Math Strategy to Help Students

Department of Education (to March 26, 2013)

March 22, 2002 11:14 AM

A comprehensive math strategy is adding books and other resources
to Nova Scotia classrooms to help students master critical math
skills.

Education Minister Jane Purves announced Math Matters today as
part of the first annual Minister's Report to Parents. The report
includes the most recent provincial, national and international
testing results and an action plan to improve student learning.

"Nova Scotians need a solid foundation in the basics -- reading,
writing and math," said Ms. Purves. "We've launched several early
literacy initiatives. Math needs the same kind of attention."

Testing results show that elementary students are struggling with
math. The new strategy aims to support students and teachers to
improve students' grasp of reasoning, logic and problem-solving
skills.

"Students need more time to focus on math," said Ms. Purves.
"We're looking for about an hour a day, depending on the grade
level."

Primary to Grade 2 students will spend 45 minutes daily on math
while students in grades 3 to 9 will spend a full hour. High
school students will spend a minimum of 110 hours per credit of
math. Year-long math course options will be explored for
semestered schools.

Ms. Purves noted that the extra time needs to be quality time.

"We'll ensure that it's quality time by supporting our teachers
with resources and professional development," she said. "Teachers
have asked for support with the new math curriculum, and we know
they will use it well to help their students succeed."

From 1997 to 2002, Nova Scotia has phased in a new math
curriculum for primary to Grade 12. It was developed according to
standards set by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

This spring, 880 teachers will get professional development to
become math leaders for teachers in primary to Grade 9. Every
teacher in these grades will also receive a practical resource
that links curriculum outcomes to classroom teaching. The
resource will include sample lesson plans, homework and other
learning activities.

"Students need books to learn," said Ms. Purves. "We've already
invested more than $2 million so that every junior and senior
high school student has a math text book."

About $500,000 has gone into graphing calculators, fraction
blocks and teacher resources to help Grade 1 to 9 students learn
to do math in their heads. About $350,000 is buying a set of
books for each elementary school to help students learn math
concepts, from spacial sense to algebra, through reading.

The high school curriculum includes advanced courses. It also
aims to meet the needs of struggling students with programs like
Math Plus. The program is currently being piloted with Grade 10
students at 12 Nova Scotia schools and is helping many make
significant progress.

"Math Plus is certainly increasing students' confidence and skill
levels," said Anna Spanik, a Grade 10 teacher at Queen Elizabeth
High School. "It's not a magic potion that will fix problems for
every student, but for those who haven't met all of the junior
high outcomes, Math Plus can help students get back on track so
they're prepared for a Grade 11 academic math course."

The Department of Education will work with Nova Scotia
universities to give student teachers more opportunities to
prepare for teaching math.

"The Grade 5 math testing results are absolutely unacceptable,
but hiding the fact that there's a problem wouldn't improve
student learning," said Ms. Purves. "We need to keep testing to
diagnose problems and keep providing support so that our students
succeed."

Provincial testing will continue in elementary school. Grade 8
students will write math tests this June. Grade 12 math exams
will be added in 2004. Students will also continue to participate
in national and international tests. The results will be
published annually in the Minister's Report to Parents.

"Once our testing results help us identify problems, we all need
to work together on the solutions," said the minister. "Parents,
teachers, school boards and the department all have a role to
play to ensure our students get the math skills they need for
future learning and for life in the real world."

The math strategy will require school boards to develop action
plans and set targets to improve student achievement.

The Minister's Report to Parents and Action Plan are available at
www.ednet.ns.ca . Copies are being mailed to all schools and to
parent groups that are members of the Nova Scotia Federation of
Home and School Associations.


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     A comprehensive math strategy is adding books and other

resources to Nova Scotia classrooms.

     The strategy is called Math Matters. It will help students

master critical math skills.

     The strategy will see students spending more time on math.

It's also giving students resources like text books, graphing

calculators and fraction blocks.

     Teachers get more support through the strategy, too.

Professional development and resources will help them to deliver

the new math curriculum.

     Education Minister Jane Purves announced the strategy today.

She says students need a strong foundation in the basics --

reading, writing and math.

-30-

Contact: Adèle Poirier
         Department of Education
         902-424-8307
         E-mail: poiriea@gov.ns.ca

kjd         March 22, 2002      11:12 A.M.