B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has promised that within five years, every grade-four student will be reading, writing and doing math at their grade level, but teachers say the goal is unlikely to be reached.

To follow through on the promise, the premier announced $8.9 million in funding to help children who are falling behind, promised to expand a program preparing preschoolers for kindergarten and introduce a voluntary early childhood learning assessment.

But those working in the trenches of the education system say that students can't be held to uniform standards.

"Typically in any grade, students are at different levels, because they learn at different rates and different speeds," teacher Karen Alvarez said.

Susan Lambert of the B.C. Teachers' Federation described the grade levels as "meaningless" goals to set for students.

"The idea of a grade standard is kind of an artificial average that we construct. No child is an average. Every child is unique. So, some children will be ahead on some skills and behind on others. It's just a meaningless statement," she said.

Laurie Ford, a professor in the faculty of Education at the University of B.C., welcomes the focus on early learning, but says Campbell is aiming too high.

"To make goals happen with the diversity of population that we have, we need to be attacking this in the schools. We need to be approaching this by family-friendly policies that allow families to support kids getting early starts," she said.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jina You