News Release Archive

The first report comparing and measuring educational performance
across the Atlantic provinces was released today. The report
includes information on student achievement, education costs, a
student survey, class sizes, and graduation and drop out rates.

Education and Culture Minister Robbie Harrison said this report
contains good news for Nova Scotia. "Some excellent work is
obviously going on in our classrooms, thanks very much to the
quality and commitment of our teachers," said Mr. Harrison.
"However, everything is not perfect. By taking an honest look at
some of the issues, we can find solutions together, creating
opportunities for students, unequalled anywhere in the country."

In past national and international science, language arts and
mathematics tests, Nova Scotia students generally did as well,
and in some cases better, than the students in other Atlantic
provinces. However, students across Canada generally performed
below expectations in mathematics problem-solving. Nova Scotia is
addressing this concern, with a new elementary mathematics
curriculum focusing on problem-solving at an earlier age. New
provincial testing methods have been developed at elementary to
help pinpoint and correct any problems early on. At junior high
and high school, new approaches to problem-solving are now being
tested in schools. Graduation requirements in mathematics are
also being increased, beginning next September.

More Nova Scotians have attended post-secondary education than
ever before, 60 per cent, and, on average, in higher numbers than
anywhere across Canada, a 57 per cent average. Surprisingly,
given this statistic, Nova Scotia's drop out rate is estimated to
be the highest among the four Atlantic provinces at 15.9 per
cent. Part of this may be explained by the number of students who
return, or "drop back in" to school. These students do not get
counted, which may inflate the drop out rate. To get a clearer
picture of this, Nova Scotia is developing a computerized student
tracking system to monitor student progress throughout their
school years.  
Nova Scotia is heading in the right direction, seeing the
greatest increase in graduation rates among the Atlantic
provinces over four years. To continue moving in this direction,
more opportunities, including cooperative education, independent
study and local programming, are being developed to meet a wider
range of student interests and abilities.  

Marking another first in the report, Grade 8 students were asked
what they think of the education system. "Generally, students
were most positive when asked about their teachers, perceiving
them as fair and supportive in helping them learn," said Mr.
Harrison said. On the other hand, some students, about 3 out of
10, said they did not feel safe in school. Details of a pilot
project to promote safe schools, which could involve preventative
programs, professional development and community partnerships,
will be released later this fall. As well, student attitudes and
opinions can best be identified at the school level. School
advisory councils present opportunities to involve students as
part of the school team to build a sense of security and safe
schools. The department will also work with education partners on
monitoring and improving the school experience at junior high.

Although the differences among the Atlantic provinces were not
great, Nova Scotia was spending the most per student in 1993-94. 
Based on ability to pay, the four Atlantic provinces are
outpacing the rest of Canada. Per student, Nova Scotia spends 27
per cent of its gross domestic product on education, compared to
24.6 per cent nationally.

Class sizes have changed marginally over the past year with
little difference among provinces. In Nova Scotia, average high
school class sizes have dropped marginally from 23.5 in 1993-94
to 23.1 in 1994-95. As in the other provinces, primary to Grade 9
class size has increased marginally in Nova Scotia from 23.6 in
1993-94 to 23.9 in 1994-95. Although historical data is not
available for all provinces, Nova Scotia statistics show marginal
change in class size over the past number of years, moving from
22.8 in 1992-93 to 23.5 in 1995-96.

Copies of the full report, entitled Education Indicators For
Atlantic Canada are available by calling toll-free 


Editors Note: 
A backgrounder is available by calling Communications Nova Scotia
at 902-424-4492 or 1-800-670-4357. Materials are available in
English and French. 

Contact: Donna MacDonald 902-424-2615

jlw                      Sept. 26, 1996     1 p.m.