Hamilton schools are scoring well below average in standardized math testing, according to results released Wednesday.

The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) tests students province-wide in reading, writing and math. Results for primary (Grade 3) and junior (Grade 6) divisions for the 2012-13 school year were released Wednesday.

Both Hamilton school boards scored below average or at par in math testing, with the Catholic school board having a better showing. In grade 3 math, 67 per cent of students are above average mathematicians – that's equal to the provincial average. In grade 6, 54 per cent of students were above average. That's slightly below the Ontario average of 57 per cent.

The public school board scored at 59 per cent in grade 3 and 48 per cent in grade 6 in math, according to the report. Both of those stats are below the provincial average. "We have remained steady and clearly need to improve," said John Malloy, the director of education at the HWDSB. The public board has stayed pat for its scores in math for the last five years, while the province's scores have dropped.

Malloy says a number of factors could contribute to the poor showing — according to a student questionnaire, "not liking math" and "not feeling likely to succeed in math" were the most common responses.

"I am worried that there is a perception that exists in our minds that we can't succeed at math." Malloy did say he is "very proud" of the improvements students have made in reading and writing.

"We're perplexed to say the least with the grade 3 and 6 math scores," said Pat Daly, chair for the Catholic board.

Daly and the rest of the Catholic board plans to strike a committee with current teachers, retired teachers and board members to examine why students are under performing.

"It's a question we've been asking for years," Daly said. "We'd look at the assessment and the curriculum to see if there is a disconnect."

When it comes to reading and writing, the Catholic school board is at par or above the Ontario performance average, and Daly said he's "very pleased" with the numbers. The public school board didn't perform as well.

The charts below show the percentage of students with above average results.

Grade 3

HWDSB

HWCDSB

Ontario

Reading

64

69

68

Writing

73

79

77

Math

59

67

67

Grade 6

HWDSB

HWCDSB

Province

Reading

70

76

77

Writing

69

81

76

Math

48

54

57

Province-wide in both divisions, the percentage of students scoring above average in reading and writing has steadily increased since 2008, the first assessment year. But math scores are the opposite – those numbers have steadily decreased over the years.

In the primary division, province-wide, the average is 67 per cent this past school year. That is a decrease from 2008, when 70 per cent scored above average. In the junior division, that number is 57 per cent this year from 63 per cent in 2008.

In the public school board, 3,372 grade 3 students and 3,533 grade 6 students wrote the test. 1,845 and 1,847 grade 3's wrote the reading and writing and math tests, respectively, in the Catholic school board. 2,015 grade 6 students participated.