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        Concern expressed about middle school students in District 17 (Canada) (11/26/2011)

Concern expressed about how students are taught at middle level

District 17 | Latest round of literacy and numeracy scores concerns director

Published Saturday November 26th, 2011

District 17's director of education said based on the latest round of literacy and numeracy scores he's concerned about how students are being taught at the middle level.

In a presentation to district education council this week, Rick Demmings said the assessment scores show students in the district following provincial trends with elementary and high school level successes in literacy and middle level struggles in math, he's concerned about Grade 7 literacy scores.

"We have kids doing well in Grade 4 so what's happening in Grade 7?" he said.

"Really, it's our middle level that seems to be a mystery."

The district target for reading and writing in Grade 7 is 85 per cent.

Based on the Grade 7 assessment results, only 69 per cent of students in the district achieved or surpassed that goal in reading and 43 per cent were able to do reach or surpass the goal in writing.

Provincially, those numbers are slightly higher with 70 per cent achieving or surpassing the goal in reading and 53 per cent achieving or surpassing the goal in writing.

While most assessments are done in the spring, Demmings said Grade 7 students are assessed in the fall, meaning the results go beyond the Grade 7 classroom.

"It's really about Grade 5 and Grade 6," he said.

"So what's going on in Grade 5 and Grade 6 literacy because those kids being tested in Grade 7 are only in Grade 7 for about the third month?"

Demmings said the district is already moving to address the problem by sharing the assessment information with principals and looking for opportunities to provide teacher training.

But he said in order for change to happen, the district will need help from all stakeholders - teachers, parents and students.

"It's everyone's game," he said.

"Parents have a role to play, students obviously have a role to play because there's two people in the room, the student and the teacher and it has to be a two way street.

"Our district improvement plan is focusing on the whole child. We're really into the whole child thing. So it's having those kids be happier kids in middle level. A happier student is more willing to do better in school, working on the whole health issues there, exercise, understanding them better, not just the academics, working on the whole package."

Demmings said he expects discussions on how to strengthen education at the middle level to play a part when the district begins discussing how to allot resources, such as literacy and numeracy leads as part of next year's budget.

School District 17 encompasses Oromocto, Oromocto First Nation, Burton, Coles Island, Geary and Lower Lincoln, villages of Cambridge-Narrows, Chipman, Fredericton Junction, Gagetown and Minto.

http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/cityregion/article/1459123