Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Literacy, math results mixed

Literacy success rates continue to improve in Ontario elementary schools with each passing year.
Grade 3 math achievement rates have remained the same, although they have dropped again for students in Grade 6.

A review of Grade 6 student math responses shows students consistently do best demonstrating their math knowledge and least well applying that knowledge, particularly in problem-solving.
In secondary schools, math success rates have been improving steadily for the past five years for students in both the academic and applied courses.
However, more than half the students in the applied course still are not meeting the provincial standard.
Meanwhile, of the Grade 10 students who were eligible to write the Ontario Secondary Literacy Test for the first time in 2014, 83 percent were successful, maintaining a high level of literacy achievement.
Results show the success rate on the OSSLT for students in applied English courses, however, has been decreasing each year for the past five years.
Persistently low success rates for students in both the applied English and applied math courses suggest a review of those courses is warranted.
•Reading/writing
Some 70 percent of Grade 3 students and 79 percent of Grade 6 students now are meeting the provincial reading standard—an increase of eight percentage points and seven percentage points, respectively, over the past five years.
Meanwhile, 78 percent of students in both Grade 3 and Grade 6 have met the expected level in writing.
This represents an eight-percentage-point increase over the past five years for students in both grades.
•Mathematics
Just 67 percent of Grade 3 students met the standard in 2014 compared to 71 percent in 2010, indicating a four-percentage-point decrease.
Only 54 percent of Grade 6 students met the standard in 2014 compared to 61 percent in 2010—a seven-percentage-point decrease from 2010.
•Grade 9 mathematics
The math success rate steadily has been improving in both academic and applied courses.
Some 85 percent of students enrolled in the academic math course met the provincial standard this year, a three-percentage-point increase over the past five years.
Only 47 percent of students enrolled in the applied math course met the provincial standard this year—but that was a seven-percentage-point increase.
The success rate of students in the applied math course has remained persistently low, with more than half (53 percent) of the enrolled students in this course not meeting the provincial standard.
A significant number of students who did not meet the standard in the Grade 9 applied math course (90 percent) also had not met the provincial math standards when they were in Grade 6.
•Grade 10 literacy
Some 83 percent of participating students were successful on the OSSLT on their first try.
In the applied English course, the OSSLT success rate of students has decreased by ten percentage points in the past five years, from 60% in 2010 to 50% in 2014.
And 75 percent of students in the applied English course who were unsuccessful on the OSSLT also had not met the Grade 6 provincial reading standard.
“Ontario’s elementary schools do a very good job developing student reading and writing skills,” said EQAO chair Brian Desbiens.
“[But] we’re still not seeing the same kind of achievement in math, and aggressive efforts to turn that around must continue at all levels of the education system,” he noted.
“Applied courses were introduced in secondary schools a number of years ago to offer programming for students with different strengths, interests, needs, and learning styles,” noted EQAO CEO Bruce Rodrigues.
“Student achievement in these courses continues to lag.
“It’s worth reviewing the intent of these courses and how they might better support student achievement,” he said.
“To paint a quick picture, Grade 6 students know how to multiply [for example] but struggle to know when multiplication is needed to solve a problem,” Rodrigues added.
“This has been a consistent pattern with our students.
“They perform best on questions asking them to demonstrate their math knowledge and least well when asked to apply that knowledge—particularly when problem-solving,” he remarked.

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