Math scores a problem for N.L.: report

James McLeod
Published on June 11, 2014

A report by the C.D. Howe institute shows that Newfoundland and Labrador has reason to be concerned about students’ test scores.

The report, based on an analysis of test scores by the Program for International Student Assessment, shows that 15-year-olds are losing ground on science and mathematics.

“Education is much more than training the next generation’s labour force, but the contribution to economic prosperity from a well-run primary and secondary school system is undeniable,” the report says. “There is solid evidence that economic growth in any country is a function of the academic abilities of the country’s workers.”

The report also looked at how well provinces’ educations systems do at separating school from social and family effects. By looking at economic, social and cultural status of students’ families, the report tries to see how well schools do at overcoming the effects of those issues.

“If we accord equal importance to average mathematics score and to gradient slope, the two provinces whose parents should be most concerned are those in Newfoundland and Manitoba,” the report author writes. “Both experienced average mathematics scores well below the Canadian average.”

The same issues that C.D. Howe is looking at were raised in the House of Assembly in late May, when Liberal MHA Dale Kirby brought up in the House of Assembly a couple of weeks ago.

Looking at the Program for International Student Assessment data, Kirby pointed asked Education Minister Darin King what’s being done to turn around math scores.

King acknowledged that there have been changes to the curriculum recently.

“A considerable amount of time and energy has gone into implementing the new mathematics curriculum, and, I might add, a considerable amount of money,” he said. “We recognize, Mr. Speaker, like any change, when you implement any change, there are going to be challenges and there are going to be people who have trouble adjusting.  We are committed to resourcing the system.  We are committed to providing the adequate professional development that teachers require and to supporting them in the classroom to ensure they are doing the best for our students.”

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