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Bluewater board elementary provincial test results 'a concern'

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GREY-BRUCE

Public school kids in Grades 3 and 6 lag their provincial counterparts in the percentage of them meeting or beating the provincial standard in reading, writing and math.

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That was true of the 2017-18 test results and it’s been a trend since 2013, the earliest date for which results were included in this year’s Education, Quality and Accountability Office test results.

Last year, 68 per cent of Grade 3 public school students in the Bluewater District School Board met the provincial standard, compared with 75 per cent provincially.

In writing the breakdown was 64 per cent locally met the standard, compared with 72 across the province.

And in math, 54 per cent of Grade 3 students met the standard, compared with 61 provincially who did.

Grade 6 results in reading showed 75 per cent met the standard locally, compared with 82 per cent provincially. In writing, 69 per cent met the standard, compared with 80 per cent provincially.

Math results for Grade 6 were particularly uninspiring – 39 per cent made the standard locally, compared with 49 per cent provincially.

Bluewater Grade 6 math results have been hovering in the range of 35 to 39 per cent of public school students who met the provincial standard over the past few years — though provincially the percentage at least meeting the standard was around 50.

Paul Hambleton, the superintendent of education with the Bluewater District School Board, said there are pockets where he sees incremental improvement in math, and a bit in primary reading, with the rest of the results “static.”

“So we’re encouraged where we’ve seen some improvement but we’re definitely not where we want to be. So we’ll continue to work,” he said. “It’s a certainly a concern for us and it will continue to be an area of focus,” Hambleton said.

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To change test performance he hopes to replicate where the board has done some intensive work by expanding that to other schools. There’s money for professional development, he said. Partly that’s bringing staff together to “look at finding solutions for it.”

Math results in terms of meeting the provincial standard dropped from Grade 3 to 6, when the math gets a lot more difficult, he said. Teaching today emphases more analysis and less straight computation, in which students have done quite well.

Analysis is harder but is needed to succeed beyond school, he said.

Students also need to have their “fundamentals in place” to progress quickly, he said.

The EQAO report, available online, is packed with statistics which look beyond how many students meet the standard too, possibly providing clues and context for viewing the results of the Grade 3 and 6 testing.

How much do they like to read? Do their parents review their math homework? Do students check their work for mistakes? Do they participate in activities after school?

On that basis, local public school kids stacked up similarly to the aggregated provincial results.

Looking at results beyond last year, local Grade 3 results in reading in the past three years have shown some improvement.

The percentage of students reaching or beating the provincial standard in reading was 62, 66 and 68 per cent respectively. But still provincially, 72, 74, and 75 per cent of students did so over the past three years respectively.

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In Grade 3 writing, 63 per cent, 65 per cent and 64 per cent of local kids met or exceeded the provincial standard in the past three years respectively, while 74 per cent, 73 per cent and 72 per cent did in that time provincially.

In Grade 3 math, 53 per cent, 57 per cent and 54 per cent of local students met or exceeded the provincial standard in the past three years respectively – compared with 63 per cent, 62 per cent and 61 per cent provincially in that time.

Meanwhile, in Grade 6 reading in the past three years, 74 per cent, 75 per cent and 75 per cent of local students respectively met or exceeded the provincial standard – compared with 81 per cent, 81 per cent and 82 per cent provincially in that time.

In Grade 6 writing, 70 per cent, 69 per cent and 69 per cent of local students in the past three years respectively met or exceeded the provincial standard – compared with 80, 79 and 80 per cent did so provincially in that time.

Grade 6 math improved at bit — 35 per cent, 37 per cent and 39 per cent of local students in the past three years respectively met or exceeded the provincial standard – but that’s compared with 50, 50, and 49 per cent provincially who did in that time respectively.

Also of note, since 2013, a higher percentage of local girls than boys scored at or above the provincial standard in reading and writing in Grades 3 and 6.

In math in Grade 3 in terms of meeting or exceeding the provincial standard, the proportion of girls outscored boys in two years, while in two other years the proportion of boys outscored girls. But in Grade 6, the proportion of girls meeting the standard outperformed boys in math in three out of the four years of data presented.

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