Halifax Grade 4 students lead N.S. to strong showing in assessment test
By KRISTEN LIPSCOMBE Education Reporter
Nova Scotia students may be realizing that reading is, well, kind of cool.
According to a worldwide reading assessment called the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, Grade 4 students from across the province scored above average when it came to cracking the books.
More than 4,400 students at about 200 randomly selected schools took the test in April and May of 2006, a news release issued Wednesday by the Education Department said.
“Nova Scotia students outperformed England, the United States and 26 other countries in the assessment, scoring 42 points above the PIRLS average of 500,” the release reads. Forty-five countries and province participated in the study.
Education Minister Karen Casey said literacy remains one of her departmentâ€™s top priorities.
“It is important to see how we measure up against the rest of the world and I am pleased with how well our Grade 4 students have done,” she said in the release.
Geoff Cainen, program director for Halifax regional school board, said Grade 4 students in the city performed especially well on the PIRLS assessment.
“We are well above the mean of 500 and well above the Nova Scotia mark of 542,” Mr. Cainen said during Wednesday nightâ€™s board meeting in downtown Dartmouth.
“Halifax is the leading board in this province and is on the very cusp of being in what would be considered . . . the top performing countries in the world,” he said.
Mr. Cainen said about 38 per cent of the elementary students who took the test are from the cityâ€™s school board and pointed out that large confidence intervals affect the statistic significance of the final numbers.
Nevertheless, he said, the school board should be proud of the accomplishments of its young students.
Board superintendent Carole Olsen said in a news release that “thereâ€™s no question we are seeing real progress.”
“We have been unwavering in our determination to improve the literacy skills of our students,” Ms. Olsen said. “These results reaffirm our belief that focused professional development for teachers combined with targeted literacy support for our schools makes a world of difference for students.”
Both news releases pointed out that girls outperformed boys in the test results, by 22 points across the province and by 17 points in the cityâ€™s schools.
“It is obvious that we need to do more to engage boys when it comes to reading,” Ms. Casey said.