The North East School Division (NESD) is now testing Grade 4 and 5 students’ reading ability after a drop in the number of Grade 3 students reading at grade level.
There was a 7.7 per cent drop in Grade 3 division students reading at or above grade level, reaching a six-year low.
“We’ve added reading resources to Grades 4 and 5. Usually after Grade 3 we say that’s our ‘ready to read’ marker,” said Don Rempel, the NESD’s director of education. “We’re going to continue to work with high impact strategies for Grades 4 and 5 during the current school year to address the lost time and effort from last year.”
The data, shown earlier to the NESD board in September, showed a total of 70 per cent of Grade 3 students in the division in 2020-21 were reading at or above the grade level, a decrease of 7.7 per cent from 2018-19.
The drop mirrored a trend throughout the province which had the provincial average go down to 66.7 per cent of Grade 3 students reading at or above grade level.
For the division’s data, the NESD examined 326 total students with 46 identifying themselves as First Nation, Métis or Indigenous (FNMI). A total of 55.3 per cent of self-identified FNMI students are reading at grade level or above, compared to 72.3 per cent of non-FNMI students.
Rempel said that parents throughout the division in Grade 4 and 5 should be able to sit down with their Grade 4 or 5 child and find exactly where their reading levels are at, similar to the reading curriculum in Grades 1 to 3.
“It’s a leveled book guiding reading program, so they will know where they’re at in their reading, how much progress they’ve made and where they are comparative at grade level,” he said.
End of year results are expected to be analyzed by the board during the next school year.
Mark Jensen, the NESD’s co-ordinator of continuous improvement and reporting, posited in his presentation of the data to the board during their November meeting that the drop may be attributed at least in part to the disruptions to schooling and shifts to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic conditions.
After the meeting Marla Walton, the board’s vice-chair, echoed his comments.
“It was a very strange year, there were some students who for personal reasons or whatever their reasons were, went with an online model,” Walton said.
“They didn’t have that face-to-face interaction with the teacher so that may have contributed to those lower reading numbers, but it is something we will watch moving forward and I have complete faith in our teachers and our schools that they will address that gap and they work very, very hard to bring those students back up to a strong reading level.”