© Guardian photo
Opposition tourism critic James Aylward has the public accounts committee to call both the current and former deputy ministers of tourism, David MacKenzie and Melissa MacEachern, to testify on the auditor’s findings.
Canadian results published of Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
Prince Edward Island students scored last in the country and the province was repeatedly highlighted in the recent PISA results for coming in below the OECD average in all three areas of testing.
“Prince Edward Island was the only province whose score was below the OECD average,” according to the Canadian results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report – an international standardized test of 15-year-olds that takes place every three years.
In all three testing areas of math, reading and science, P.E.I. students came in last in the country and below the average for OECD countries.
Opposition education critic James Aylward said the results are highly concerning and should raise serious alarms with government that more needs to be done for the children of P.E.I.
“We know we have bright kids here on P.E.I., I don’t think they’re being challenged, we don’t have a curriculum that is setting them up to really move forward,” Aylward said.
He pointed to recent cuts to teaching positions and a shortage of school psychologists as additional reasons he believes students are struggling.
Premier Robert Ghiz said he realizes P.E.I.’s results are poor, but listed a number of investments his government has made in early childhood development programs, in bringing kindergarten into the school system and in literacy and numeracy coaches in elementary schools.
He said these investments will help improve future assessment results.
“The investments we’re making I believe will pay benefits in the future,” he said.
“Unfortunately we will not see the fruition for another 10 years most likely."
When asked what would be done in the interim to help the 15-year-olds tested last year for by PISA, Ghiz said he believes targeting the problem areas identified by the PISA results and more professional development (PD) days for teachers is the way to go.
“In all the research we’ve done, the more opportunity you give to the teachers to train and to learn, the better the results are going to be,” Ghiz said.
“I don’t want to discourage parents or students out there, we’re not that far off. But there are investments we can make to improve things in the future.”
Aylward said he hopes this means Island children will not be left with even less classroom time.
He believes government should look at what the provinces that scored well have done to achieve their results and try to emulate this in P.E.I.’s school system.
NDP PEI Leader Mike said he is alarmed by P.E.I.'s scores.
"These poor results prove we need to increase our investment and focus our resources on the kids in the classrooms", Redmond said in a news release issued Tuesday.
"This bad situation is only going to get worse with the cuts to teacher positions that the government is currently implementing.”
The PISA results show P.E.I. students have been steadily declining in math scores for the last six years.
Fewer than one in 10 P.E.I. students were high performing in math and had the highest proportion of low-achievers in this subject in the country.
For both reading and science, Island students again were the only ones in Canada to score below the OECD average.
The report highlighted that P.E.I.’s reading performance decreased since the year 2000 from a score of 517 in that year to 490 in 2012.
The PISA scores are based on testing of 1,288 15-year-olds in P.E.I. last year.