Ontario to revise Grade 9 math curriculum
Nearly three-quarters of students failed to meet provincial standards; minister blames 'system' for poor results
Canadian Press, November 25, 2004
Ontario is revising its Grade 9 applied math curriculum after nearly three-quarters of students failed to
meet provincial standards, the education minister said today as he blamed the system for dismal results.
Gerard Kennedy said there' s no justification for about 37,000 applied math students to fail and said the program will change by the next school year.
This is not a true reflection of the potential that these students have, Kennedy said of the roughly 50,000 teens in the stream.
There is a revision being discussed now. We believe it is possible to deliver substantially the content of the course in a way that will allow students of different abilities to succeed.
Kennedy denied that the Liberal plan would dumb down the tough four-year curriculum brought in five years ago under the previous Conservative government when it phased out Grade 13.
More students will learn more math under the program we have, he said. We' re bringing the curriculum to the right level that students can do and that students can do still at a degree of difficulty.
The province's Education Quality and Accountability Office reported today that only 26 per cent of Grade 9 students in the applied stream performed at the provincial standard, but that was still five per cent better than last year. About 37 per cent were close to the standard.
Overall, Grade 9 students slightly improved on standardized math tests, administered to more than 150,000 students in the applied and academic streams last winter and spring.
Sixty-eight per cent of those in the academic stream performed at or above the standard up two per cent over last year, the agency said.
Students in both streams showed difficulty identifying the important elements of problems and understanding their relationships to each other, the agency said. Students also struggled to provide correct answers supported with evidence.
Kennedy said that some struggling students can turn to alternate math courses developed by various school boards that would count as credit for Grade 9 and 10, allowing students to continue on to Grade 11.
The group appears to be particularly vulnerable to being left behind; much of the province' s staggering 30 per cent dropout rate has been traced to the inability of Grade 9 and 10 students to secure the required credits.
Parent group People for Education complained that the Liberal government has not done enough to address a difficult curriculum that has caused kids to founder for years. When introduced in 2000, only 13 per cent of students in the applied math stream made the grade.
Spokeswoman Annie Kidder said the Liberals promised last year to help students, but did nothing.
We' ve known so clearly that there' s a problem here, for so many years, said Kidder, calling for immediate help through free tutoring.
We are failing students here in a very big way.
The EQAO said students who speak English as a second language and those with special needs fared poorer than others, but also showed improvement over last year.
There were no significant gaps in performance between boys and girls.
The testing office singled out two schools for making major improvements in their test results: College Heights Secondary School in Guelph and St. Michael High School in Kemptville.