Education report fails Yukon students

Yukon students test scores rank among the lowest in Canada, according to a recent study. The Pan-Canadian Assessment Program assessed the ability of…

Yukon students test scores rank among the lowest in Canada, according to a recent study.

The Pan-Canadian Assessment Program assessed the ability of 13-year-olds across the country in reading, math and science.

The random test was not conducted in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

The Yukon did OK in reading, though it ranked below the national average. It placed somewhere in the middle of the pack.

However, the territory flunked the other two subjects.

In math, Yukon students ranked at the bottom of the list, just ahead of PEI.

And the territory was dead last in science.

Whitehorse Elementary School Council member Keith Halliday expected the territory would do poorly in the testing, but not this bad, he said.

“But the thing that’s really new about these results is not the test scores themselves, but the data they have about the distribution of the test scores.”

According to the report, 18 per cent of the students tested did very well and 18 per cent did very poorly.

“That is more of a barbell effect than in most places in Canada,” said Halliday.

“What I think this means is that there’s really no average student in the Yukon — there are some kids headed for university that are doing really well and that we need to support.

“And then there’s also a large number of kids that are really struggling with the core skills.”

This is where the territory could deploy more resources, like learning assistance, reading recovery and things like the Whole Child Program, said Halliday.

“I think this is real evidence that there’s a group of kids that really need more help than they’re getting from the school system.”

The evidence isn’t quite as concrete for Yukon Teachers’ Association president Jim Tredger.

“There’s quite a variation between what rural children do and urban children do,” said Tredger.

“Since the assessment included all of our children it would change the results somewhat.”

The territory’s small size also skewed the numbers, he said.

All Yukon 13-year-old students participated in the assessment.

“While all of our children write it, only some of the children in the south write it,” said Tredger.

“Certainly we will be looking at the results and some of the implications and working with the department of education to improve our standing.

“We’re trying to get an accurate assessment of where our children stand and we’re looking at various tests and various kinds of tests to make sure that our children do well when they go and compete for jobs across Canada.”

Prince Edward Island also performed very poorly in the assessment.

After the results came out, PEI’s Education Minister Gerard Greenan said it was a problem and pledged more money for programs.

“It seems to be taking this quite seriously and is concerned about it,” said Halliday.

“And the minister’s comments showed that they’re taking it seriously.”

The Yukon announced it will decrease education funding by 2.7 per cent in the upcoming budget — a $2.4-million cut.

Instead of offering solutions, the Education department is attacking the Pan Canadian Assessment Program’s test, said Halliday.

“This is the most authoritative testing we have in Canada, so it seems a bit worrying.”

Education officials blame the low test scores on the small number of Yukon students tested.

The numbers may be skewed, but not necessarily against the territory, said Halliday.

As many as 5.9 per cent of students were exempted from taking the test because of low abilities.

The national average for this exemption was only 3.6 percent.

Also, 9.1 per cent of students in the territory were absent during the day of the testing — the highest rate of absenteeism in the country.

“So that means, in some sense, the numbers on the earlier pages may actually overstate our performance.”

“Other than working with many partners and cutting the public school budget and cutting teacher positions, what does the minister propose to do to address this alarming situation?” asked Liberal MLA Eric Fairclough in the legislature on Thursday.

“We recognize there are areas we need to improve on, which was one of the initiatives behind the education reform project and some of the reasons behind changes in curriculum and the changes in programming,” said Education Minister Patrick Rouble.

“We’ll continue to work in all areas of the education system in order to close the performance gap between those people who are performing well and those who aren’t and to increase the performance level of all in our system.”

The Pan-Canadian Assessment Program was not a true measure of students’ skills, said Education officials.

However, students have not been performing well in the Yukon Achievement Test either.

Students have performed below Education’s goals in eight out of 11 categories.

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
Yukon logs nine new COVID-19 cases, 54 active cases

More CEMA enforcement officers have been recruited, officials say

Yukon paleontologists Grant Zazula (left) and Elizabeth Hall (right) examine mammoth fossils in Whitehorse on June 10. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mammoth bones discovered at Dawson mine site

“So this is just a start, hopefully, we’re going to be learning a lot.”

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker plead guilty to offences under the Yukon’s Civil Emergency Measures Act for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Couple who broke isolation rules to get vaccines in Beaver Creek fined $2,300

Crown and defence agreed on no jail time for Rod and Ekaterina Baker


Wyatt’s World for June 16, 2021.… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Yukon News file)
COVID-19 outbreak surges to 50 active cases in the Yukon

Officials urge Yukoners to continue following guidelines, get vaccinated

Jonathan Antoine/Cabin Radio
Flooding in Fort Simpson on May 8.
Fort Simpson asked for military help. Two people showed up.

FORT SIMPSON—Residents of a flooded Northwest Territories village expected a helping hand… Continue reading

A woman was rescued from the Pioneer Ridge Trail in Alaska on June 16. (Photo courtesy/AllTrails)
Alaska hiker chased off trail by bears flags down help

ANCHORAGE (AP)—An Alaska hiker who reported needing help following bear encounters on… Continue reading

Two participants cross the finish line at the City of Whitehorse Kids Triathlon on June 12 with Mayor Dan Curtis on hand to present medals. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
2021 Kids’ Triathlon draws 76 young athletes

Youth ages five to 14 swim, run and bike their way to finish line

NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq rises in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Unacceptable’ that Inuk MP felt unsafe in House of Commons, Miller says

OTTAWA—It’s a “sad reflection” on Canada that an Inuk MP feels she’s… Continue reading

Lily Witten performs her Canadian Nationals beam routine on June 14. John Tonin/Yukon News
Three Yukon gymnasts break 20-year Nationals absence

Bianca Berko-Malvasio, Maude Molgat and Lily Witten competed at the Canadian Nationals – the first time in 20 years the Yukon’s been represented at the meet

For the second year running, the Yukon Quest will not have 1,000 mile race. Crystal Schick/Yukon News
The Yukon Quest will be two shorter distance events instead of a 1,000 mile race

After receiving musher feeback, the Yukon Quest Joint Board of Directors to hold two shorter distances races instead of going forward with the 1,000 mile distance

It’s been a long time since most Yukoners have seen downtown Skagway. (Andrew Seal/Yukon News file)
What Canada-U.S. border changes could mean for Alaska travel

The federal government is expected to make an announcement on Monday

A rendering of the proposed new city hall/services building and transit hub. (City of Whitehorse/submitted)
City building plans move forward

Council approves procurement going ahead

Most Read