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71% of Ontario students meet provincial standards

Nearly three-quarters of Ontario students are meeting or exceeding the provincial standards in reading, writing and math.

Queen’s Park said Wednesday that 71 per cent of Grade 3 and 6 students have met the requirements, according to the latest scores from the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).

“We have to be careful that because we measure those three things, we don’t put all our focus on them,” Annie Kidder, the executive director of People for Education, told CityNews.

“These tests are not the be all and end all that are important in a good strong education, like arts, history, geography, citizenship, health – physical and mental. All of those things go into a broadly-based education.”

The province said its students showed an increase of one per cent over 2011-2012 levels, and a 17 per cent increase over 2002-03 levels.

“We’re pleased with the significant gains in student achievement over the past 10 years, but we know there is still more to do,” Education Minister Liz Sandals said.

She also touched on the recent teachers’ strike, saying it has been a “challenging” year, but “we are thankful for the hard work of students, teachers and parents to close gaps in achievement.”

However, the EQAO – an arms-length government agency that assesses Ontario’s public school students – noted that elementary school math programs are “losing ground,” particularly in Grades 4 to 6.

In a statement, the EQAO said that in each of the last five years, there have been increasing numbers of students who no longer meet the provincial math standard in Grade 6 despite having met it in Grade 3.

This year, almost one in five – 19 per cent – of Grade 6 students fit that description.

“For students, a solid foundation in math is essential to success in today’s world,” EQAO CEO Bruce Rodrigues said in a statement.

“Math is all around us, and as a province and country, we simply must help the next generation excel in math if we’re to deliver on all the promise the 21st century has to offer.”

Kidder concurred.

“Probably the most worrying thing is the math results… We’re going to have to think about why the scores changed,” she said.

“Is there a difference in kids’ or society’s attitudes towards math? Is it hard and not fun and something most people can’t do? Or is it something teachers are having difficulty with? Perhaps their training isn’t math-specific enough.”

On a positive note, students who have a first language other than English or French saw their test scores improve, and the gap between them and other students is narrowing.

The EQAO said 62 per cent of Grade 3 and 68 per cent of Grade 6 English language learners are now meeting the provincial reading standard.

How are your kids doing in school? Share your thoughts in the comments below.