By John DeCoste
School board officials are “absolutely delighted” at the latest results from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).
Superintendent of schools Margo Tait confirmed in her Jan. 9 report to the board that the 2011 PIRLS results for the Grade 4 level were released recently.
A total of 45 jurisdictions worldwide were included in the results and Tait was pleased and encouraged that “only six of the 45 fared better than Nova Scotia.”
Nova Scotia “was the only province (in Canada) to show a significant improvement” since the previous PIRLS assessment in 2006.
The PIRLS is administered every five years by the International Association of Educational Achievement.
Approximately 4,400 Nova Scotia Grade 4 students from 203 schools took part in the 2011 assessment, which measured student reading achievement through a series of standard tests.
The report noted PIRLS 2011 was “the second administration of the assessment for Nova Scotia, making possible a comparison of our 2011 performance with that of 2006.”
According to the report, Nova Scotia Grade 4 students ”performed well, with an estimated average score of 549, just above the estimated average for Canada of 548.”
These scores, in turn, “strongly exceed” the International Centrepoint of 500.
Overall, Nova Scotia was third among Canadian provinces behind B.C. and Ontario, and was ”the only province, of those which participated in both administrations, to show improved performance.”
Nova Scotia boys tended to do better in the 2011 assessment than in 2006, closing in on the girls, who have traditionally scored better.
Tait confirmed the score for boys in Nova Scotia is now, on average, just 13 points below the average score for girls, down from a 22-point difference in 2006.
The report stated that “though a modest change,” the 2011 results “constitute statistically significant improved performance.”
Specific to the AVRSB, students from this board scored an average of 549, right on the Nova Scotia average and an increase of nine percentiles over their performance in 2006.
The AVRSB’s plus nine was third among Nova Scotia’s eight boards, behind only Halifax and the province-wide Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial (CSAP) which represents only four per cent of the province’s student population.
“We are very proud of our students and staff for these positive results on an international assessment. All too often, we don’t take the time we should to celebrate our successes and good-news stories,” she said.
“This is one indication our focus on early literacy development is having the desired effect, and that our children are benefitting from the excellent work of school-based and regional staff. Our efforts in this regard are paying off.”