Declining Public School Math Grades

Last week Ontario’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) revealed this year's disappointing test results: half of grade 6 students failed to meet the provincial math standard. This news comes after a five-year trend in declining math performance. Reasons for this development range from criticizing elementary public school teachers for their own personal lack of understanding on the subject, to students' plummeting confidence about their ability to master math. EQAO results for the last five years also reveal that students falling behind in math in grade 3 only have a 13% chance of catching up by grade 6, indicating that students who fall behind in math continue lagging behind their fellow classmates.

Paul Wells from Star Touch, The Star, argues for two things to solve this looming crisis: educate public school teachers on up-to-date global techniques and concepts for teaching math effectively, and provide more practice time with one-on-one instruction for students to fail enough times in class before exams so that they have time to learn from their mistakes. Becoming proficient at math should be considered as learning new skills; it is not something that can be learned by rote memorization and passively staring at the board for an hour of lecturing. Teachers need to break down concepts into their many parts and explain them all individually. Because as soon as a student fails to understand one concept, they are at risk of misunderstanding the entire unit. Math lessons build upon each other, and without a strong understanding of earlier lessons, a student's foundation will crumble in the higher grades.  

It is times like these that make one realize how important private IB schools are. Because of the small class sizes and international, standardized curriculum, IB teachers are not struggling to help students like public school teachers are. Thanks to small class sizes, they have the time to implement the above techniques to help students succeed, and many private schools have a "no child left behind" policy, like at St. Jude's Academy. Their internationally successful IB program with fine-tuned teaching methods has already "solved the issue" while public administrators are still arguing over how to solve math innumeracy in the province (pun intended). If you are interesting in reading more on this topic, please check out Melissa Chin's post.

To all my readers, have yourselves a fantastic week!

Carrie Nelson


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