Will changes to Ontario’s math curriculum improve students’ math performance?

The Ontario government announced changes to the province’s math curriculum today that will see elementary school teachers return to a focus on fundamental “back-to-basics” math as part of a four-year strategy.

Tina RapkeTina Rapke, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education and an expert in teaching and learning mathematics, is available for comment on the impact these changes will have on students. She can also explain the challenges of the current math curriculum, why it is difficult to translate conceptual and theoretical ideas in the current curriculum, and how practical math classroom activities based on proven research can improve students’ success in math.

Rapke – a parent and mathematician who teaches mathematics education courses to current and prospective teachers – has conducted extensive research on strategies to enhance the learning and teaching of mathematics. Rapke wrote a chapter in the book Teaching and Learning Secondary School Mathematics titled Re-Framing Testing to Better Fit Within Problem-solving Classrooms: Ways to Create and Review Tests, which identified teaching strategies to help students perform better on tests, published last year. She has also wrote and co-wrote several journal articles including Autobiographical Accounts of Students' Experiences Learning Mathematics: A Review and A process of students and their instructor developing a final closed-book mathematics exam.

Currently, Rapke works with teachers, principals and researchers in school classrooms to develop practical and structured classroom activities that help students learn. She can comment on:

  • Mathematic education at all levels from K-12 and university
  • The current and proposed math curriculum
  • Challenges of memorization and rote learning techniques
  • Elementary school math scores and testing
  • Teachers and mandatory math tests
  • Education and professional learning for mathematics teachers
  • Bridging the divide between research and what happens in math classrooms
  • Connecting home and school learning of mathematics
  • Math anxiety

To speak to an expert, please contact Vanessa Thompson, York University Media Relations, 647-654-9452, 
vthomps@yorku.ca.