Nova Scotia

Shelburne students upset with inconsistent teaching

Some Grade 12 math students at Shelburne Regional High School say they were unprepared for the provincial exam after going through seven math teachers in one semester.

Math class goes through 7 teachers in 1 semester

Rosalyn Fillmore said she didn't feel she was taught the material she needed to pass the provincial math exam. (CBC)

Some Grade 12 math students at Shelburne Regional High School say they were unprepared for the provincial exam after going through seven math teachers in one semester.

Rosalyn Fillmore said she didn't feel she was taught the material she needed to pass the provincial exam a few weeks ago.

"I was completely blank. Half the stuff on the exam I've never seen at all," she told CBC News.

Fillmore said over the course of one semester, she counted seven different math teachers.

All but one Grade 12 math student at the school ended up failing the provincial exam and the average class mark for the exam was 24 per cent.

Monique Fillmore, Rosalyn's mother, said her daughter started complaining a couple of months into the semester that she wasn't learning in the math class.

"She said, 'This teacher is just unable to teach us. We just aren't learning anything,'" she said.

Fillmore contacted the Tri-County Regional School Board, who assured her a new teacher would be brought in to teach the Grade 12 math students what they needed to know.

"We let it go a little bit, a new teacher came in. Roselyn was so excited, she'd learned more math in one day than she had five weeks prior. And she said, 'It's going to be OK, math is going to be great," Fillmore recounted.

"Then lobster season started. Apparently the teacher goes lobstering, so he was not there for the next four or five weeks. So they had different teachers in — seven different teachers over the term."

Lisa Doucet, the superintendent of the Tri-County Regional School Board, said students were taught the material for the provincial exam.

"From our discussions with the school and the school principal our information tells us that the students would have been taught the outcomes for the Grade 12 math course," she told CBC News.

Monique Fillmore said as far as she knew, none of the students were ready for the provincial exam. She asked for the test to be postponed, but was told that wasn't possible.

The students were offered remediation courses on the weekends.

"If the kids wanted to learn math, they had to do it after school, they weren't being taught in school," said Fillmore.

"Not all kids can go to after-school programs and weekends. We live out of town, kids work.… They shouldn't have to go after school to get their math."

Students still passed math course

Trevor Cunningham, the director of programs and student services at the Tri-County Regional School Board, said the board became aware of the situation in November.

He said a math consultant was brought in to help the students.

"Certainly there were concerns, we address those certainly in an appropriate manner. The Department of Education was contacted, we contacted universities looking for qualified mathematics teachers," Cunningham told CBC News.

All but one Grade 12 math student at Shelburne Regional High School failed the provincial exam. (CBC)

"We also convened several meetings with the principal, vice-principal and mathematics consultant for the board to see a way forward, the best way forward so we did take the situation very, very seriously."

Cunningham said the school board has a teacher in place to teach the Grade 12 math course this semester and is looking to hire someone full time.

To the Fillmore family's surprise, most of the students passed the Grade 12 math course despite failing the provincial exam.

"I don't know where the marks came from at all," said Rosalyn Fillmore, who had a mark of 67 per cent going into the exam.

Her mark for the exam was 15 per cent.

Devin Gregory, who was also in the class, said he plans to attend Dalhousie University in the fall but feels his options are limited.

"I won't be able to take any math courses in university because the stuff I was supposed to learn in the Math 12 courses, I don't know," he said.

Monique Fillmore said marks aside, she's not impressed with how the board handled the situation.

"The school board is paying teachers to be there to teach and they're not there. It's like the kids are falling through holes in the system," she said.

"They've been so concerned and so frustrated. Every student up there is so very frustrated just because of math and it reflects on the rest of their schooling."

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