Simcoe County District School Board’s research analysis of student achievement data:

To: Administrative Council
From: Superintendent of Education
Subject: COPE Service Dog Program Update

Through Superintendent Bailey, a request for support from Research and Evaluation Services was tabled and approved at Administrative Council on March 1, 2011 to analyze achievement data for students served by the COPE Service Dog Program. The attached report provides the findings.

COPE Program in SCDSB Schools
The COPE Service Dog Program has been offered at various times in up to five schools and has been funded through local school-based funding. In 2010-2011, the program is running at Nantyr Shores, Bear Creek and Banting (new to the program this year), and is no longer offered at Stayner and Barrie North. Based on information provided by Jane Boake, teacher at Nantyr Shores, a total of 193 students participated in the program from 2003-04 to 2009-2010. Twenty three of these students have participated in the program multiple times. While anecdotal feedback about the program has been positive, student achievement outcomes have not been systematically examined.

Focus of Analysis
Only the 67 students who had one year of secondary school prior to and one year after participating in the program were included in this analysis. Examining outcomes for a cohort of students before, during and after participation in a program is a useful approach when no comparison group is available. The outcomes examined included marks, learning skills, attendance, suspensions and credits earned.

Highlights of Findings
• There was a modest increase in students’ average marks.
• There was a decrease in the percentage of students receiving a learning skill assessment of ‘needs improvement’. There was a slight increase in the percentage of students receiving a learning skills assessment of ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ although the results varied somewhat by gender.
• There was a steady decrease in the number of suspensions served by girls and a decrease in the average length of suspensions. For boys, the pattern was less clear.
• The findings for credit accumulation were complex and may reflect differences among schools in the students served by the program and the grade(s) in which students took part.
• There was no significant change in students’ average number of periods missed.

Limitations of the Analysis
Because the analysis focused on 67 of the 193 students served, the results should be regarded as exploratory and interpreted with caution. The program has served a range of students depending on the school, from students with special education needs in life skills classes to students who failed the OSSLT on their first attempt. The present analysis focused on achievement outcomes only for students who were earning credits and for whom three years of data were available. Potential benefits of this program could include self esteem and self confidence; however, such outcomes could not be examined because they were beyond the scope of the data available. Despite these limitations, the positive findings above suggest that the COPE Service Dog Program can benefit student learning and achievement.

Respectfully submitted by Kathy Bailey
May 3, 2011
* For the time period “Post Program”, there are 7 students who were still enrolled in the program.

COPE Service Dog Program: Student Achievement Results