Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Math grades don't add up: trustee

Wants to know why lower here

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Rookie Winnipeg School Division trustee Mark Wasyliw wants to know why kids in Ontario and Quebec do better in math than our kids.

He filed a notice of motion at Monday evening's school board meeting that would call on WSD bureaucrats to find out why and to come up with ways that would help the division's students catch up with their counterparts to the east.

But Wasyliw didn't stop there -- he also wants board support to hire an outside consultant to find out how much student and teacher time was spent conducting the CAP (comprehensive assessment program) this past September and October, and how much classroom and curriculum time was lost.

Wasyliw also tabled a motion, which he had made public last month, that would require residential schools to be included in every grade's curriculum and require every school to hold a ceremony to recognize the federal government's apology for residential schools. The motions will be debated and voted upon at the May 7 board meeting.

Random testing conducted by the Council of Ministers of Education in Canada found Manitoba children ranked almost at the bottom nationwide in math.

A far larger proportion of Manitoba children performed at the lowest levels in math than anywhere else in the country.

If Manitoba can learn from Quebec and Ontario, Wasyliw said, "We need as a school board to be out front on this."

Meanwhile, CAP is one of the division's most cherished programs.

Up to Grade 6, teachers meet individually with each student over two months to assess that child's math and reading levels.

The Winnipeg Teachers Association has criticized CAP for the amount of classroom time it eats up; time when someone else watches the class while teachers hold individual meetings.

Late last year, the union said CAP takes so long each fall, WSD children may be losing a year's instruction in math by the time they graduate from Grade 6.

"Basically, it's the disconnect between the administration and the union" over conflicting claims of how long CAP takes, Wasyliw said.

"We haven't ever measured this, and it's been there for over a decade.

"We want to use class time responsibly, because it's at a premium," he said.

Several years ago, the division threatened to fire the union executive over its criticism of CAP, but a lengthy Manitoba Labour Board hearing sided with the teachers.

Meanwhile, trustee Anthony Ramos had two motions up for debate Monday night, calling on Premier Greg Selinger to discuss funding and facilities for special-needs students, and for Selinger to talk about funding school physical improvements to handle soaring enrolment in the northwest part of the division.

But, without offering an explanation, Ramos asked trustees to discuss his motions behind closed doors.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 17, 2012 B4

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