OP-ED: Student achievement and well-being a priority

Becky Druhan, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. (Submitted photo).

The following is an Op-Ed from Becky Druhan, Education and Early Childhood Development Minister.

How are our kids doing in school? This is the fundamental question all parents and caregivers have and one I ask of our staff and educators regularly.

Nova Scotia children are bright, creative and eager to learn. Our educators are some of the best in the world and care for their students. In my role as Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development, I see a system that is dedicated to the success and well-being of our students.

But we can always do better.

Student achievement and well-being are connected. How students experience and build relationships with their peers, teachers and other staff is as important as what they learn in the classroom.

This is why we assess data from both provincial examinations and assessments as well as Nova Scotia’s Student Success Survey to help us understand how students are doing now and to help us chart a path to an even better future.

Nova Scotians can see the results of the latest provincial examinations and assessments online. Like other jurisdictions, the results from the last year confirm Nova Scotia students were impacted by COVID-19.

The latest public school assessment results are posted at: https://plans.ednet.ns.ca/results .

So, what are we doing to ensure ongoing success? Working in partnership with educators, there are many new and ongoing initiatives that will help our students to be the best they can be.

This work is designed to boost student achievement and well-being, address long-standing barriers that impact achievement, including those experienced by Mi’kmaq and students of African descent, and address the unique challenges caused by the learning interruptions during the last three years.

Here are some examples:
— a new approach to literacy, especially in grades primary to 2, with a greater focus on phonics and phonological awareness; this approach was introduced this year, with full implementation in September 2024
— an enhanced focus on reading and writing, including a better balance of non-fiction and fiction
— software to support student learning in mathematics, reading and writing
— a new physical activity framework in September 2023
— continued investment in supports under our Inclusive Education Policy
— ongoing support for treaty education
— new professional learning opportunities for teachers areas like mental health and Mi’kmaq Ways of Being and Knowing
— expanded learning opportunities in skilled trades and other subjects, including environmental studies (through a new program for Grade 12 students rooted in the Mi’kmaw guiding principle of Etuaptmumk, which encourages the use of both Mi’kmaw knowledge and western science for richness of understanding).

Overall, Nova Scotia has had a strong record in student achievement, and we know we can overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19’s learning disruptions.

As a parent, I want my children to be their best selves. As Minister, I want success and fulfillment for all children in our province.

Together, we can build the best possible education system for Nova Scotians. I am committed to leading this work with all our partners who are just as committed and passionate about the success of our children.

Becky Druhan, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.