Nova Scotia's Grade 12 students have shown a marked improvement in reading and writing, but continue to have difficulties with mathematics in provincial exams, according to the 2005 edition of the Minister's Report to Parents.
The fifth annual report card on student achievement revealed improved assessment results over last year in a number of subject areas, including physics, English and Grade 6 reading. The provincial average on the academic Grade 12 English exam has improved from 58 per cent in 2004 to 64 per cent in 2005. There was also a significant and continued improvement in English/communications 12.
The pass rate in physics jumped substantially to 59 per cent from 51 per cent. The provincial average for that course improved three per cent to 55 per cent.
But the provincial examinations also showed weakness in other subjects.
"There are areas where students have made significant progress, such as in reading in the elementary years and language arts in high school," Education Minister Jamie Muir said today, May 5. "There are also areas where there are still significant challenges, like mathematics at all levels."
The results for advanced mathematics 12 and mathematics 12, which count toward 30 per cent of a student's final mark, were disappointing with a provincial average of 54 per cent in advanced math and 41 per cent in math 12. This is the second year for the provincial math examination, but it is the first time a sample of tests has been marked centrally by the province.
The assessment results for the two math exams, which were written in January and June of 2005, will now provide baseline data for future comparisons.
Mr. Muir said work is underway to improve achievement in mathematics at all grade levels. Over the past year, the department has targeted resources at improving students' understanding of math. In the Mathematics Strategy, schools have increased the amount of time spent on math, added math mentors and math leaders to help guide teachers in every board, and increased course options at senior high. There are also more learning resources being made available, including a high-quality study guide to help Grade 12 students writing the provincial math exam and a new online item bank that allows teachers and students to become familiar with the type of questions encountered on the assessment.
Next year, the province will begin a new mental math initiative designed to help elementary and junior high students develop a greater fluency and deeper understanding of basic concepts.
The department has also taken steps to introduce prerequisites for all high school math courses so that more students are placed in courses where they can reasonably expect to achieve success. Forty-four per cent of Grade 12 math students took advanced math 12, even though the course is designed for the top 20 per cent of students and for those who plan to take pure science or engineering degrees in university.
In advanced math 12, the highest mark scored was 100 per cent; the lowest was just five per cent.
"Many of our students are aiming high, and that's good," said Mr. Muir. "But it's also clear we need to make sure students choose the most appropriate courses for their career path."
Averages and pass rates in chemistry were lower this year, but the drop was not statistically significant. The average for chimie 12, written by French immersion students, dropped six per cent points this year to 52 per cent.
Grade 6 students again did well in reading, with 88 per cent meeting or exceeding expectations. The elementary literacy assessment, administered to almost 10,000 students last October, showed 79 per cent of students met or exceeded expectations for writing. In the 2004 assessment, 89 per cent met or exceeded expectations.
While writing success dipped for English-speaking students, the writing performance of Francophone students improved significantly, up four per cent this year to 68 per cent, meeting expectations. Eighty-three per cent of French-speaking Acadian students met expectations in reading.
The 2,555 students who did not meet expectations are now on literacy support plans.
"This is exactly why we do provincial assessments. They allow us to identify not only which students need help, but how the system is performing and where we need to improve," said Vince Warner, the province's director of evaluations and assessments.
The 2005 Minister's Report to Parents has been expanded this year and contains more information about student achievement provincially, nationally and internationally. Included for the first time are school-by-school results for the Elementary Literacy Assessment.
Teachers played a key major role developing, field-testing and marking the provincial assessments.
The 2005 Minister's Report to Parents is available on the website at www.ednet.ns.ca/pdfdocs/reports/2005MinistersReport-e.pdf
FOR BROADCAST USE:
Nova Scotia's Grade 12 students are getting better at
reading and writing, but continue to struggle with mathematics in
provincial exams, according to the 2005 edition of the Minister's
Report to Parents.
The fifth annual report card on student achievement revealed
improved assessment results over last year in a number of subject
areas, including physics, English and Grade 6 reading. The
provincial average on the academic Grade 12 English exam has
improved from 58 per cent in 2004 to 64 per cent in 2005.
But the provincial examination again showed lack of
improvement in Grade 12 mathematics.
Education Minister Jamie Muir says work is underway to
improve achievement in mathematics at all grade levels.
The Grade 6 literacy assessment, which was administered to
almost 10-thousand students last October, found 88 per cent of
students are meeting or exceeding expectations in reading,
compared with 79 per cent in writing.
Media Contact: Peter McLaughlin
Department of Education