TORONTO - School teaches our children the skills they will need to survive and thrive in a world we are developing. Not all those skills are mechanical (arithmetical, logical). Many are social-psychological. We want our children to be exposed to both in a caring environment with competent and responsible adults who will tend to safety and security as a matter of course.
It is a measure of our social values that we expect our authorities to provide this to all children as if they were our own. We allocate individual and collective resources ($1,200, per annum, in Grants for Student needs) to educational jurisdictions to bring this about, and, entrust parental authority (in loco parentis) to them to do it in the spirit of a caring family.
One of the reasons the Wynne Liberals were decimated in the last election is that people no longer trusted them with the future of their children. The curriculum, judging by results in mathematical and grammar performance, was no longer delivering on the expectations of families.
The Educational Quality Accountability Office (EQAO) is responsible for Ontario's provincial assessment program. EQAO's provincial tests assess student literacy (reading and writing) and math skills at three points in their kindergarten to Grade 12 education.
Last week, it released a study showing that, in elementary schools, the percentage of Grade 3 and Grade 6 students meeting the provincial math standard has decreased over the last five years. The results are troubling.
Only 61% of children in grade three met the provincial math standard (a decrease from 67% in 2014). Of the Grade 6 students assessed in 2018, 49% met the provincial math standard (a decrease from 54% in 2014). Matters are getting worse, not better.
Disturbingly, the results further indicate that only 56% of Grade 3 students and 52% of Grade 6 students believe they are good at math, Yet, 78% are motivated to do their best when they do math activities in class.
Why is this not happening 100% of the time? EQAO says that "high motivation levels signal a positive mindset that can facilitate future achievement". Something is missing.
By the time our children reach their teen-age years in grade nine, 25.6% of them enroll in applied courses (not bound for College or University level studies).
Of these, only 45% met the provincial standard in math. Ask yourself, in this hi-tech, science-oriented world, why are only 74,4% of our children prepared for enrollment in the academic courses? And, 16% of them are unlikely to succeed because they cannot meet the math standard for their grade.
From a purely economic perspective, this is not a good return on investment. Maybe it's time we, as parents, started to ask some tough questions of those to whom we have given the privileged task of educating our children and the next generation of citizens.