New Westminster school district's superintendent presented his annual report on student achievement in the district, which highlighted that writing is solid, reading is decent, but math at some schools has declined in grades 4 and 7.
John Woudzia shared his report with the board of education at its committee meeting on Tuesday, where he noted that Grade 7 writing achievement was at its highest level for the district, with 94 per cent of students assessed meeting or exceeding expectations.
The New Westminster school district's Grade 7 writing is at the 92nd percentile.
"Ninety-two percentile of students in other districts scored below us," Woudzia said. "So that's a pretty impressive achievement."
But the numbers aren't as good when it comes to math. The district's math marks in grades 4 and 7 dropped in the past year at some schools. Woudzia's report noted that administrators and teachers at the schools where results are declining would be involved in understanding and remedying the situation.
Trustee MaryAnn Mortensen asked what it would take to implement a numeracy program across the district.
Sandra Pace, the district's director of instruction, said it would cost money. (The district currently cash-strapped - it has a $2.8 million deficit from last year and is facing another deficit this year if it doesn't start making cuts.)
"It's a gravy problem," Pace said.
Board chair Michael Ewen said it would be "interesting" to look into having a district tool for numeracy development.
More than a decade ago, the district developed SmartLearning, a learning program that boosted reading and writing in New Westminster.
Another point of improvement, Woudzia noted was that writing achievement for Grade 7 boys was similar to that of girls.
At the high-school level, more than 90 per cent of students completing English 12 and Communications 12 passed their course with at least a C plus.
Six-year completion rates for aboriginal students declined from last year but are still above previous years' level, Woudzia said.
The Foundation Skills Assessment test and provincial course and examination results provided the data for Woudzia's findings.
The Foundation Skills Assessment is a controversial provincewide test that some parents choose to have their children refrain from taking because they disagree with the test and the fact that it is used by the Fraser Institute to rank schools. Results are impacted when students do no take the test, Pace told the board.
Another concern is that provincial exam results at the pass level (C minus or better) are strong, but the district would like to see more students achieve at higher levels (C plus or better). As well, the district continues to seek ways to increase the achievement of boys to the levels achieved by girls, the report said.
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