can do it. Teachers are eager to learn how to better support student reading (at the high school level).”

Binstock, a former elementary school principal, wanted to know if staff have concerns with destreaming.

“Staff are unsure they can be successful with all students,” Williams replied.

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