Manitoba

Teachers critical of student assessment program

The Winnipeg School Division is reviewing its student assessment program to see if it is robbing teaching time.

Winnipeg School Division to review program's worth

What is CAP?


The comprehensive assessment program, used in schools in the Winnipeg School Division, provides a screening process to assess each student’s strengths and weaknesses upon school entry and throughout the elementary years.

It enables school personnel to understand each child’s needs and to develop an appropriate educational program.

Each teacher closely observes social and emotional growth, speech and language development, creativity, literacy and numeracy awareness, thinking skills and motor development.

The results are reviewed to identify children requiring intervention.

SOURCE: Winnipeg School Division

Winnipeg's largest school division is reviewing its student assessment program to see if it is robbing teaching time.

Winnipeg School Division trustee Mark Wasyliw says the comprehensive assessment program (CAP) will be reviewed internally because many teachers, and even some principals, say it is taking longer than thought.

Teachers were originally told it should take 25 minutes to assess each student, but Wasyliw says teachers have told him it actually takes about three days for every single student.

That adds up to a lot of time with a class of 20 students.

"That's eight weeks of the school year just assessing kids without necessarily teaching them. And that's putting our children at a huge disadvantage," Wasyliw said.

Over the course of the program's seven years, from Kindergarten to Grade 7, a student could lose up to a year's worth of class time, he added.

The problem is, no one really knows if the allegations about the amount of time it takes to conduct the CAP are accurate.

"We don't know if this is just anecdotal and it's the worst example out there that gets thrown out when we talk about this, or if this is a systemic problem," Wasyliw said, noting no data on the amount of time has ever been recorded.

"Without that data, we simply don't know if we have a problem and what needs fixing. My motion is, for the school year coming up (in the fall), to start measuring this so we can have some hard numbers.

"If it turns out to be true, then there's a real serious problem that needs to be fixed. If it is [using up teaching time] we've got to do something right away."

The CAP has been used by the school division since 2000.

It is intended to be a strategic planning tool that provides teachers with a "road map" on how to administer their lessons, based on their students' abilities.

But if it is hurting students by robbing them of class time then something needs to be done as soon as possible, said Wasyliw.

It could simply be a matter of adjusting how the teachers are applying the CAP, if they are conducting the assessments improperly and taking too long, he said.

Or it could be a matter of scrapping it altogether.

Failing grades


Manitoba's Grade 8 students do worse in reading, science and mathematics than students in almost every other province, according to the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program, which measures reading, mathematics and science achievement.

The latest assessment was carried out in 2010.

The rankings are:

MATHEMATICS

                                                                                                                       

Quebec

Ontario
Alberta
British Columbia
New Brunswick
Saskatchewan
Nova Scotia
Newfoundland and Labrador
Manitoba
Prince Edward Island

SCIENCE

                                                                                                                                   
Alberta
Ontario
British Columbia
Prince Edward Island
Nova Scotia
Saskatchewan
Newfoundland and Labrador
New Brunswick
Quebec
Manitoba
Yukon

READING

                                                                                                                                   
Ontario
Alberta
British Columbia
Saskatchewan
Nova Scotia
Newfoundland and Labrador
Quebec
Prince Edward Island
New Brunswick
Manitoba
Yukon

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