Ontario’s declining test scores

Peter Goffin of the Canadian Press reported that the latest results for Ontario’s standardized tests have identified a lack of improvement in math scores for the past several years. In fact, the results from the 2016-2017 academic year show that only half of grade 6 students were able to score at, or above, the provincial standard. This is a decline of seven percentage points from 2013.

Unfortunately the situation is not much better for high school students. This year, only 44% of grade 9 students in the applied stream – which focuses on practical concepts – met provincial standards. This is a drop of one percentage point from last year. Furthermore, results for students in the academic stream – which deals with the application of abstract comments – remained stagnant with 83% meeting standards.

In an effort to improve scores and the overall success of students, the Ministry of Education has given the Ontario focused intervention partnership $8 million dollars for the next school year. This program will be dedicated providing homework clubs, tutoring, and other activities to children in kindergarten through grade 6. It is their hope that this will help to increase literacy and mathematics skills.

Is tutoring the solution?

Despite the Ministry of Education implementing new initiatives to bring up test scores, many parents are signing their children up for private math tutoring programs.

The companies that provide these services don’t only teach math concepts. They also reinforce and build strong learning skills. These can include note taking techniques, study tactics, and overall confidence. The services are especially helpful for parents who feel that the traditional classroom method may not be appropriate for their child’s particular learning style. Other parents find that their children enjoy learning math more through tutoring and understand materials better when they learn at their own pace.

However, some experts say that while these tutoring programs can be beneficial to participants, many parents cannot afford to enroll their children in out-of-class lessons. Additionally, there are now more children in low income neighborhoods that are enrolling in applied math classes, widening the achievement gap. In response to these trends, the government is setting up more aid programs. As well, low cost math tutoring options are becoming more readily available,  working to narrow this gap and help all students learn and succeed.

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This post was written by Rebecca Vermette