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YCS puts new focus on math

Catholic schools hire math and sciences coach

Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Apr 19/02) - St. Patrick high school principal Johnnie Bowden is sticking by his math and science teachers, saying they are perfectly comfortable and adept with the curriculum they teach.

"I don't hear teachers crying for help," he said, responding to a news segment on a local radio station. "I feel that the reports I was hearing (Wednesday) were blowing the situation out of proportion."

The Yellowknife Catholic Schools (YCS) board has hired a math and sciences coach to work with teachers and students in all grades of the Catholic schools next year.

The hiring of Liliane Gauthier comes five months after St. Patrick high school announced a series of disappointing diploma exam results in math and sciences.

The board announced it had hired Gauthier at its public budget meeting Tuesday.

Bowden said although the diploma exams results may have factored into the new position, "I think it's probably a response to what is regarded as a systemic concern."

YCS board chair Larry Purcka said the coach would help students competing against other jurisdictions for university admissions.

"We do want to see our students do as best as they can in that subject area," he said.

Grade 12 students write the diploma exams every year. Last year, 3.6 per cent of St. Pat's students in physics 30 topped 80 per cent on their final mark, while 31.3 per cent of Sir John Franklin students bested 80 per cent.

YCS superintendent Kern von Hagen said hiring a math and sciences coach allows the board to evaluate instruction in all grade levels. Problems on diploma exams are a reflection of the entire system, not simply education in Grade 12, he said.

Once improvements are noted, the maths and sciences coach could be rotated out in favour of a coach for another subject area, von Hagen said.

Gauthier will initiate a program review of the maths and sciences. She has experience doing almost identical work in her current job as a provincial consultant with the Saskatchewan Learning's department of official languages.

"What I'd really like to do is work in the classroom with teachers, identify their needs and see where I can best be of support for them," she said.