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(Canada) ON: 'Alarming' math scores in schools with stunning numbers of SPED kids

Oct 6, 2018, Hamilton (ON) Spectator: ‘It’s alarming’: Zero grade six students meet provincial standard at one Hamilton public school No Grade 6 student at R.L. Hyslop Elementary School had the math skills required by the province last school year…. “Without question, when we see a number like that, it’s alarming,” said Peter Sovran, associate director of learning services for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB)…. It is worth noting that when the standardized test was written, R.L. Hyslop had the highest percentage of Grade 6 students with special education needs, excluding gifted, in all of Hamilton including the public, Catholic and French boards. Just under half — 43 per cent — of the Grade 6 class had been formally identified at the small school on Lake Avenue South. But it’s not yet known how, or if, special needs affected the test results. The identification encompasses a broad range of students who have difficulty learning for a wide-variety of reasons. Each has an independent educational plan which is a customized system of support that spells out what services and accommodations will be provided. “This puts a great strain on schools,” said Judith Bishop, former longtime HWDSB trustee and current education advocate. “To be on an independent educational plan, you need to be at least two years behind, usually.”… An analysis by The Spectator of the school-by-school results released by EQAO in September, raises questions about the role special needs plays in standardized testing results. Tecumseh was the Burlington school with the lowest math score and the highest special needs with nearly-two-thirds of the grade 6 class being formally identified. St. Brigid was the only Catholic school to appear among the worst 10 math results in Hamilton with a mere five per cent of students having the skills expected by the province at the end of Grade 6. But it also had the third highest number of identified students in the board with 30 per cent of the Grade 6 class having special needs. The Catholic school with the highest special needs was St. Patrick on East Avenue South in central Hamilton with 33 per cent of the Grade 6 class identified. It had the second worst math scores in the board with 17 per cent of Grade 6 students meeting the standard. “We’re very very cautious not to compare individual schools and in particularly individual classrooms,” Pat Daly, chair of the HWCDSB, said about drawing conclusions from the results. “Demographics, school size, class size and all of those kinds of things are factors.” It’s not clear whether special needs are part of the puzzle of what is going wrong in math from grades 4 to 6 in Hamilton and across the province as revealed in Spectator investigations over the years. …


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