TORONTO – Ontario elementary students will be taught a new math curriculum starting in September that incorporates learning to code, expanded learning on financial literacy, and a return to memorizing multiplication tables.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the new curriculum Tuesday and defended rolling it out in the middle of a pandemic, which will likely see students juggle both modified in-class learning and online lessons next year.
“I would argue from a competitive landscape we must take action immediately to improve math scores,” he said.
“I appreciate the broader challenge around us, but we must move forward with these necessary reforms to give hope to these students that when they graduate they can aspire to get a good paying job…If we get this right today we can literally change the course of the workforce.”
Lecce has blamed a decline in standardized testing scores on the former Liberal government’s curriculum, which focused on problem-solving that grounds math in its application.
The new curriculum is part of a $200-million math strategy with a “back to basics” approach.
“We’re focusing on fundamental math concepts and skills like learning and recalling math facts including multiplication,” Lecce said.
“Yes, parents, that means memorizing times tables is back for our kids.”
Premier Doug Ford said it is Ontario’s first new elementary math curriculum in 15 years and will teach saving and spending from Grade 4, how to budget starting in Grade 5, and financial planning starting in Grade 6.
“These are everyday skills needed for lifelong success and that’s something every parent wants for their children,” he said.
“Starting in September, parents can look forward to a math curriculum that not only goes back to basics, but equips our next generation of leaders and community builders with the math skills they need to build a brighter future for all of us.”
Ford announced that standardized EQAO tests will be cancelled for Grades 3 to 6 in the upcoming school year.
The new curriculum includes financial literacy taught across all grades for the first time, teaching coding starting in Grade 1, and personal budgeting.
Officials say there will be 465 expectations students will have to meet over the course of the curriculum, which is fewer than in the previous curriculum, having removed areas such as temperature that are covered in other subjects.
They say students will also now only get one overall mark for math instead of separate marks for each strand.