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‘Students struggling’: Education Minister Stephen Lecce rolls out $200M math strategy

4-year strategy meant to improve status quo, Lecce says
August 29, 2019
Dina Al-Shibeeb

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Aug. 28 details of a four-year, $200-million math strategy "commencing this September".

"As the recently-released EQAO results confirm, our students are still struggling to meet provincial math standards," Lecce said.

"We will never accept the status quo," he said. "We are demanding better for our kids by investing in a landmark multi-year strategy that will, from day one, help our students and educators build the confidence and knowledge to excel in math."

Lecce said the new strategy is to get back to basics and make sure students and educators have the math skills and resources to succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Ontario is rolling out over the next four years a revised math curriculum for students in all grades that will focus on the fundamentals of mathematics and how to apply them, the ministry said in a news release.

Teachers to hone their math skills

These investments include $4 million to subsidize additional qualifications math courses for teachers, the ministry adding math performance leads in the classroom, and expanding online tutoring programs.

Lecce said the ministry must ensure "new teachers entering the profession have the skills to teach math".

The day before Lecce’s announcement, a memo from deputy education minister Nancy Naylor, obtained by The Canadian Press, said that new teachers in Ontario will soon have to pass a math test by scoring at least 70 per cent.

Unions lashed at this, saying these tests will do nothing to improve students' math skills.

"Expecting a kindergarten teacher to have a firm grasp of calculus makes no sense," Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, said in a statement.

"The proposed teacher candidate test will not increase math outcomes. Testing doesn't grow confidence, competency or proficiency."

Lecce didn't tackle whether or not new teachers have to score at least 70 on a math test in his announcement.

The Ministry will also deliver $6 million in support for summer learning programs to prevent learning loss and ensure new teachers entering the profession have the skills to teach math, Lecce said.

Extensive training

The investment will also include extensive training and coaching in more than 700 targeted elementary and secondary schools, providing educators with direct access to experts and evidence-based instruction to develop the knowledge and pedagogy for better equipping students to succeed in math, the release from the ministry said.