The Waterloo Region District School Board is unable to explain why grade nine EQAO math results show students performing adequately, while elementary students are struggling with the curriculum.

According to results released Wednesday, 84 per cent of Waterloo Region's grade nine academic math students met or exceeded the provincial standard. That's in line with the provincial average.

But in grades three and six, fewer students are making the cut. Only 59 per cent of grade three students meet the standard and in grade six that number drops further to 53 per cent. 

"We continue to take a look at our primary and junior scores and deconstruct them, in order to try and uncover the mysteries  about why we're having challenges in terms of improving instruction in mathematics," said Elaine Ranney, Superintendent of Education for the WRDSB.

Ranney says the disconnect between elementary and high school math results isn't limited to Waterloo Region but is affecting school boards throughout the province. 

"We're not unique in that," Ranney said. 

Donna Kostopolous, the associate dean of education at Wilfrid Laurier University, says the difference in the score can be attributed to the skill level of teachers. 

"In grade nine academic [math], you are very likely to get somebody with teaching qualifications in mathematics," said Kostopolous, adding that's less likely in elementary schools. 

"If you are the parent, is it good enough for you to know that the person teaching your child grade seven or eight mathematics has no formal education in mathematics?" Kostopolous said. "I think we could be doing a whole lot better if the quality of teaching shifts." 

The more important metric to consider when evaluating EQAO results for Waterloo Region is how many students rose to the standard as they made their way through the school system, says Kostopolous. 

Only eight per cent of students province-wide who failed to meet the provincial standard in grade three in the past school year made it in grade six.