by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services
NNSL (Feb 12/97) - Northern students are lagging behind their southern counterparts, according to a Canada-wide report released recently.
Published by the Council of Ministers of Education, the report revealed that students in the NWT have consistently had the lowest scores in Canada since the program began four years ago.
Charles Dent, territorial minister of education, said that there will be a detailed analysis of the test results in April when he receives the data report.
More than 37,500 13-year-olds and 16-year-olds the first nation-wide science test in April 1996. The public section of the report was released on Jan. 29.
"It's tough to know from the information we've received so far as to what we can do," said Dent.
While this year's results indicate a weakness in science, two previous years of language arts and math testing revealed problems in those areas as well.
The NWT has always had one of the lowest scores, and it's one of the ongoing problems," said Dianne Pennock, co-ordinator of assessment for the School Achievement Indicators Program in Toronto.
"Maybe the language differences are a problem -- or the cultural differences or the environment itself may have an effect," she said.
Students in the three francophone provinces outside Quebec -- Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick -- also have amongst the lowest scores.
Results revealed that 40.6 per cent of 13-year-old students in the NWT scored at a level 3, compared to a Canadian average of 71.9 per cent at the same level.
Similarly, 44.4 per cent of 16-year-old NWT students scored at a level 3 or higher, compared with a Canadian average of 69 per cent.
Pennock said that the initiative to change the curriculum to bring up the scores is up to the NWT.
"They determine it, not us," she said.
Dent said that the results help the department focus on the areas of weakness, and change the curriculum accordingly.
The effectiveness of these changes will be evaluated this year as students will be tested in their math ability for the second time.
"Right now, we just have a quick snapshot and we don't yet have the detailed results," he said.