The New and Improved Math Strategy
Standardized math test scores show that math performance has been declining while reading results improve among elementary school students in Ontario.
According to the EQAO (Education Quality & Accountability office), grade 3 and grade 6, math results declined by four and seven percentage points respectively between school years 2009/2010 to 2013/2014.
These developments are what inspired the formulation of a renewed math strategy by the Ontario Ministry of Education. According to the Education Minister, Mitzie Hunter, the Ministry has been focusing on literacy since early 2000, and there has been a significant improvement in literacy. EQAO report shows declining math performance and Ontario's Renewed Math Strategy address this issue.
Ontario's Renewed Math Strategy
Early 2016, the Ontario Ministry of Education announced a $60 million plan to boost math performance by including 60 minutes of math learning time per day in the curriculum for Grade 1 to Grade 8 students.
The new plan also saw the ministry assign up to three math lead teachers in all elementary schools and a special day dedicated for math i.e. the mathematics professional development day.
There is also free online math tutoring, for students in grades 7 to 10, with a certified Ontario teacher.
Ontario’s Renewed Math Strategy is based on the latest research, as well as lessons learned, on effective math teaching, learning, and assessment. The strategy provides newer forms of support to every school.
Support for All Schools
All schools are required to implement a play-based model with math learning combined with play. Elementary schools ensure there is classroom time for math teaching and learning. Principals and teachers receive learning on the latest methods to teach math.
Schools with the greatest needs in regards to EQAO math achievement scores will get the most support.
Key elements of the Renewed Math Strategy are being introduced in September 2016.
They include the following;
1. Sixty minutes of protected math learning time per day for students in Grade 1 to 8. The ministry is working alongside its education partners to make resources available for use during this learning time.
2. Up to three lead math teachers have been assigned to all elementary schools to deepen math knowledge.
3. Parent resources are providing, like the Parents' Guide to Doing Math with Your Child: Kindergarten to Grade 6 and Mathies: Resources to Parents and Students
4. Online access to mathematics resources like Homework Help, offering free tutoring from Ontario certified teachers.
5. Continued support for grade 6 - 9 students who haven’t achieved the provincial standard in math. Such students are receiving support i.e. through tutoring and credit-bearing ''Reach Ahead'' opportunities to allow them to be ready for secondary school.
6. Focused support for Learning for All (formerly special needs) students
7. More professional learning opportunities for educators and principals aimed at helping them deepen their math teaching and learning knowledge. The ministry has increased support for such opportunities mostly for schools with low math achievement i.e. availing dedicated math facilitators for schools with the greatest math achievement needs.
8. A dedicated day for math that supports a wholesome approach towards math improvement.
While Ontario’s math performance is better compared to other provinces and countries globally, changes need to be made to increase performance. The Renewed Math Strategy combines the latest research and the lessons Ontario has learned improving literacy and apply this knowledge to turning around the math program.