Sinking grade in math for Ontario students: Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute released its report on Ontario elementary schools this weekend and eight Ottawa schools are in the top 300 in the province. There are 13 Ottawa-area schools in the bottom 300.

The Fraser Institute Report Card on Ontario Elementary Schools ranks 3,030 schools across the province, both public and private, based on nine academic indicators from the results of province-wide reading, writing and math tests administered by the province's Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).

The top school in Ottawa is Edouard-Bond coming in 46th overall. Other top schools: Ahlul Bayt Islamic and Terres des Jeunes. Tied at 185th are Elmdale, Mutchmor and Abraar. Hopewell Avenue and Devonshire round out the top 300 Ontario schools.

Among the lowest ranked schools in the Capital are St Luke, Charles H. Hulse, Grant Alternative and Queen Mary Street -- the lowest at 3013 out of 3030 total schools.

Speaking on CFRA's Sunday Morning Blend, the study's co-author Peter Cowley said there's a diverse mix of schools performing well in the Capital.

"If you look at Ottawa itself, the highest performing school is a French-Catholic (Edouard-Bond) which got 9.4/10. But, among the top 10 in Ottawa, three were public, seven were Catholic and two were private."

However, Cowley said some of the findings are causing big concerns. "Both in Grade 3 and Grade 6 math, there's a statistically significant decline over the last five years in the percentage of the tests that are actually judged to be at standard. So, across Ontario, it is a problem. As everybody knows, I suppose, one of the major foundations for 21st century learning is a good grasp of math and so much depends on that."

Cowley said that the major lacking in math skills isn’t a problem you can just “throw $40million at and fix it.” He said the root of the problem has to be addressed and that’s related to training elementary teachers in the subject and getting them enthusiastic about teaching it.

In terms of parents looking at their child’s school ranking, Cowley suggests taking the average of five years of results rather than looking at just one year of data because things can change from year to year. He says school boards can use the information to their benefit as well. They should compare similar schools servicing similar demographics and see if there are any consistently doing better than the others. It would then be a matter of adopting the successful tactics employed at that school.

Click here to read through the entire Fraser Institute Report Card

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