Combined classrooms concern teachers' association

Some schools on P.E.I. have added multi-grade classes in the wake of teacher cuts, to the frustration of the province's teacher's association.

Some schools on P.E.I. have added multi-grade classes in the wake of  teacher cuts, to the frustration of the province's teachers' association.

The province cut 34 positions last year and another 40 this year.

At many smaller schools on the Island combined classes are nothing new. The English Language School Board said as it stands about 26 out of 40 schools on the Island have some combined classes.

But the president of the of the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation said when one teacher has to teach two grade levels at once the teaching quality can suffer.

“It is double the workload and you have to match the curriculum up with the students' needs,” said Gilles Arsenault. “We’re stretching our teachers too thin when we're doing that.”

But over at the English School Board, the leader of curriculum delivery disagrees.

“When you're planning for two grade levels, it's different from planning with one grade level but we do have supports in place for teachers who are new to that,” said Tammy Hubley-Little.

“But really, once you've done it once you've done it.”

Hubley-Little said there's strong evidence that the makeup of a student's class has little impact on how well they learn.

She said all classrooms, no matter how many grades, will include students at varying levels.

“It's not unusual even in a class that would be even one grade for students to be working in slightly different areas of the curriculum.”

The English Language School Board said it’s confident students will start to see improved results on provincial assessments and international testing in the years ahead.

It said taking steps to improve teaching methods will have a greater impact on learning than class size or composition.


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