A Close Look at Mathematics—Highlights

Series description and background: A Close Look at Mathematics is a series that focuses on EQAO data and research on mathematics with the intent of fostering discussions about student supports and strategies for mathematics learning at the classroom, school, board and provincial levels. The purpose of the series is to investigate Ontario students’ mathematics achievement through a holistic lens, taking into account a variety of contextual factors, such as demographics, attitudes, behaviours and learning. These findings are important to consider as the province moves forward with learning renewal and recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic and with the implementation of a destreamed Grade 9 mathematics curriculum. Vol. 1: Revisiting EQAO Research from 2011 to 2019 is a compilation of previous EQAO research reports on mathematics, which have been thematically organized to highlight four major findings:
  1. Students’ Knowledge and Skills in Mathematics: Students have a good knowledge of math facts but are more likely to be challenged by items designed to assess critical thinking and the application of math facts.
  2. Teacher and School Practices Influencing Math Achievement: Building positive attitudes toward math and a positive school climate that fosters inquiry and collaboration can improve students’ math achievement. Other strategies for success include using data effectively for improvement planning and engaging parents and students in learning.
  3. Student Factors on Math Achievement: Demographics, Attitudes and Behaviours: Having a positive attitude toward math and using math strategies early on (in the primary grades) strongly relate to math achievement in Grade 9. A lower proportion of students with special education needs meet the provincial standard each year and have been disproportionately represented in the applied math course, compared to those without special education needs.
  4. Early Learning Experiences and Math Achievement Trajectories: Meeting the provincial standard in Grades 3 and 6 mathematics is a good predictor of higher achievement in the Grade 9 math courses. Prior research has shown a persistent achievement gap between students enrolled in the applied course and those enrolled in the academic course, regardless of early learning experiences. Students who were enrolled in an academic course of study demonstrated higher achievement, regardless of past experiences with large-scale assessment.
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