Go figure: Math gap persists
French-language students continue to outperform their English counterparts, according to the Education Quality and Accountability Office’s annual report, which was released last week.
That’s not a new development either. For many years, students at French-language schools have fared better on the annual tests that measure reading, writing, and mathematics.
The difference is most noticeable in Grade 6 math, where only 50 per cent of Ontario’s English board students meet the provincial standard. In the French boards, that rate soars to 82 per cent.
At a local level, the pass rate for anglophone students is much more dismal. Both the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario and the Upper Canada District School Board recorded pass rates of 50 per cent. For the local French Catholic board and public board, those rates are 78 and 83 respectively, which are much closer to the provincial average.
It’s a similar situation at the Grade 3 level where math pass rates for the French boards hover around the provincial average of 76 per cent. In that same category, the English Catholic and public boards are below the provincial average of 62 per cent. The public board has a rate of 52 while the Catholic rate is 54. Both boards, as well as the province as a whole, experienced five-year lows there.
Grade 9 fares better
However, it’s not all doom and gloom for the English boards. On Sept. 20, the Upper Canada District School Board issued a media release noting that its students are steadily improving in Grade 9 academic math and the Grade 10 Ontario Secondary School Literary Test, achieving pass rates of 76 and 74 respectively. That’s a one per cent improvement in both categories over the 2015-16 results.
Conversely, the board’s pass rate for Grade 9 applied mathematics was only 35 per cent (another five-year low) while the provincial average stands at 44 per cent.
The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario enjoyed a 50 per cent pass rate for Grade 9 applied mathematics. In academic math, it rose to 85 per cent.
For the French Catholic board (Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l'Est ontarien), the Grade 9 pass rate in applied math was similar to the Upper Canada Board, only 37 per cent; the provincial average is 44. At the academic level, it rose to 83 per cent, which hovers around the provincial average of 85.
At the French Public level, the pass rates for applied and academic math at the Grade 9 level are 62 and 93 per cent respectively.
Trying to figure out why there are such discrepancies between the English and French boards has not been easy. Sophie Auclair, Communications Officer with the EQAO, says her organization does not analyze the data, though she admits that she’s received several calls from people wondering why there’s such a difference. The curriculum is the same no matter what language you study in.
One possible explanation is that the English boards have a higher percentage of students with special needs. At the Grade 3 level, 33 per cent of Upper Canada District School Board students have special needs. At the Catholic board, it’s 37 per cent.
The provincial average is 18 per cent. In Grade 6, 32 per cent of Upper Canada students have special needs while at the Catholic board, the rate is 39. The provincial average: 22.
Only 19 per cent of the local French Catholic board’s Grade 3 students are listed as special needs. At the Grade 6 level, it’s 23 per cent. The provincial averages are 18 and 21 respectively.
At the French Public board, 16 per cent of Grade 3 students are listed as special needs. It’s 17 per cent in Grade 6.
Despite the lower than average numbers, it should be noted that some local schools are performing remarkably well, at least as far as the EQAO is concerned. Laggan Public School, for example, has long been an overachieving school and this year is no different. The school met or exceeded the provincial average in every category, even achieving 100 per cent pass rates in Grade 6 reading and writing. While 86 per cent of its Grade 6 students met the provincial standard in mathematics, it was well above the provincial average of 50 per cent and well above the board average of 39. Likewise, the Grade 3 students did remarkably well in reading and writing; 88 per cent of them achieved the standard in their tests while 62 per cent met it in math, equal to the provincial average. At Williamstown Public, the students are, for the most part, performing around the provincial average. Whereas 80 per cent of its Grade 3 students met the provincial standard in reading and writing, it was only in one category, Grade 6 math, where the students fell well short of the provincial average with only 40 per cent meeting the standard. Iona Academy also did fairly well, with Grade 3 provincial standard rates of 80 per cent, 93 per cent, and 73 per cent in reading, writing, and mathematics respectively. At the Grade 6 level, those rates were 87, 96, and 52. At St. Finnan’s in Alexandria, Grade 3 students achieved pass rates of 69, 74, and 62 in those same categories. In Grade 6 they were 80, 80, and 52. Maxville Public Grade 3 results: 60, 83, and 60. In Grade 6: 86, 91, and 43. Elda-Rouleau Grade 3: 83, 85, 78. Grade 6: 89, 86, 89. Terre-des-Jeunes Grade 3: 80, 72, 72. Grade 6: 84, 84, 78. Ange-Gardien Grade 3: 73, 70, 78. Grade 6: 92, 87, 89.
FRANCO PRIDE: Le Relais teacher Marie-Josée Larocque accompanied student Angelina Gendreau to Island Park in Alexandria on Monday morning for the annual francoontarien flag day. More images inside.