Focus on numeracy

There were some positives and some challenges confirmed after analyzing the most recent results from two provincial standardized tests, reported Assistant Superintendent Carl Cooper to the SD83 Board of Education at Tuesday’s meeting.

On the positive side, the district’s performance on these tests show an upward trend in reading and writing, although not yet at provincial rates. However, explained Cooper, SD83 participation rates are high and when these are factored in with the achievement results the district is actually at or even above the provincial level. He also noted that the the Indigenous students are outperforming provincial averages in reading and writing and in participation rates.

“Our participation rate is around 95 per cent, which is significantly higher than the province. Participation rates are important because it impacts results. In the province participation rates are trending downwards.”

He said the biggest concern from these trends is numeracy. “We are still behind the provincial average.” He added that although it is good to look at outside indicators, the most important comparison to ourselves. “All of our grade 4s are the same students that write reading, writing and numeracy. Yet year after year our numeracy results are lower than the other two areas.”

He explained that every year students in grades 4, 7, and 10 write specific Ministry standardized tests. One provincial measure is the Foundation Skills Assessments and the other is the Grade 10 Numeracy Exam. “These measures have some flaws and have some controversy associated with them. They are best used over a period of time, in comparing subject areas to subject areas, and ideally, in conjunction with other individual, school, district, provincial, and even international assessments. However, given these considerations, the results do provide some broad generalizations,” reports Cooper.

2019-FSA-Master

“The results also suggest some district priorities, particularly given that the results are consistent over several years and between subject areas.”

Cooper added the themes that have been identified include:
• Results in numeracy have been the lowest subject area, consistently.
• Results in writing, numeracy, and reading in all areas have been behind provincial averages, consistently.
• Overall, the results have been improving, both in comparison to results in previous years and in comparison to the provincial results.
• The participation rate in SD83 has outperformed the provincial rate consistently and the gap is widening.
• Results are on par with the province when participation rates are included. But, the results still indicate areas for improvement, particularly in numeracy.
• Results for Indigenous students have been improving, both in comparison to previous years and in comparison to the provincial results for writing and reading. Specifically, after being behind the Province in writing and reading, Indigenous students have outperformed the Province this past year.
• Results in numeracy for Indigenous students continue to be similar to the provincial results.
• Results for Indigenous students continue to be lower than results for the District, overall. However, the gap has been narrowing, particularly in writing and reading.
• The participation rate for Indigenous students exceeds the provincial rate, by far. It is slightly behind the overall participation rate for the District.

Board Chairperson Marianne VanBuskirk thanked Cooper and his team for their hard work and research. “The results give us a clear picture of where we need to improve and help us start on an action plan. I’m pleased with the results from the Indigenous students and the participation rates. We need to be proud of that.”

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