Tbnewswatch Local News
Tuesday July 7 2015
7:04 AM EDT
2014-01-09 at 17:23

Math money

File -- Students use tablets, laptops and other electronic devices at Kingsway Park Public School in this file photo from February 2013.
File -- Students use tablets, laptops and other electronic devices at Kingsway Park Public School in this file photo from February 2013.
By Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com

City educators are welcoming a $4 million investment in mathematics education for Ontario students.

On Wednesday Education Minister Liz Sandals announced the funding that will be used for partial subsidies for teachers to take courses to upgrade their math skills.

The move aims to encourage more teachers to specialize in math, specifically at the primary and junior levels.

While it's unknown how the $4 million will be doled out across the province, Thunder Bay Catholic District School board director of education Joan Powell said the board is always thrilled to receive additional funding from the government, especially when it's focused on a program to help students.

The Catholic board saw 72 per cent of their Grade 3 students  and 60 per cent of their Grade 6 students pass the Education Quality and Accountability Office's standardized test in 2013; that's well above the provincial averages of 67 and 57 per cent.

Although the board is happy with those results, Powell said the numbers did fall a little from the previous year and math is an important area of focus.

"Math is not necessarily a subject everybody feels totally comfortable with and I think teachers who might not have really loved math as kids might not feel really comfortable teaching it," she said.

"The curriculum is very dense. There are five strands."

The additional training is a great idea, she said, adding the Catholic board has already started developing a course for intermediate teachers to bring their math skills up with the University of Toronto.

"We feel we're a little ahead of the curve on that," she said.

Lakehead Public Schools' director of education Cathi Siemieniuk said the pubic board also already has programs in place to improve math scores and while she's not sure how the money will be directed, any additional funding is welcome.

"I think that this announcement certainly confirms we're heading in the right direction," she said Thursday.

Sixty-one per cent of the public board's Grade 3 students passed the standardized test and 50 per cent of Grade 6 students passed in 2013.

There are already math resource teachers as well as additional professional development available for staff and Siemieniuk said they have a homework help program and their information technology plan also supports mathematics.

"It's our intent to make an optimal learning environment for all students. Any support we can give our teachers and support staff in helping create that is welcome," she said.

For teachers, there's always room to grow and any funding that goes to education is a positive thing, said Ellen Chambers, president of the local Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario.

"There's always room for more professional development and professional learning as part of a teacher's career," she said. "It's always ongoing learning. That's a good thing."

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Papercut says:
There was an interview on the Local TV news with the Teacher's union local president....she boldly proclaimed that this new math system will need to be taught to the teachers "DURING SCHOOL TIME".

My question is: JUST WHAT THE HECK ARE ALL THESE PD/PA DAYS FOR??????? Also do you not get an hour off from teaching each day already for things like this?????

1/10/2014 2:01:48 PM
humnchuck says:
Those are school days, Papercut...PA Days are counted as 6 of the 195 days in a school year. The province has already required teachers to take 2 or 3 unpaid days this year, which have to be on PA Days when students aren't in school because the school year cannot be lengthened. I would anticipate that teachers would be undertaking development activities on those other PA Days remaining. Why not call the board or your nearby school and ask, instead of complaining on here?

Also, your ? key appears to be stuck.
1/10/2014 3:47:42 PM
my 2 cents says:
This site often makes me shake my head. We get the results from the testing and the complaints come in regarding the low scores. They try to address it, and the complaints roll in that it is a waste.

The solution they are offering is staff development. Many employers and companies offer this on a continual basis to keep up with times and trends. Unfortunately there is a cost involved, no matter what the business is. Change is happening at an accelerated rate and most employees no longer have the luxury to rest on their laurels and rely on the original training to carry them throughout their career. I don't understand why, according to some of the comments posted, many people believe that education is exempt from change. Skill development for the teachers, that then assist our kids, how is this a bad thing?
1/10/2014 1:01:48 PM
S Duncan says:
anybody else ever notice that government measures its involvement and successes in "dollars spent"?

Its always "We invested blah blah millions into this whatever program"

like throwing money at things is how you deal with a problem.??

Our Liberal mpps are masters of it if you pay attention.
1/10/2014 12:58:32 PM
Gord says:
Seriously... this is a bad joke right? If a teacher who is teaching math cant do basic math, they should be fired, not trained.
1/10/2014 11:56:38 AM
yqtyqt says:
Agreed Gord.

Where has the concept gone with professional development paid for by the respective professionals. If the teachers can't meet the grade, shouldn't they be fired or given certain amount of time to upgrade their skills on their own money. That's what the rest of the professionals do. The teachers spend how much paid time on professional development days to do exactly what?

The government needs to take the bulls by the horn for once. We pay the highest salaries on the continent for teachers in Ontario. Shouldn't we expect them to be the best on the continent (on their own dime).

This is just another example of the Liberal government sucking up to the public sector unions. Grow a spine Liberals. You're paying for the best, get the best or fire the incompetent teachers who are underqualified!
1/10/2014 1:17:08 PM
bttnk says:
Gord - How you can manage to get that teachers teaching math don't have basic math skills from this article is beyond me. Perhaps you should get some reading comprehension training? This is professional development for teachers. Specifically, developing teachers understanding of the curriculum, wich has changed drastically over he years.
1/10/2014 1:53:33 PM
ircorrect says:
The problem with math education is not entirely the fault of teachers being unfamiliar with the material. There is also a problem with the way it has been mandated to teach.

Teachers are required to spend almost all of their time teaching students to understand math (something that was never done until recent years). When I was a student, understanding math was irrelevant, being able to do math quickly was the focus.

Math needs a balance between understanding and doing. Students need to be reintroduced to math drills and repetitive problem solving. Being taught the skills to analyze and understand a math problem is great, but not very useful if every time the students have to execute a problem, they have to stop and think for 2 hours while staring blankly at their smart phone.

It's time to balance conceptual understanding with rote memorization and repetitive problem solving.
1/10/2014 11:05:47 AM
forester says:
The money is for the entire province and is for teachers to take classes so they understand math and maybe for websites to support children's learning. Essentially it won't really benefit the kids. This was announced yesterday & the details are readily available not sure why the T-bay news couldn't find it?

1/10/2014 10:43:22 AM
baffled says:
The $4 million is for the entire province. Not just Thunder Bay.
1/10/2014 8:47:30 AM
unknowncronik says:

Were in an area of its "WHO YA KNOW" to get a good job around here, nothing to do with how you did @ teachers college.
1/10/2014 7:48:14 AM
jonthunder says:
Once students get to a level above learning the very basics of arithmetic they should be taught math by teachers specializing in the subject; science would be another subject to consider for such methods.
1/10/2014 7:40:07 AM
wasaya says:
oh quit picking on the poor teachers....they are quite hard done by with their $90k salaries.
1/10/2014 7:18:16 AM
SomeGuy says:
Do you have a problem against teachers making a decent living? Teachers make a huge impact on our children.
1/10/2014 4:33:50 PM
livewire says:
Money should be AUDITED to make sure it's spent properly.
1/10/2014 5:32:00 AM
dynamiter says:
So let me get this straight they are giving the Lakehead board 4 million dollars to train teachers to teach math better because we had low test scores? How about making it a condition of the job to get their skills up so that they can teach their students? How about firing those teachers who dont upgrade their skills or whose students dont perform well? They do make a lot of money and get good benefits. Or better yet - make them upgrade their skills in the summer months. Who says that they need the summers off, it this was a business would this type of performance be tolerated - no you would be out of business and somebody would have your business/job. We really need to rethink our education system in this day and age of global competition. Schools should be open all year around. School buildings need to be rethought vis a vis classrooms, infrastructure costs and who owns and manages them.
1/9/2014 11:15:32 PM
realitycheck411 says:
FYI, it's 4 million for all teachers across Ontario.

This is just a small amount to the vast sum of monies wasted on EQAO testing and literacy based testing. What the government is really saying is that they neglected math for the last decade because of their absurd focus on literacy and it is showing in the results.
1/10/2014 7:19:05 AM
snapdaddy says:
If I understand this correctly, $4 million to help teachers understand what they should have received during their education. Am I missing something?
1/9/2014 9:24:34 PM
fan says:
So, the Ontario Ministry of Education is funding Boards to the tune of 4 million dollars without asking these Boards what is needed??????? Would it not make more sense to CONSULT the Boards directly before throwing money at unknown needs. As for subsidizing teachers to upgrade their math skills, all I can say is REALLY? More time out of their classrooms attending professional development to acquire the basic skills necessary to be hired in the first place.
1/9/2014 6:32:36 PM
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