Cheryle Beaumont

Cheryle Beaumont

School district aims at boosting skills

Just 31 per cent of Grade 9 students in the 2009-2010 school year met numeracy skills

Two out of every three Langley Grade 9 students can’t solve math problems by themselves, according to a just-released report prepared by Langley school district superintendent Cheryle Beaumont.

The numbers cited in the annual “Superintendent’s Report on Achievement” show just 31 per cent of Grade 9 students in the 2009-2010 school year met “numeracy” skills, which are defined by the provincial ministry of education as the ability to appropriately apply mathematical concepts and procedures without a teacher at their side.

That left 69 per cent who required some help or “close, ongoing assistance” by an instructor.

Beaumont, in her report, notes the district is trying to determine the impact poor Grade 9 math skills may be having on graduation rates, since students who have trouble with the more advanced math of secondary school may be less likely to finish Grade 12.

The report flags a number of other areas of concern.

It shows that roughly one out of every five Grade 1 Langley students finished the 2010 school year unable to read short, simple illustrated selections on their own.

That is based on numbers released by the school district and the provincial education ministry that show 246 of 1359 or 18 per cent of pupils “left Grade 1 still not reading at grade level.”

Provincial standards state a Grade 1 student will “fully meet expectations” for literacy when they can read short age-appropriate passages independently.”

The Grade 1 stats still represent an improvement from the previous school year when 364 of 1296 or 35 per cent of Grade 1 students failed to meet expectations.

“The district is committed to having all students reading at grade level by the end of Grade 3,” the Beaumont report states.

Langley Grade 10 students showed a drop in reading skills, with the percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations falling from 93 per cent in the 2008-2009 school year to 85 per cent in 2009-2010.

The news is not all bad. In most categories, student performance is improving.

Overall, the number of students who graduate Grade 12 has increased from 78 per cent in 2008 to 83 per cent in 2010, the report states, better than the provincial average.

However, boys are lagging behind girls, with 78 per cent of male students gradating Grade 12 compared to 87 per cent of female students.

Langley First Nations students still have a relatively high drop-out rate, with four out of 10 failing to graduate Grade 12. That’s still better than the provincial average for aboriginal students.

Only one in two Langley graduates goes on to university or college-level studies.

“While 2009-2010 was undoubtedly a very challenging year, we have made remarkable progress,” Beaumont said in a written memo to district trustees.

“Much work remains to be done. However, the initial areas of the district that needed to be stabilized are being addressed and the work is underway.”