No help for struggling students in Iqaluit schools

62 per cent of tenth graders below grade level



Thirteen per cent of Iqaluit children show up at kindergarten without the basic skills that five-year-olds are expected to learn before formal education begins.

In Grade 1, 22 per cent of students are found to be below the level of skills they should have by Grade 1. In Grade 2, that number goes up to 28 per cent. By Grades 4 and 5, the percentages are in the thirties.

The number of students working below their grade level peaks at Grade 10, where 62 per cent of Iqaluit students do not have the basic skills expected in that grade.

These are just some of the numbers that the Iqaluit District Education Authority compiled in a new report on students at risk of dropping out of school.

“We have serious gaps in the number of programs we offer to kids struggling in school,” said IDEA member Katherine Trumper, as she presented preliminary findings to the IDEA at their Monday night meeting.

The IDEA gathered the information with the help of program support teachers working in Iqaluit schools. Program support teachers use informal methods to assess whether students are working at, above, or below their grade level. They’re also the people who spend extra time with students who fall behind.

A second part of the research investigates the numbers of students who require remedial literacy or math.

For example, 13 Grade 4 students in Iqaluit are receiving remedial math instruction, but 15 students who also need remedial math instruction are not getting it.

“I don’t think the research is telling us anything the program support teachers don’t already know,” Trumper said.

The goal of the research is to prove statistically that more resources are needed to help students at risk.

“This data… is not collected by the Department of Education,” Trumper said.

Right now, there are no core-funded programs for students who need extra help in Nunavut’s schools, except for program support teachers and counselors who help these students.

Trumper told the IDEA that she had reviewed the Department of Education’s most recent budget, and followed the debates during that department’s budget approval.

“I have not seen any additional resources for struggling students,” Trumper said. “It’s the [Federation of Nunavut Teachers] contract and Income Support that are driving the education budget up. It’s not school operations.”

The IDEA decided to make students-at-risk one of its priorities last year.

“Struggling students need help in every way they can,” said IDEA member Jeannie Eeseemailie. “Some of them want to graduate.”

The IDEA will start distributing the document, called A status report on students at risk in Iqaluit schools, this week.

English copies will be available at the IDEA office at Nakasuk Schools, and copies will be posted in Inuktitut and English on the IDEA website,, sometime in April.

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