New Ontario elementary math curriculum focuses on coding, financial literacy

Published On June 23, 2020 | By Lucy Lau | News
A new math curriculum will teach elementary school students in Ontario skills such as coding and budgeting from as early as Grade 1. (UKBlackTech)
Lucy Lau

The Ontario government is implementing a new math curriculum that will see elementary school students learn coding and financial literacy skills from as early as Grade 1.

The program takes a “back to basics” approach that emphasizes fundamental math concepts and “critical life skills,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said.

These include coding, personal budgeting and understanding interest and debt, he said.

Lecce said the curriculum also includes “social-emotional learning skills” that support students’ well-being.

It will be taught from Grades 1 to 8 starting this September, he said.

Lecce said the program was developed in consultation with academics, employers and parents.

It marks the first time Ontario’s elementary math curriculum has been updated since 2005.

“We know that many of the jobs of tomorrow and today will increasingly require the skills and knowledge that the old curriculum just wasn’t addressing,” Lecce said in a press conference alongside Premier Doug Ford today.

Lecce said the new curriculum was established to address declining standardized math scores among elementary students, which he and Ford both described as “unacceptable.”

Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) math assessments will be waived for Grade 3 and 6 students for the 2020–2021 school year to help students adjust to the new learning program, Lecce said.

“We don’t want to impose any stress on our young people,” he said. “We want them to focus on adapting to this learning and to a curriculum that really reflects the priorities of parents and, ultimately, the necessary skillsets required in the job market.”

Lecce said although many educators and students are unclear about how the 2020–2021 school year will proceed amid the pandemic, introducing a new curriculum is essential for improving math scores.

“I appreciate the broader challenge around us but we must move forward with these necessary reforms to give hope to these students,” he said.

Only 48 per cent of Grade 6 students met the provincial math standard in the 2018–2019 school year, which is down from 61 per cent in 2009, stated the Education Quality Accountability Office, which administers standardized math and literacy tests across Ontario.

For Grade 3 students, 58 per cent met the standard in 2018–2019, compared to at least 70 per cent in 2009–2010, the EQAO said.

Parents may explore the new elementary math curriculum on the Ontario government’s website.

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