New Brunswick

Grade 2 anglophone literacy results down 12% since 2010

A literacy advocate is calling on New Brunswickers to be "outraged" about the latest provincial assessment results, which show an increasing number of anglophone students are failing to achieve reading targets set by government.

Erin Schryer, of Elementary Literacy, is disappointed New Brunswickers aren't discussing provincial assessment

Provincial assessment results for 2015-16 show New Brunswick students are failing to achieve provincial targets in reading, as well as writing and mathematics. (Shutterstock/Syda Productions)

A literacy advocate is calling on New Brunswickers to be "outraged" about the latest provincial assessment results, which show an increasing number of anglophone students are failing to achieve reading targets set by government.

Erin Schryer, the executive director of Elementary Literacy Inc., says the results are a concern and the lack of discourse is disappointing.

We're talking about our children.- Erin Schryer, Elementary Literacy

She notes "people went crazy" about the Atlantic Lottery Corporation audit released earlier this week, but have been all but silent about the Department of Education's 2015-16 test scores.

Only 73.8 per cent of Grade 2 anglophone students were successful on the provincial reading assessment, compared to the target of 90 per cent, the results released on Wednesday show.

That represents a 12 per cent decrease since 2010 — or about 1,330 children, stressed Schryer.

Among Grade 6 anglophone students, only 54.1 per cent were successful on the provincial reading assessment, which is far short of the target of an 85 per cent success rate.

"Where are our priorities? We say it's education and literacy … Why isn't there that type of discourse [the ALC audit generated] around education?"

"We're talking about our children."

Erin Schryer, executive director of Elementary Literacy Inc. (Twitter)
Literacy contributes to a healthy, happy society, and research has shown Grade 2 is a "critical point," said Schryer. If students aren't reading well by then, "the likelihood of them reading well ever is not good."

It's also more expensive to intervene at a later stage, she said. "We need to work at doing a better job at preventing reading difficulties."

Guy Arseneault, president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association, is not surprised by the provincial assessment results.

"We have been telling government for years that the needs in the system outweigh the resources given to schools and teachers to meet them," he said in a statement.

"Teachers are working hard, but they can't do it all on their own. These assessments are a systems check and the results indicate that work needs to be done."

10-year plan could help

The association supports the government's recently released 10-year education plan, which makes addressing needs in literacy and numeracy key priorities, said Arseneault.

"Teachers have the frontline experience and expertise that are essential in order to make this plan a success. We are committed to working together on these goals."

Schryer is also optimistic the government's plan, entitled Everyone at their best, will help improve literacy scores. "I have a great deal of faith that it will."

The plan includes an education priority unit, which has prioritized literacy between kindergarten and Grade 2. Schryer expects to see "a bump" in the provincial assessment scores next year as a result of that work.

Meanwhile, she hopes to hear more people talking about literacy. The issues that get discussed are often the ones where change occurs, she said.