News Release Archive

Nova Scotia students do as well or better than students across
Canada in science, according to a report on national test results
released in Toronto today. The report, part of the School
Achievement Indicators Program (SAIP), initiated by the Council
of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC), also showed girls
generally performed as well as boys in science.

Education and Culture Minister Robbie Harrison gave credit to
students and teachers for these encouraging results. "By bringing
a hands-on approach to science and by promoting teamwork,
students - both boys and girls - are enjoying science more and
becoming more confident in their abilities," said Mr. Harrison.
"I want to congratulate both students and teachers on these
positive results, which will be used to continue to build on this

In the spring of 1996 a random sample of 13 and 16-year-olds from
across Canada participated in either a written or a practical
science test. Results are reported across five levels of
achievement, with Level 5 being the highest. In Nova Scotia, for
the first time, results are reported separately for students who
wrote in French and English.

At age 16, most students are expected to achieve at Level 3 or
above. In the practical test, which deals with science inquiry
and problem-solving skills, 67.2 per cent of Nova Scotia students
who wrote in English achieved at Level 3 or above, compared to
the Canadian average at 64.6 per cent. In the written, which
deals with knowledge of science concepts, 68.5 per cent of Nova
Scotia students achieved at Level 3 or above, compared to 69 per
cent nationally. These differences are not considered
statistically significant.

Nova Scotia 16-year-olds who wrote in French led the rest of the
country in the written test, with 80.3 per cent at Level 3 or
above. In the practical component, 57.1 per cent achieved at this

At age 13, most students are expected to achieve at Level 2 or
above. In the practical component, anglophone students were right
at the Canadian average at 92.8 per cent. In the written, 73.3
per cent were at the expected level, compared to 71.9 per cent
nationally, no statistically significant difference. Of the
13-year-olds who wrote in French, 95 per cent performed at level
2 or above in the practical, while 73.7 performed at that level
in the written.

The national report points out that while most Canadian students
are performing at expected levels, more students should be
achieving at the highest levels. "As a province, we want to give
our students every opportunity to excel," said Mr. Harrison.
"This means providing adequate resources, continuing to involve
teachers in developing the best science program possible,
supporting our teachers through professional development, and
challenging our students to reach their full potential."

Mr. Harrison highlighted some of the work being done to
strengthen the Nova Scotia science program. Curriculum is being
revised at all grade levels, with the assistance of classroom
teachers and supported by professional development. Science is
also receiving greater emphasis at the elementary level. As well,
students entering Grade 10 this September will be required to
take additional science credits for graduation, which will give
students the opportunity to learn more science and achieve at
higher levels.

As part of the testing, students also completed an extensive
questionnaire concerning their school science experience,
attitudes and practices. About 90 per cent of students felt that
"lots of hard work" was the key requirement for success in
science. About three out of four students reported they liked
science. The most important contributor to interest in science
was science experiments, followed by class teamwork. The most
common science activity reported outside the classroom is
watching science programs on television.

The first phase of SAIP, which includes mathematics, reading and
writing, and science, is now complete. The second mathematics
test will be administered this spring, the next reading and
writing test is scheduled for 1998, and science will be repeated
in 1999.


Contact: Donna MacDonald  902-424-2615

trp                      Jan. 29, 1997 - 1:19 p.m.