Ontario Education Minister Mitzie Hunter said she believes the province’s renewed strategy on mathematics will help ease the drastic decline in standardized test scores among primary and junior school students.
“Since the 2000s, we’ve been focusing on our literacy and we’ve seen the strategy for literacy really improve. We’re now ready to do the same for math,” Hunter told reporters on Wednesday morning.
“We have to have a balance and our curriculum focuses on that. It focuses on problem solving. It also focuses on the practice. It focuses on direct instruction and the assessment.”
Earlier this year, the province announced a $60-million plan that puts an average of 60 minutes per day of “protected math learning time” in the curriculum for Grades 1 through 8.
It also designates up to three “math lead teachers” in all elementary schools and a dedicated math professional development day.
The new measures come as standardized math test scores continue to decline in Ontario. Results for elementary school students released on Wednesday by the province’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) show that while reading results are improving, math results are getting worse.
Nearly 50 per cent of all Grade 6 students in Ontario did not meet the provincial math standard this year, compared to 58 per cent in 2012.
The Grade 3 math results showed a decline too, with 63 per cent of students meeting the provincial standard, compared to 68 per cent in 2012.
“This is very urgent. I believe that is why we have a priority and a focus on the math strategies starting this month at the beginning of the school year,” Hunter said. “I know all of our schools across Ontario are prepared to tackle this challenge.”
In addition to expanding the time allotted for math studies inside the classroom, the province said it has also increased support for real-time online math tutoring for students in Grade 7 to 10.
“Learning together at home and outside of the classroom has immeasurable benefits on childhood development,” Hunter explained.
The EQAO report said the lack of progress in math achievement is an indicator that more needs to be done to improve programs and teaching strategies at the elementary school level.
Read the scores for each Ontario school board below.
-With a file from The Canadian Press