Tuesday, August 30, 2011

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GuelphMercury - Math testing reveals deficit in Ontario

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Math testing reveals deficit in Ontario

Math has our attention now.

Yes, the latest Education Quality and Accountability Office test results say Ontario elementary students made big gains in reading and writing the last five years.

But stagnant math results across the province, where no progress has been made with Grade 3 and Grade 6 students in standardized testing, has Waterloo Region education officials concerned.

“The math, certainly in Grade 6, gives us cause for response,” catholic board associate education director Bruce Rodrigues said.

Nothing has changed in a five-year span for Grade 3 and Grade 6 students. They meet the provincial standard at a rate of 69 per cent and 58 per cent respectively.

In Grade 9, the majority of students aren’t meeting the standards for applied math.

“Math would be the area, I think, where we need to focus some energy and attention,” public board executive superintendent Mary Lou Mackie said.

“We have had math goals and math targets. We will continue to have math goals and math targets.”

The testing body says 74 per cent of Grade 6 students who took standardized literacy tests passed this year, up 10 percentage points over the last five years.

In Grade 3, 73 per cent of students now meet writing standards, up nine points.

“We have done a lot of work on the writing side in our board,” Mackie said.

“I think what the results are saying to us now is that we need to shift our focus a little bit and look at ways of focusing perhaps a bit more on the numeracy side of things.”

Rodrigues agrees it’s time to zero in on math scores in standardized testing.

“I think we’ve placed a lot of emphasis on the literacy side of things for the last number of years,” he said. “I wouldn’t say necessarily to the detriment of mathematics, but we need to be far more precise in terms of our focus in math to be able to support students.”

Individual school and board reports won’t be released until Sept. 14, after which those schools and boards will be able to speak publicly about their results.

The Liberal government says the overall provincial figures released Monday show 69 per cent of Grade 3 and 6 students are mastering reading, writing and math skills, up 15 percentage points from 2003.

Mercury news services

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