Opinions on the Ontario Math Curriculum, Falling Test Scores, and Experts’ advice

There is increasing criticism on the fairly-new Ontario math curriculum which focuses on teaching through discovery-based learning and delaying arithmetic to later years.

We compiled a list of News Articles with Summaries highlighting the differing opinions on the curriculum by parents, teachers, and math and education experts from local to international news. Let’s hear what the experts have to say!

News Article Summaries

Article 1: Ontario’s math system is broken. So why isn’t the government fixing it?

  • EQAO 2015/2016 math results should give parents reason to worry. The math standard for the Grade 3 division fell from 68% to 63% and is worse for the Grade 6 students, where only 50% met the provincial standard.
  • This isn’t new News. Parents and mathematicians have been calling for change since 2011.
  • Experts say the policy changes are to blame because the discovery-based learning is confusing.
  • There is a misconception that basic skills and deliberate practice interfere with understanding math.

Article 2: Ontario’s math scores are declining as kids took the new curriculum, according to EQAO data

  • Math education experts blame the curriculum, provincial ministry and lack of parents’ involvement.
  • ½ of Ontario Grade 6 students failed to meet provincial standards
  • The Discovery-math trend has spread across the country and teachers are unfairly blamed.
  • Quote: “We have a very good tradition in North America of reading to our kids at home but how many of us do math with our kids at home?”. Math phobia exists in parents and spreads to our kids.
  • The solution is to do both memorization and mastering basics while decreasing discovery math.

Article 3: Local families see hope in math despite tumbling scores

  • Math scores are plummeting as students scores much lower than the Ontario average.
  • Math needs to be talked about in Kitchener-Waterloo.
  • Controversy with the new Discovery-Based curriculum.

Article 4:  Half of Grade 6 students in Ontario failed to meet provincial math standard

  • There has been a continuous decline in math test scores over the past seven years.
  • Math educators are divided. They are debating whether students benefit more from traditional methods, e.g. rote learning, or a mere discovery-based problem-solving approach.

Article 5: No, teaching math the old-fashioned way won’t work

  • “If you fall behind in math you stay behind.” This is why is it crucial for children to have a strong foundation in math.
  • Parents blame the new curriculum of discovery based learning, claiming it’s weird and the old method is better.
  • “In math, you can’t have a rule for everything. Modern curricula recognize and try to teach flexibility”
  • What to do?
    • Ontario should support teachers by sharing best teaching practices.
    • Support students by giving more practice time.

Article 6: Frustrated professors convince elementary schools to step back from ‘new math’ and go ‘back to basics’

  • “Manitoba is rolling out a revised curriculum for elementary schools that explicitly require students to learn times tables, math ‘facts’ and standard algorithms.” The province is taking a step back from discovery-based learning and are explicitly using standard algorithms.
  • Not going totally back to old method but to create a basic foundation at an early age
  • “Don’t neglect one side in favour of another.”

Article 7: Possible reasons math scores are dropping in the US

  • Children’s math scores have been declining since 2009. Possible reasons:
    • “A school structure that doesn’t work with changing family life”
    • “Psychotropic medication inhibits cognitive function”
    • “Lack of nutrition”

Article 8: US STEM education market declines China invests heavily

  • US recent political changes are compromising STEM education despite the US being the largest producer of STEM goods & services.
  • However, the global education market is thriving as European and Asian students rank highest in STEM subjects.
  • “Preparing today’s youth for dawning autonomous revolution is the only method for equipping the future workforce to manage the innovation that will encompass industry. And STEM-focused programs and products best cultivate the skills necessary for our children to compete against international markets.”

At Crania Schools, we have a balanced approach. In our blended learning environment, students are allowed to gain a deep understanding of mathematical concepts while mastering basic math facts.

Learn how Crania Schools and our 7-step curriculum can help your child get the benefits of a balanced approach to math education.

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