Wednesday, 12 October 2011 15:56

Students’ scores come out smelling like a (prairie) rose

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By Rose Sanchez — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD) students are continuing to perform well on their provincial achievement tests and diploma exams, although some areas where more work needs to be done have emerged.

Brad Volkman, assistant superintendent, reported this year’s results of the provincial testing to the board of trustees at the Oct. 11 regular meeting.

“If you look at our actual achievement (test results) we’re doing pretty good, but compared to previous years, we’re a little bit lower,” said Volkman.

Grade 9 results were strong, especially in Language Arts and Math. Grade 3 results showed strong numbers in participation and acceptable categories, but results were lower than the Province in excellence and mean score categories.

Grade 6 results were lower than expected, especially in Language Arts and Social Studies.

Overall participation in Prairie Rose was higher on seven of the 10 exams than in the Province. For acceptable results, PRSD was higher than the Province on seven of 10 exams.

Where Prairie Rose struggles is with excellence and mean score results. Excellence results for PRSD were higher than the Province on two of 10 exams. Mean score results were three of 10 exams.

Superintendent Doug Nicholls told the board it is normal for test results to vary from year to year.

“While this is one snapshot, it’s an important snapshot,” he said. “We can see where we can improve, but we are encouraged by our participation rates.”

When it comes to diploma exam results, PRSD’s excellence results for last year were higher than the provincial results on five of 10 exams.

Acceptable results were higher  than the Province on seven of 10 exams.

The division’s strongest results were seen in Applied Math 30, English 30-2, Social 30-2, Chemistry 30 and Pure Math 30.

The lowest result was in Physics 30, where Prairie Rose was lower than the provincial average on all four measures. Low results were also seen in Biology 30, English 30-1 and Science 30.

Brian Andjelic, deputy superintendent, said officials were aware of issues with Physics 30 after the first semester testing. A teacher from the Edmonton area, who has students who perform well on the Physics 30 diploma exam, has been brought in to work with Physics teachers in Prairie Rose.

An interesting observation Volkman shared with the board, is the Achievement test results of Grade 9 students who, from three schools, took Social Studies and Math through video conferencing last year. Those students performed higher than the provincial and division averages.

“We still like to have teachers in front of our students, but in some of our smaller schools where we don’t have a Math expert, this is the next best thing,” said Volkman, about the video conferencing option.

Volkman finished his presentation by showing the board the number of students accessing the Rutherford scholarships last year. There were 77 in the division students who accessed the scholarship for post-secondary education, totalling $162,000.

Accountability Pillar

PRSD continues to show strong results in its annual “report card” to the province, known as the Accountability Pillar.

It’s meeting most goals of Alberta Education with good results for having safe and caring schools, education quality, as well as a high number of students who can access Rutherford Scholarships.

The only area where the division declined in its improvement was in acceptable results for diploma exams. That’s because it decreased from 88.1 last year to 85.7 this year.

Almost every other area was maintained. Improvement was seen in Excellence results for provincial achievement tests and citizenship.

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