Students in the Halifax Regional School Board are facing very different challenges depending on their grade level, according to a new report.

Superintendent Carole Olsen handed the HRSB its annual report card at a board meeting last night, and said while academic performance seems to be improving, most schools still have a long way to go.

The report focused mainly on math and reading skills. Last year, almost every elementary school in the HRSB reported 80 per cent of its Grade 2 students were “meeting expectations” in the math curriculum, said Olsen. By the time students reached Grade 8, however, only 33 per cent of schools were reporting the same level of achievement.

 

When it came to reading, the trend was the exact opposite — with the lower grades struggling with basic reading skills and higher grades performing much better overall.

“These assessments allow us to see where students are struggling with a particular concept,” Olsen said. “We’ve seen that if we concentrate on that concept in terms of professional development for teachers and resources in the classroom, we can improve those areas.”

Karen Webber, principal at Oyster Pond Academy near Sheet Harbour, said her school is typical of many in the HRSB, and is already making changes to help younger students improve their reading skills.

“Every Wednesday morning, we lasso everybody that’s not tied down in our community — including parents — and we partner as many Grade 1 students with an adult for some one-on-one reading,” she said. “We call it a reading blitz.”

The HRSB report was compiled using extensive data from each of the board’s 137 schools. Olsen was quick to point out it doesn’t take into account improvements already made.

“I’m absolutely confident that in five years time, every school will be improving,” Olsen said.