Friday, February 21, 1997

Test scores don't tell the story

At first glance, the NWT results in a nation-wide science test look dismal.

Written by 37,500 Canadian students from age 13 to 16, the Northern test scores were substantially lower than the national average.

The territorial government has yet to analyze the figures but they are unlikely to learn anything the education community doesn't already know -- culture is largely responsible for the lower scores.

This theory is supported by the fact that the three provinces with large Francophone populations also scored low.

So what the scores really tell us is that Northern students, particularly Dene and Inuit, don't fit the mould of the majority of Canadian English speaking students.

While the goal of Northern educators is to get those low scores higher, they also have to be mindful that Dene and Inuit cultures must not suffer in the process. Nor should there be any discussion of lowering standards.

Dene and Inuit students can meet national standards with their culture intact but, in many cases, it will take more time and different approaches. Time is not the yardstick to measure education, steady progress is.

Yellowknife parents, most of whom are non-aboriginal, and who may be worried about their children's quality of education, can take comfort from the results of Alberta Education Provincial Achievement Tests conducted in the public school board's French immersion program last year.

Those test scores placed Yellowknife's French immersion students equal to or higher than Alberta's students.

We can be confident these same standards and results exist throughout the public school board and are shared by the Catholic school board schools as well. (19/Feb/97)

Cheap heat

Ordinary members of the legislature are flexing their muscles over fuel subsidies for senior citizens. They want the subsidy restored until a complete study of the funding is completed.

A comprehensive review is in order. At the moment, there is no assistance for seniors who live in their own homes, but those who live in public housing don't pay either rent or utilities. In a time of fiscal restraint, such universality is a luxury we can do without.

Those who can should pay for their fuel, but no senior citizen should fear going without heat. (19/Feb/97)


Sports pages of most newspapers have a tendency to exaggerate every little victory and transform even defeat into something more noble, and Yellowknifer's are no exception.

It is with great pleasure, then, that we salute curler Tara Hamer, a member of the junior ladies' national championship rink, which won a nail-biter in Selkirk, Man., on Sunday.

Jamie Koe's junior men's rink, meanwhile took bronze at the same event, which still puts them among an elite few.

When it comes to curling Yellowknifers are among the best. And that's no exaggeration. (19/Feb/97)