By Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative
The Thamesville Herald
The new ‘quadmester’ learning system put in place in response to the pandemic is getting a ‘better-than-average-passing’ grade from local educators.
In a report to the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, Scott Johnson, superintendent for secondary schools, says students are performing well in the new system – in spite of obstacles.
Johnson told the board he was “pleasantly surprised” when he reviewed recent mid-term testing results.
The aggregate average for students thus far is a B, Johnson explained, adding the grade is higher than the board’s five-year average.
Johnson says results are promising.
“I have great hope that in spite of the challenges, our students can have very solid success.”
The new system sees both online and in-school students spend 300 minutes – or all day – on one subject.
They do this for a week, and then switch to another subject the next. The two-subject rotation continues for approximately 10 weeks until the course is complete.
Johnson’s report focused on Grade 9 and 10 students and their achievements in ministry-mandated core subjects.
Although the issue hasn’t been studied, Johnson says educators think drilling down on one subject allows students to have “laser-beam focus.
“There are definitely less distractions,” Johnson says, adding the new methodology is also allowing teachers to become better acquainted with their pupils. “Teachers are really getting to know and understand kids.”
With no extracurricular activities, there’s a certain simplicity to learning, Johnson adds.
As for sitting still for long periods of time, Johnson says teachers have come up with some creative solutions.
“You can go by our schools at almost any time and you’ll see classes outside walking the track,” he explains, adding virtual students are also encouraged to move, with activities such as stretching breaks.
While the mid-term results are good news, the superintendent is aware there are still students who may be struggling.
Help is available to them, he adds.
There are currently 400 online secondary school students in the Catholic board and 2,150 in face-to-face classes at St. Patrick’s in Sarnia and Ursuline College Chatham.
At the elementary level, there are 5,400 students in class and 700 in the virtual learning system.
It’s not yet clear how the Ministry of Education will fund boards where students are not physically in class.
Normally, ministry funding is dependent on students who are physically present in the school.