Ontario’s education system is getting a failing grade when it comes to math. Students’ scores in the subject are dropping, raising concerns among educators, and as students complete another round of standardized EQAO testing this week, some people are calling for a review of the current math curriculum.
This week and next a variety of subjects will be evaluated, including math. While it can be stressful, students at St. Martin of Tours in Stoney Creek say they are well prepared.
“Since the beginning of the year he told us there’s going to be an EQAO test at the end of the year. We all got practice booklets and we’ve been practicing every day,” said one student.
“I felt more confident because we practiced it at the beginning of year instead of like in grade three we did it closer to the end so we didn’t have much time to practice,” said another.
While students at this school have seen improvement in their math grades, it’s not the norm. Across the province and the country, scores are on the steady decline.
Results from the most recent EQAO testing are not good for the Hamilton-Wentworth area. For the Catholic District School Board, 54% of its grade six students performed at or above the provincial average. For the Public District School Board it was lower, with less than half meeting or exceeding the provincial average.
Researchers studying the drop in math scores point to a lack of practice and teachers saddled with too many subjects.
“We need to move towards the hiring of teachers who have some degree of subject specialty who are keen and interested in teaching those subjects and who have the expertise to provide the best instruction,” says Joe Engemann, associate professor at Brock University.
One retired teacher says scores are not adding up because the basics are being skipped over. She’s even petitioning for a review of the current curriculum.
“Teachers don’t have resources. They need textbooks which are very inquiry based, so when teachers try to teach the basics, they go to the computer for materials and that’s not the best way,” says Teresa Murray.
Results of the EQAO tests will be released in the fall.