From story-planning “tea parties” to new hi-tech “wikis” — websites kids work on together — Peel public schools use an array of tactics to help students who fail the Grade 6 reading test.

“We teach students to organize their thoughts before they write using wikis to comment on each other’s outlines, and ‘tea party’ get-togethers where they move around the classroom presenting ideas to each other for feedback,” said Jim Grieve, director of education for the Peel district School Board.

School libraries now stock more non-fiction and graphic novels, he said, and borrowing has gone way up.

These are the sorts of tactics that may help explain how two-thirds of Ontario students who scored below provincial reading standards four years ago in Grade 6, went on to pass the Grade 10 literacy test this year, in test results released yesterday.

“We’d still like to see more attention focussed on the one-third who weren’t successful, but many teachers are able to provide the assistance students need to improve between Grade 6 and 10,” said Michael Kozlow, director of data for the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), which runs the province-wide tests each year.

Overall, 85 per cent of the more than 142,000 English-speaking students who tried the test April 2 for the first time passed.

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