TORONTO — Ontario students' math and literacy scores are either relatively flat or up slightly compared to last year, though math results in particular remain low, according to data released Thursday by the Education Quality and Accountability Office.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce said the results for the 2022-23 school year are positive and due to a revised curriculum and a lack of school closures due to COVID-19 and labour disruptions.
"After years of difficulty and following a global pandemic, we are seeing stability and some incremental gains in reading, writing and math scores that demonstrate our investments," he said at a press conference.
"The back-to-basics focus and stability in schools is yielding some good results for kids."
Math scores have been a particular focal point for the Progressive Conservative government, and while the results showed improvement, the numbers are still low.
The EQAO said that 60 per cent of Grade 3 students met the provincial standard for math, up from 59 per cent the year before. Half of Grade 6 students met the provincial standard in math, up from 47 per cent the previous year. For Grade 9 students, 54 per cent met the provincial math standard, up from 52 per cent the previous year.
Lecce said there is more work to be done.
"This is a huge opportunity for the province to really continue to refocus on mathematic achievement," he said.
Lecce touted programs such as having a "math lead" in every school board to focus on increasing standards and training in mathematics, and hiring specialized math teachers.
The Progressive Conservative government campaigned in 2018 on bringing in a new math curriculum, criticizing the former Liberal government's so-called Discovery Math curriculum and years of declining EQAO math scores.
Ontario introduced its new math curriculum into classrooms in September 2020, framing it as getting back to basics and giving students skills to get jobs of the future.
Overall, students performed better on reading and writing assessments than on the math tests. The EQAO said 73 per cent of Grade 3 students met the standard for reading and 65 per cent met the standard for writing, both unchanged from the year before.
For Grade 6 students, 84 per cent met the standard for reading, down one percentage point from the previous year, and 84 per cent also met the standard for writing, unchanged from the previous year.
The EQAO said that 85 per cent of students who wrote the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test for the first time - it is generally taken in Grade 10 - were successful, compared to 82 per cent the prior year.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2023.
The Canadian Press