You’ve likely already noticed that math is a hot topic in mainstream media these days. While newsrooms haven’t always been following the subject, we have.
Monitoring the profession from a global perspective, and debating strengths and limitations of our current practice, are part of the day-to-day work at KCS. This determination to do our best for every student over the years has led to a number of initiatives, such as:
- Constantly growing collection of tools for differentiating instruction in the classroom, so all students can learn what they need at the level that’s right for them
- Introduction of math workshops (small-group dedicated instruction) in grades 6 to 8
- Introduction of JUMP Math in grades 2 to 5, where we think it’s the best fit
- Introduction of the online math program Math Help Services in grades 7 and 8, where we think it’s the best fit
- The use of Khan Academy to help support differentiated instruction
- Widespread participation in the Brock University Caribou Math Challenge
- The use of the University of Waterloo Math Problem of the Week in multiple grades for rigorous problem-solving
- Introduction of computer programming with Visual Basic through our electives program, a language that requires significant use of advanced math
These are on top of our longstanding commitment to ensuring students master their basic math facts; avoiding the use of calculators except when appropriate and in the oldest grades; having ample experience with problem-solving; and enjoying generous use of concrete materials in their youngest years.
In the Family Satisfaction survey, a number of parents asked about our math program, in particular math in our older grades. I’m happy to report that our Canadian Achievement Test scores from last year are the best ever in the school’s history, with our senior students on average achieving in the 91st percentile across Canada in math concepts, and the 93rd percentile in computation and estimation. In fact, from grades 3 to 7, the grades that undertake the CAT test, the average percentiles were all at their highest ever, ranging from the 84th to the 94th percentile. We regularly hear from alumni and their parents that our students do very well in grade 9. Any feedback to the contrary is explored to determine what, if anything, can be done better.
Our math teachers have worked tirelessly over the years to help every student master what they need to know. For students who can’t get enough math, we won’t stop looking for more to give. For students who find math a relatively daunting challenge? Attentive teachers, with multiple tools, some being online, is great news for them too. And when news media have moved on to other issues, we’ll still be learning, debating and improving what we do.
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.