Supplementary funding policy raises literacy skills of B.C.’s Aboriginal students

September 9, 2009

BC government funding to support students who speak a non-standard English dialect has delivered measurable improvements in the reading skills of Aboriginal students.

Researchers at SFU’s Centre for Education Research and Policy (CERP) analyzed reading test score gains of BC Grade 7 students. The more students a school district designated for provincial English as a Second Dialect (ESD) funding support, the more the scores of the average Aboriginal student improved.

In a district receiving funding for 22% of its Aboriginal students (the average ESD designation rate in the period studied), the improvement was equivalent to narrowing the reading achievement gap with non-Aboriginal students by 18%.

Jane Friesen, principal researcher and director of CERP, said: “This provincial funding policy has made a substantial, measurable contribution to closing the reading skills gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. These results demonstrate the importance of sustained funding for classroom instruction.”

The proportion of Aboriginal students in B.C. public schools who were designated for ESD supplementary funding tripled between 1999 and 2004, the period studied.

Go here for an accessible 4-page research briefing, then return to comment and discuss.


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