Ontario Unveils Elementary Math Update

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“I would say from a competitive landscape, we must take immediate action to improve math scores,” Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, seen by June 9, 2020, said Tuesday.

Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press

Elementary Ontario students will learn how to start code in Category 1, add Grade 5 fractions and complete financial planning for Grade 6. They will need the number to recall facts, and return to memorizing the multiplication tables up to 12 times 12.

The province on Tuesday launched a new math program for the coming fall, as standardized scores have stagnated or fallen, and educators and parents have debated how the subject is taught in classrooms.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce defended the release of a new curriculum in the midst of a pandemic. It’s hard to know what school will look like in the fall for the province of two million students, and that they are returning to a model that combines classroom training with distance learning.

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“I would say from a competitive landscape, we need to take action immediately to improve math scores,” Mr. Lecce said Tuesday, adding, “I appreciate the more general challenge around us, but we we must move forward with these necessary reforms to give hope to those students who, once they graduate, can aspire to a good, more profitable job. ”

The province also said that it was the cancellation of standardized tests in reading, writing and math for students in grades 3 and 6 for the coming school year, as the new math curriculum is adopted.

The way children learn math has been a concern in many parts of the country. More and more children in Ontario have struggled to meet the provincial benchmark on standardized tests. In the 2018-19 school year, only 58% of 3rd grade students reached these benchmarks; in grade 6, it was less than half (48%.

Some parents have called provincial governments to take a return to the basic approach to teaching the subject, emphasizing repetition and problem solving in the early years.

Under the new Ontario curriculum, which was the last update 15 years ago, children are expected to know how to start code in category 1. They will start by learning the sequence, and Government officials said that could involve programming a caterpillar to go through a few steps in different directions using the arrows.

The program also includes financial literacy for all grade school students. In 4th grade, for example, students will learn the different payment methods. They will learn about the different ways to transfer money, including e-transfer, at Grade 5, and financial planning in Grade 6.

Grade 5 students are expected to learn how to add fractions, as opposed to Grade 7 in the previous program. A ministry official said the students struggled with fractions and needed more time to understand them.

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The government has said the new program will be mandatory for the coming school year, and teachers will receive resources and training this month.

However, some have questioned the deployment schedule.

Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers ’Federation of Ontario, said members have no objection to program improvements. But he argued that it should not be rushed into schools at a time when educators will be helping students with learning gaps as a result of schools closed since mid-March.

“Deploying a new program takes time. Given the significant changes to the math curriculum, and the fact that Ontario is still in the midst of a pandemic, successful implementation will require more than two months from the timeline the ministry has put in, ”M. Hammond said.

Ontario’s NDP in critical education Marit Stiles called “irresponsible” to mandate a new curriculum as educators and students are focused on going back to school. “Adding new requirements to this point is setting up students to fail,” she said.

The government announced last fall that it plans to invest $ 200 million over four years on a math strategy that has included professional development for teachers as well as coaches and online course programs for students. (The money is a continuation of funding from the previous Liberal government.) She also launched a math proficiency test for future teachers and promised to launch a new curriculum.

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Prime Minister Doug Ford campaigned on the promise that if elected he would change the curriculum so that students focus on learning basic arithmetic, rather than what his government has called “Discovering mathematics”, which focuses on a group of problem solving and expressing ideas through different techniques.

He said Tuesday that the new program “is getting back to basics”, but also “teaming our next generation of community leaders and builders.”

Mary Reid, an assistant professor of mathematics education at the University of Toronto, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), said changes and additions to the math curriculum are welcome. Again, Prof. Reid expressed concern about the release of a new curriculum during a time of anxiety for teachers and students.

“So far he’s been good” Prof. Reid said the document. “Timing wise is bad. The working districts so difficult to understand what will happen in September. The last thing they need is a new initiative. ”

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