Students maintain learning levels despite challenges imposed by pandemic24 November 2021
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The 2020-21 provincial assessment results are now available online.
“I congratulate administrators, teachers and staff for their efforts gathering this data during the most extraordinary situation our school system has ever navigated,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “Thanks to the untiring effort of educators and support personnel, our students have been able continue their learning despite the numerous challenges imposed by the pandemic.”
Provincial assessments are conducted yearly for English and French reading; math; scientific literacy and French oral proficiency to target improvements and interventions in these subject areas. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some provincial assessments for the 2020-21 school year were paused to allow teachers and students to adjust to new health and safety measures.
However, students in the anglophone sector were able to participate in the English and French reading assessments and French oral proficiency testing.
In the francophone sector, a single provincial assessment – a Grade 2 reading test – was administered to Grade 3 students in November 2020 to measure the impact of pandemic-related school closures on reading proficiency. The results were compared with tests conducted in 2015 and 2016.
Findings of the 2020-21 assessments:
- English language proficiency results increased to 81.8 per cent compared to 78.1 per cent last year.
- There were slight increases in oral proficiency for Grade 10 and 12 anglophone students who entered the French immersion program in Grade 3.
- Declines for all students in the anglophone sector were generally minimal, below four percentage points, and were only slightly lower than the average last year.
- A total of 56.9 per cent of Grade 3 francophone students were successful on the Grade 2 reading test, compared with 74.7 per cent in 2015 and 77.2 per cent in 2016.
- Student perception surveys indicated anglophone students in Grades 11 and 12 maintained pre-pandemic levels of motivation, effort and perceptions of school. However, all grade levels reported increases in depression.
- Student perception surveys also showed anglophone students throughout middle and high school reported continued positive relationships with the adults in their schools despite the many changes, school closures and distance learning days resulting from the pandemic.
“While assessment results are better than expected, we know that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the mental well-being of many New Brunswickers and we anticipated that students would also be affected,” said Cardy. “That is why we have taken additional steps since the start of the pandemic to improve access to mental health services for students. This will continue to be a priority.”
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has been making incremental improvements to the assessment program. While some assessment results are not comparable to previous years due to changes in methodology, conclusions about the relative performance of students have been drawn by examining items that have been repeatedly assessed.
“Over the past school year and throughout this year, we have been working with teachers, school staff and students to determine the best use of learning supports and how we can best use our resources," said Cardy. “We will continue to use a variety of tools and proven strategies to help students in the coming months. These include classroom-based learning, reading programs implemented by districts and our partners, and working with families and parents in the development of their children's literacy skills.”
A performance management process is used to establish objectives and track progress. Before the beginning of each school year, the department works with school districts and key early childhood partners to develop an implementation plan for each sector, which outlines objectives for the year and how goals will be met.
Under the 10-year education plans, the goal is to have 85-90 per cent of students reach the appropriate level of success by 2025. The plans set objectives in priority areas to encourage students to become lifelong learners, create an inclusive learning environment, support educational leaders and bring stability to the system.