By Tim Kalinowski
Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD) staff presented the findings of the Annual Education Results Report to the division board at last Tuesday’s meeting in Dunmore. The results showed good improvement over last year’s numbers as a whole, but science is still an area of concern. Local students rank below the provincial average in general science, physics, biology and chemistry. The most severe disparity among the four sub-categories monitored in these subjects was in overall level of excellence, meaning in highest marks achieved. For example the provincial average for high marks per class in general science is 26.7 per cent of students. PRSD only has 7.1 per cent of students in the upper echelons markwise. Students did trend closer to provincial numbers on “acceptable” percentage and “exam average” percentage.
By contrast, English and Social Studies were subjects where PRSD students excelled beyond the provincial numbers.
The other part of the Annual Education Results Report presented Tuesday was the Accountability Pillar survey which was sent out to parents of all Grade 4, 7 and 10 students in the PRSD. The 2013/ 2014 Accountability Pillar showed parents were extremely concerned about Student Learning Achievement in Grades K-6 and the Continuos Improvement of their kids in the school system. The 2014/2015 Accountability Pillar showed parents were happier with the progress PRSD has made on both fronts in the last year. This year’s survey showed the majority of parents rated PRSD as “Good” to “Excellent” on most measures, and “Acceptable” in Student Learning Achievement, a significant improvement over one year ago.
Superintendent Brian Andjelic said he and his staff recognize there is “an issue” with local students’ science marks and were actively looking to apply new strategies to bridge the gap between provincial and local results.
“Science has been a bit of an issue for us lately,” acknowledged Andjelic. “We don’t think it has as much to do with science as it has to do with reading. These (science) tests have become very much a reading test, and we think that by having our kids become better readers that that will, by default, help on the exams as well.”
Andjelic said he was also pleased to see parents and students expressing more approval of their academic programs this year over last.
“In a small school division results do tend to wax and wane. It doesn’t take that many parents differing in an opinion, or that many kids or teachers, to have these (subjective) results go up and down a little. The (Accountability Pillar) survey results have improved for us this year, and we are definitely happy with that. And we credit our schools with the excellent work they are doing communicating with their parents. The strategy that is very common across Prairie Rose now is the use of social media to get the messages out. I think parents are more supportive of schools when they have a better idea of what’s going on.”