Both Waterloo school boards saw a decline in students meeting or exceeding the provincial standards in math last year, while by and large maintaining reading and writing proficiency levels.

Those are the results of standardized testing conducted last year by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).

The Catholic board’s superintendent of learning, Maria Ivankovic, said math results were disappointing as numeracy education was a focus last year. Ivankovic said the board would be reviewing teacher content, as well as developing strategies for teaching when “learning breaks down for the students.”

“We are providing a skill builders program. It’s an after-school program for grades three and six students," she said. "In the past, we’ve used this program in literacy and this year we’re going to be trying it in numeracy.”

Superintendent of Education of the Waterloo Region District School Board Elaine Ranney said the board would be examining their approach to math education, based on the province’s plans.

“The ministry has launched a provincial math action plan that was just recently revealed to the boards. We will certainly refine our math strategy to align with the provincial strategy so that we’re able to support efforts,” she said.

The public school board fell below the provincial average of students meeting standards in each category – reading, writing and math – for both grade three and grade six.

'EQAO does not support comparing boards and schools'

“We need to go back to what is the purpose of EQAO results. EQAO conducts the assessments that they do and provide information to boards and schools in order to help them improve student learning," Ranney said when asked about the board's results.

"EQAO does not support comparing boards and schools because it is not helpful in terms of what it is we are trying to do. We are trying to improve student learning.”

For grade three students at public schools:

  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard for math decreased to 59 per cent in 2012-2013 from 62 per cent in 2011-2012. The provincial average for this measure in 2012-2013 was 67 per cent.
  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard for reading was 61 per cent in 2012-2013, which was unchanged from 2011-2012. The provincial average for this measure in 2012-2013 was 68 per cent.
  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard for writing decreased to 68 per cent in 2012-2013 from 69 per cent in 2011-2012. The provincial average for this measure in 2012-2013 was 77 per cent.

For grade six students at public schools:

  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard for math decreased to 53 per cent in 2012-2013 from 55 per cent in 2011-2012. The provincial average for this measure in 2012-2013 was 57 per cent.
  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard for reading increased to 75 per cent in 2012-2013 from 74 per cent in 2011-2012. The provincial average for this measure in 2012-2013 was 77 per cent.
  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard for writing decreased to 72 per cent in 2012-2013 from 73 per cent in 2011-2012. The provincial average on this measure in 2012-2013 was 76 per cent.

The Waterloo District School Board reported an increase in reading achievement for English Language Learners in grades three and six of 13 and 12 percentage points respectively since 2009. The number of students with special education needs taking the test has alsp increased by 16 percentage points in the past five years.

For grade three students at Catholic schools:

  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard for math decreased to 67 per cent in 2012-2013 from 70 per cent in 2011-2012. The provincial average for this measure in 2012-2013 was 67 per cent.
  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard for reading increased to 69 per cent in 2012-2013 from 67 per cent in 2011-2012. The provincial average for this measure in 2012-2013 was 68 per cent.
  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard for writing decreased to 77 per cent in 2012-2013 from 78 per cent in 2011-2012. The provincial average for this measure in 2012-2013 was 77 per cent.

For grade six students at Catholic schools:

  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard for math decreased to 54 per cent in 2012-2013 from 56 per cent in 2011-2012. The provincial average for this measure in 2012-2013 was 57 per cent.
  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard for reading increased to 76 per cent in 2012-2013 from 75 per cent in 2011-2012. The provincial average for this measure in 2012-2013 was 77 per cent.
  • The percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard for writing increased to 75 per cent in 2012-2013 from 71 per cent in 2011-2012. The provincial average for this measure in 2012-2013 was 76 per cent.

Donna Kotsopoulos, a professor of mathematics education at the University of Wilfrid Laurier’s teacher’s college, said very few teachers have training in math beyond grade 11. Would-be teachers get a maximum of 36 hours in math training by an Ontario faculty of education, she added.

“The number one factor of children doing well is the quality of the teaching…across faculties of education in the province, the requirements to have a background in mathematics is not required,” Kotsopoulos said.

“I’m not suggesting an undergrad in mathematics, but no education in mathematics since grade 11 is not an option. Thirty-six hours of instruction in your post-secondary education is not an option either, and the results are bearing that out.”