Math, literacy central for northern B.C. school district

As schools ready to open, it needs to be back to the basics for Coast Mountains School District

With school starting up in the next few weeks, dozens of teachers are preparing for something of a fresh start with their students.

And while teachers continue adapting the new curriculum, the key will be placing math and literacy at the front and centre of school focus.

Statistics for how well students have been doing in reading, writing and mathematics in the north have been pretty bleak in the Coast Mountains School District.

In tests called Foundation Skills Assessments (FSAs), the most recent data from two years ago shows that in reading, 23 per cent of Grade 4 students were not meeting expectations, and 39 per cent of Grade 7 students were not meeting expectations in this district.

Writing abilities were about the same, and math was worse, with 32 per cent not meeting expectations in Grade 4 and a shameful 56 per cent not meeting expectations in Grade 7.

Now schools need some credit, because those numbers have been improving over the last five years, but to have close to a quarter of the students not learning what they need is unacceptable.

Of course, there are dozens of factors at play in student learning including home life and ultimately students themselves.

And engaging students is the central focus of the new B.C. curriculum, still being integrated into schools, which is certainly a need in this day and age.

But let’s hope schools don’t overemphasize engaging students in a way that negates the need for students to put in hard work.

One of the best motivators for students is simply catching a glimpse of the great rewards of reading, and the benefits of being able to quickly compute math in our heads.

Reading opens up a world of knowledge, and being able to quickly calculate math helps in stores, cooking with recipes, or building something.

Those benefits can give a real motivation to engage students in their school work.

Teachers deserve a lot of respect, and encouragement as they seek to equip our future generations. It’s no small task.