Inclusive classrooms need more resources to curb low test scores

The president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association says teachers in the province are working hard, but success on standardized tests has not yet materialized.

Education officials agree many issues at play, but teachers need more support

NBTA president Guy Arseneault says low test scores on standardised tests are the result of a number of complex issues. (CBC)

The president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association says teachers in the province are working hard, but success on standardized tests has not yet materialized.

Last week, the province released a report saying Anglophone schools weren't meeting assessment targets.

Only 20 per cent of Grade 6 students were successful in math and only 26 per cent in science. Only 54 per cent were successful on the reading assessment.

"We are not surprised by the numbers. We are certainly disappointed by the numbers," said NBTA president Guy Arseneault on Information Morning Fredericton Tuesday.

Arseneault agrees with Education Minister Brian Kenny that the reasons behind the low test scores are complex, but classroom composition - or inclusion - has been front and centre.

When asked for an example of classroom composition, Arseneault painted this picture of an existing high school English class with 28 students:

  • Two students speak English as a second language
  • 12 students have personal learning plans
  • One student is on the autism spectrum
  • Two have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and another has Attention Deficit Disorder
  • 11 students require they be given oral exams
  • 10 need scribes to write on their behalf
  • Five of the students have attendance issues
  • Two have mental health concerns
  • and only two can read at grade level.

NBTA supports inclusive classrooms

Terry Seguin talks to the NB Teachers' Association president about those dismal provincial assessments. 13:50
While some believe students with behavioural and learning issues may affect other students in the classroom, Arseneault says the association supports inclusive classrooms.

"We thinks it's an asset," he said.

But Arseneault also said there's a cost and it is "not fair to put children in a classroom without the proper resources."

He said there should be a policy review done by the Department of Education, which wouldn't cost taxpayers anything, and might identify more effective uses for current resources.

"Free them up so they can teach," said Arseneault. "And give them good supports."

Many issues may have negatively affected scores

The superintendent for the Anglophone East School District agrees the issue of falling test scores is complex, but still wants to find a specific cause.
The superintendent of the Anglophone East School District Gregg Ingersoll says all four of the province's Anglophone school districts saw declines in standardised test scores this year, which begs the questions "what would cause that?" The solution, all agree, will be complex. (CBC)

"When all four of the Anglophone districts drop by about the same amount, that begs the questions what would cause that?" said Gregg Ingersoll, during an interview with Information Morning Moncton.

He also addressed classroom composition.

"Today teachers, when you talk to them about inclusion, they talk about behaviour and they say it's the behaviours that they feel are getting in the way," said Ingersoll.
The superindendent for the Anglophone East School District reacts to low test scores 16:03

He said teachers are now attending a two-day course offered by the Canadian Mental Health Association to better understand today's behavioural concerns.