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Elementary school students will get 1 hour of mandatory math a day in September: province

The Ontario government is promising $60 million toward improving math education for elementary school students, a move that includes a new mandatory one-hour minimum of math each day.

Liz Sandals promises $60M to help students across Ontario get better math results

EQAO testing scores for Grade 3 students and Grade 6 students went down four and seven per cent between testings in 2009 and 2013. (Robert MacPherson/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ontario government is promising $60 million toward improving math education for elementary school students, a move that includes a new mandatory minimum of an hour of math class each day.

Education Minister Liz Sandals announced the plan for a "renewed math strategy" at a downtown Toronto elementary school Monday morning.

The 60-minute math minimum will apply to students in Grades 1 through to Grade 8 and is one of several new initiatives the province is promising.

Others include having up to three math lead teachers at all elementary schools, math support for students in Grade 6 through Grade 9 outside the school day and more opportunities for teachers to improve their math teaching skills through a dedicated math P.A. day.

Sandals says the renewed strategy is based on the latest research available and the province's previous efforts to improve literacy. 

"While Ontario's math results are quite good compared to other jurisdictions, we know that we have more to do," said Sandals in a news release following the announcement.

Mathematics professor and educator John Mighton hopes that the increased funding and time in the classroom doesn't just go towards the same old teaching methods. 
Mathematician and educator John Mighton hopes the increased classroom time and funding for math instruction will be spent wisely.

The founder of the international numeracy program JUMP Math and adjunct professor at the University of Toronto says newer, innovative teaching methods based on emerging research will help students improve at math. 

"Districts, school boards and ministries have to start turning to that evidence and making sure what we're doing is aligned with very solid research," Mighton said in an interview.

"There's been a push towards discovery, to have kids figure things out and discover things, and that's a very positive thing. But the research is suggesting you need to balance that with a lot more guidance, practice."

In a 2012 study, Ontario students performed at the Canadian average in math, but EQAO testing scores for Grade 3 students and Grade 6 students went down four and seven per cent between testings in 2009 and 2013.

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