Students falling test scores indicate need for more teachers, says union

By Adam Inniss

Academic performance is down for students in grades three to 10. Recently released scores from the province's Academic Assessment Test show a two-six per cent fall in math comprehension and one-five per cent fall in English reading and writing comprehension, with an exception for grade 8 students who scored 1 per cent higher.

The president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, Ryan Lutes, says this represents a lack of supports for teachers.

“I don’t want to put a lot of stock in one standardized test, it's only part of the story. But I hear from teachers every day that we are struggling to meet students needs,” said Lutes.

According to Lutes, since COVID-19 began, teachers have been fighting to keep their classrooms up to speed, “it's like trying to solve a 1,000 piece puzzle with 90 pieces,” he said.

One of the main reasons for this struggle, according to Lutes, is increased absences. More teachers are home frequently with COVID-19 or other respiratory illnesses. He also says there has been a general shortage of teachers and supply teachers.

“We ask ourselves every day 'are we going to have enough teachers to provide the right service for kids,' the answer across the schools is often no,” says Lutes.

The Province has announced changes to school programs and curriculum to help increase learning levels. They announced various programs geared toward increasing phonic awareness, physical activity and mathematic comprehension. While the Union agrees these updates are good, they have questions about implementation.

“Any changes that the system makes, even good changes, can not be implemented in a good way if they are not fully funded.”

Lutes says teachers need smaller class sizes, more prep time, more resources and materials and over all more colleagues. 

“We can’t be expected to improve things if we’re struggling to stay afloat.”


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