Message from the Minister and
I am pleased to present the Ministry of Education's 2005/06 to 2007/08 Service Plan. This plan builds on the government's work to improve student achievement in British Columbia's schools and fulfill the Premier's commitment to make B.C. the most literate location in North America by 2010. Priorities for this year will include literacy, student health and physical activity, and making schools the centre of the community.
Student achievement continues to improve across British Columbia, thanks to the efforts of students, parents, teachers, principals, administrators and school boards. The three main measures of student achievement are completion rates, provincial exams and the Foundation Skills Assessment. All three measures show improved results over the last year.
School completion rates are at record levels, including the percentage of Aboriginal students completing school last year. Students also scored higher on a majority of provincial examinations. On FSA, all students in Grades 4 and 7 — boys, girls, ESL and Aboriginal students — scored higher in reading compared to the year before.
Improving literacy will remain a key objective of the Ministry of Education. To ensure that literacy rates continue to improve, the government has invested more than $20 million in initiatives and resources for parents, students and educators, including $5 million to support innovative literacy teaching practices. These new programs and tools will focus on the youngest learners to give them a solid foundation in reading, writing and math, and will support older learners as they continue in school.
The government is committed to continuing to bring out the best in every student by helping students get ready for school. The Ready, Set, Learn program will help parents prepare their children for Kindergarten so they have the best possible chance for a great education. The program will also support government's plan to provide each B.C. child with comprehensive diagnostic hearing, sight and dental testing, as well as necessary intervention and treatment before Grade 1. We know that when young children get a good start in school, they get a good start in life.
The Ministry of Education's number one priority is to make sure that all students can achieve their best. Research shows that active students are not only healthier, but they do better in school. This year, the ministry will initiate a healthy schools plan to ensure our students are healthier and more physically active. Under the plan, the Ministry will work with school boards, health professionals and vending machine companies to eliminate junk food from our schools over the next four years. The Ministry will also join with the Ministry of Health Services to expand the Action Schools! BC to schools throughout the province.
Last year, all schools in seismic risk zones in British Columbia were assessed. This year, we will commence a 15-year plan, at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion, to complete seismic upgrades to all schools at risk in an earthquake. We will also continue our three-year capital plans for maintenance, renovation and replacement of existing schools and construction of new schools to ensure students in British Columbia have appropriate learning environments. The Ministry of Education will also be working with school boards to examine ways to make schools the centre of their communities, including a review of under-utilized school facilities that could be used as daycare centres, seniors' centres or parent centres.
We are fortunate in British Columbia to have one of the best public education systems in the world. According to the most recent international assessment, B.C. students are among the best in the world in math, science and reading. To continue to meet the needs of students in a world that changes quickly, we must always strive to improve. This service plan sets out our goals and performance measures to support the further development of British Columbia's top-notch education system and ensures that our students have tools to succeed — both in and out of school.
As the Minister responsible, the 2005/06–2007/08 Service Plan for the Ministry of Education was prepared under my direction, in accordance with the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act. I am accountable for the basis on which the plan has been prepared. All material fiscal assumptions and policy decisions as of January 31, 2005 have been considered in preparing the plan and I am accountable for achieving the specific objectives in the plan.
Honourable Tom Christensen
Minister of Education
February 15, 2005