Supporting students is the very core of our work at the TDSB. By engaging students in their learning, we can see marked improvement in student achievement. Literacy development and math comprehension are high priorities of the Board and we are committed to providing support to all learners.
This year, the TDSB had strong performance and steady improvement in four areas of provincial testing including: the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), Grade 9 EQAO math test, and reading and writing at both the Primary and Junior levels.
Over the past five years, we have seen a 9% increase in the percentage of all Grade 9 students who performed at or above the provincial standard in Applied Mathematics and 8% in Academic Mathematics. During that same period, the number of students in Grades 3 and 6 who performed at or above the provincial standard increased 10% in reading and 11% and 12% in writing, respectively. We also sustained a high level of achievement in literacy at the Grade 10 level with 81-82% of students achieving successful results. And we made significant gains in closing the achievement gap between genders and increasing the achievement levels for students with Special Education Needs (excluding Gifted) and English Language Learners.
These results show a steady and consistent increase in achievement levels, an indication that a number of initiatives we have implemented to support students across the system are working and high achievement levels are not the result of a specific cohort or class.
While the TDSB continues to see steady improvements year over year, the Board remains committed to addressing the achievement gap for students who are working towards achieving the provincial standard and beyond. A number of supports were offered this year such as transition teams that work to support greater math success as students move from elementary to secondary schools, after-school literacy programs and workshops and literacy diagnostic assessments, to help students succeed.
The TDSB is the most diverse school board in North America and we strive to make all our students feel welcome and accepted. One area of focus is to develop and offer inclusive curriculum that reflects our diverse student population. This year, we offered the secondary Africentric program in two schools: Downsview Secondary School and the Leonard Braithwaite program at Winston Churchill Collegiate Institute.
We continue to support our Aboriginal students in a variety of areas to reduce gaps in student outcomes. Engaging students is a key focus. The Aboriginal Student Leadership Camp provides an opportunity for 40 First Nation, Metis and Inuit students to experience interactive workshops, cultural experiences, outdoor activities and leadership skills. Students were invited to share their culture through writing or art on a number of celebratory occasions as well as attend a symposium on Louis Riel Day.
Work continues to support our special education students through the implementation of a new policy to support the transitions for students from school entry to graduation. Our Focus on Youth Toronto program continues to support TDSB students in priority neighbourhoods through high-quality summer recreational opportunities. This year, 176 Focus on Youth programs were offered by 101 non-profit agencies in nearly as many schools, serving more than 12,000 participants each day over July and August. Student participants enjoyed a variety of activities including sports, literacy programs, gardening, photography, field trips and cooking to enrich and engage.
Over the past three years, suspension rates have continued to decline in both the elementary and secondary panels. Providing support to those students in care, custody, treatment and corrections, we collaborate with agency partners to provide wrap-around services that address the complex challenges faced by our students and ensure that they are able to learn and progress academically and socially. One key area of focus this year included increasing and deepening the use of technology and all sites now have some form of educational or assistive technology in place to engage and support students.
Helping students who have left school without graduating was a major focus. One support system is our e-credit 18+ program, available for free to students across Ontario. The program offers a number of Grade 11 and 12 courses to adult learners who are no longer in school, providing an opportunity to complete their high school diploma.
Recognizing that accountability is an important component of online learning, this year, there was a focus on using online conferencing for teachers to connect directly with students. Online tutors were also available through web conferencing to provide further support to students.
The total number of students participating in e-learning and blended learning has grown from 2,280 in 2011-12 to 15,785 in 2012-13.