90 per cent of students at St. Francis Xavier Secondary School in Mississauga passed. Principal Neville Mant said that at the school — with 70 nationalities — teachers and staff zero in on struggling students as soon as they enter the building.
More of Ontario’s high-school students than ever passed the province’s reading and writing test — but educators remain concerned about the large numbers who failed and risk not graduating.
The Education Quality and Accountability Office, an arm’s-length agency of the Ontario government, said yesterday that 84 per cent of Grade 10 students who took the test for the first time passed, a two-percentage-point improvement across the province over the previous year and up nine points from 2002, when the test was introduced.
But of 149,000 students who took the test in March, a little more than 23,000 failed. In some schools the failure rate was dramatic.
Principal Tim Kearns said there are literacy programs in place, but in a school where the majority of the population is not academically inclined and many have social problems, it is difficult to engage pupils. The challenge, he said, is to have these students attend school on a regular basis with programs that build confidence.
In contrast to Eastdale, only 10 per cent of students at St. Francis Xavier Secondary School in Mississauga failed. Principal Neville Mant said that at the school — with 70 nationalities — teachers and staff zero in on struggling students as soon as they enter the building.
Provincially, the government is putting more resources into the public education system to boost literacy and math scores.
Those who fail the test in Grade 10 can take it in Grade 11 and Grade 12. If they don’t pass, they can take a special literacy course in their final year. Students who fail the course are not allowed to graduate.
Many have criticized the high-stakes nature of the test. But Charles Pascal, EQAO chairman, said many schools are running programs, such as literacy clubs, for students facing obstacles in the test.