Nine out of 10 Eighth-Graders Meeting Expectations in Science: Study

By McQuigge, Michelle | The Canadian Press, October 7, 2014 | Go to article overview

Nine out of 10 Eighth-Graders Meeting Expectations in Science: Study


McQuigge, Michelle, The Canadian Press


Grade 8 students understand science: study

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TORONTO - A new broad-based study of most of Canada's Grade 8 students suggests the vast majority take a solid grasp of science with them into their high school years.

The Pan-Canadian Assessment Program, administered every three years by a group representing provincial education ministers, looks at academic performance in reading, science and math among students in their final year of middle school.

During each cycle, the program puts its primary focus on one discipline, providing detailed statistics on that area, while offering more cursory overviews of the other two.

Tuesday's results, which focus on science, were based on test scores from 32,000 students in all 10 provinces, but not the territories.

The test found 91 per cent of students could perform at or above the expected grade level in science. It also found average reading and math scores had risen very slightly from levels recorded in 2010.

The latest results, released by the Council of Ministers of Education Canada, mark the first time that science has come under a national microscope. Results gathered in 2007 and 2010 trained the spotlight on reading and math, respectively.

Gordon Dirks, Alberta education minister and chairman of the council of education ministers, said the latest science results bode well for Canada's future.

"Science is such a very important domain to our country," Dirks said in a telephone interview. "It's a domain that is vital to education, to economic development, to the future success of Canada. We need to ensure that our students are getting the kind of quality education in science that our country expects and requires of our various education systems."

Dirks said the test questions were not based on any one provincial curriculum. They were instead developed around elements common to all curricula, such as the characteristics of a sound scientific experiment.

Dirks said he was particularly encouraged by the lack of a gender gap on the science scores, which showed girls and boys performing equally well across the board.

Parity was not so easily achieved among the provinces.

Alberta and Ontario recorded the top science scores, with British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador also scoring at or above the national average.

Manitoba logged the lowest scores not only in science, but in all three disciplines.

Education Minister James Allum said the scores were disappointing and outlined a plan to boost results next time. The province is going to target teacher education, school preparedness and help teachers prepare students for test-taking, he said. …

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