National math test on level: minister

Teachers, trustees have suspicions

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EDUCATION Minister Nancy Allan says she isn't suspicious about schools in other provinces not writing a national math test in which Manitoba students finished second-worst.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 11/05/2012 (3863 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

EDUCATION Minister Nancy Allan says she isn’t suspicious about schools in other provinces not writing a national math test in which Manitoba students finished second-worst.

Every Manitoba school selected randomly by the Council of Canadian Ministers of Education (CMEC) to write the test in 2010 subsequently wrote the test.

But significant numbers of randomly selected schools in Quebec and Ontario, which finished first and second, respectively, and well above other provinces and territories, did not write.

The Manitoba Teachers’ Society and Manitoba School Boards Association have raised concerns about how and why those schools were exempt, if they may have been below-average schools academically and if their opting-out affected the rankings of national test scores.

Did the schools that opted out of taking the math test have high numbers of students from impoverished backgrounds, suffering from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) or characterized by other conditions affecting academic performance?

“It is true that Manitoba is the only province in which all selected schools participated,” Allan said in a written statement.

“There is no reason to believe that schools were systematically removed from the process for reasons other than those deemed acceptable to the CMEC.”

Teachers’ society president Paul Olson said earlier this week the majority of provinces and territories were clustered so closely to Manitoba in the overall scores that any differences were minute variables, statistically meaningless and within the CMEC’s own margin of error.

Teachers and trustees have also questioned whether differing math curricula affected test scores.

No, said Allan.

“It is true that curricula differ across provinces and territories. Quebec and Ontario curricula differ from each other, while western Canadian jurisdictions share a common curricular framework under the Western and Northern Canadian Protocol (WNCP) for collaboration in education,” Allan said.

The test “is designed based on a common framework that is written in advance of the test. In addition to presenting the theoretical framework, this document outlines the assessment blueprint, which includes the curricular outcomes and skills and their proportions, that will be used as specifications for the development of the test,” the minister said.

“This framework is approved by all jurisdictions with regard to content and goals before each main administration. Manitoba approved the framework and felt it was appropriate for our students,” Allan said.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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