Driving the Workplace Pathway to Support Post-Secondary Student Success
In this installment of TeachOntario Talks we are profiling and celebrating Carolyn Crosby, Carol MacKenzie, and Chantale Lauzon-Harris from the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO).
Given the recent release of Ontario’s Renewed Mathematics Strategy, increasing student achievement and engagement in mathematics continues to be a priority across the province. One of the ways to increase student engagement in mathematics is by expanding opportunities for K–12 students to explore the relevance of these areas to their future pathways (Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education). Therefore, providing opportunities and support for students to plan their individual pathways to post-secondary destinations will help students acquire the mathematics knowledge, skills and mindsets needed to succeed in the future.
Setting the Context for the Project
What are the pathways to success to acquire the jobs of today and tomorrow? Many secondary schools and school boards provide programs that support four specific post-secondary pathways: college, university, apprenticeship training, or the workplace.
The CDSBEO educators from St. Luke, St. John, and St. Matthew Catholic High Schools began a Teacher Learning and Leadership Program (TLLP) journey to investigate how well locally developed/workplace pathways can prepare students for post-secondary education.
The purpose of the project, Pathways to College in Ontario, was to bring educators together to explore and learn about the connections between high school and college mathematics. Since their respective high schools have the locally developed/workplace high school pathway, it was important for the team to investigate how well their programs supported future student success. By investigating the numeracy skills students required to be successful in college trade programs, the group wanted to learn how applied and workplace math can lead to opportune careers.
The Impact of the TLLP
The impact of this project has been far-reaching. According to Crosby, the change in her own school culture has been the most meaningful outcome of this project. Educators at her school have truly applied the group's research findings and students in the locally developed/workplace pathway now believe that they are learning meaningful mathematics that will prepare them for their futures. “I can look students in the eye and tell them that they are in a good pathway and that it can prepare them for many college and apprenticeship programs,” Crosby reports.
Last year, the group met with guidance counsellors, teachers from both high school and elementary levels, administration, and school board personnel from 10 school districts, as well as college representatives, the Ontario College of Trades, and the Ministry of Education in a Math Forum.
At the event, the group shared their findings that three strong high school pathways to college can meet the needs of all learners. This finding shifted mindsets to consider all mathematics pathways as equally able to prepare students for their future careers. As one survey respondents stated, “We must instill in students that they must do work in all levels to be successful and that pathways may be different for each student as they focus on reaching their goal."
“The locally developed pathway needs to be seen as the correct option not the last option”
The impact on students and their agency in learning has also been exciting. Students achieve many employment skills and students, teachers, and parents see the value in authentic pathways. The team has had many success stories including that of Christian Adamson, a student that acquired an excellent understanding of the math skills he needed to be successful in the trades. Adamson is currently in an apprenticeship program and will be doing his college courses for level 1 Autobody in the spring.
Questions? Ideas? Comments? Ontario educators can register on TeachOntario and join in more in-depth conversation about this teacher in Share under: TeachOntario Talks Discussions: Driving the Workplace Pathway to Support Post-Secondary Student Success