Poor math scores just don't add up, Opposition Leader says

Teresa Wright
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P.E.I.'s poor scores in international math testing were the focus of scrutiny today in the P.E.I. legislature.

Opposition Leader Steven Myers raised concern about the fact Island students scored last in the country in math, as well as in reading and science on the 2013 PISA results.

He pointed to a presentation made recently at UPEI called the ‘State of Mathematics in P.E.I.’ by UPEI professor Dr. Tess Miller.

She called the poor math outcomes among P.E.I. students a crisis.

“She calls this a red light for Prince Edward Island,” Myers said.

“Will you admit this is a crisis?”


Education Minister Alan McIsaac admits he was not pleased with the PISA scores, but noted the Grade 9 students who took the 2013 PISA tests came into the school system before his Liberal government took office.

Targeted investments have since been made into the early years system, to ensure those children entering Kindergarten and Grade 1 are better prepared with pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills.

“We couldn’t just throw the money out, hope it lands willy-nilly. It had to be put in a proper area, make our investments where they needed to be made to improve our educational system across the province,” McIsaac said.

But Myers said poor math outcomes among students will eventually lead to poor economic outcomes for Prince Edward Island.

“Dr. Miller notes that if we don’t change the way we educate our students in mathematics, the crisis will extend into the P.E.I. economy,” Myers said.

“Being last in math in this entire country is going hurt our economy here in the future. It’s sad that you don’t see that.”

McIsaac noted UPEI has changed its Bachelor of Education degree to include a specialization in math education.




Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Mathematics

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Recent comments

    May 14, 2014 - 23:42

    Your first step should be taking the "new" math out of the school system and putting back the math books to what they were. I can't recall how many calls I have got from a parent trying to help their child with homework. Never mind doing studies for four more years and then saying oh ya..its the text books.

  • Scarlett1942
    May 13, 2014 - 21:57

    Maybe the Dept of Education should employ teachers who had a major in Math teach Math. Too many teachers do NOT teach the subject s/he majored in during university. If I needed to have an operation for removal of teeth I would never go to a foot doctor. Same theory applies for teachers teaching students.

    • yeah but
      May 15, 2014 - 11:53

      Did they major in "real" math or "new" math. I studied Physics. We used old math. No one asked that rather than calculate the electric field at point A, we write a paragraph outlining 5 ways that we could describe a method that may help find it.

    May 13, 2014 - 21:39

    Stop cutting teaching staff...too many students per class to one teacher...

  • babydirtybike
    May 13, 2014 - 21:27

    Putting five year old kids in a full day of school in the hopes of making them better at math is ridiculous.

  • Resident
    May 13, 2014 - 20:12

    I guess, Education Minister has math issues too: province debt doubled since current government took over... At least he can't get education worse than it is, since it's already behind everyone else.

  • Observer
    May 13, 2014 - 19:22

    PEI students finish dead last in Canada in the 2012 PISA assessment; and McIssac, as well as the PEITF will not accept this fact. They both will look for excuses; such as to criticize the PISA assessment tool or blame the previous government, instead of looking at the reasons why their students finish last or near the bottom on every assessment.

    • Garth Staples
      May 13, 2014 - 19:42

      Right On!

    • David
      May 13, 2014 - 20:07

      The reasons are that a child in grade 9 who did not get the proper education their first four years can't be caught up by throwing money at them. If you do not have the capacity to do basic formulas, you certainly can't learn calculus. No government will bring PISA scores up overnight - the things we do today will show up years from now, which is why we need to get the knee-jerk politics out of our education system.

  • Producing Stooges as MP's and Graduates
    May 13, 2014 - 19:02

    Figures don't lie and liars don't figure.

    • don
      May 14, 2014 - 00:05

      this government does NOT lie they just do not know what the word "TRUTH" is or means.

  • Peter
    May 13, 2014 - 17:28

    UPEI just graduated how many students?... and how many of them can count change back from a dollar?... and that doesn't tell the educational system something? Duh....

  • Part of the problem
    May 13, 2014 - 17:22

    People may be embarrassed by lack of reading skills, but lack of basic math skills seems perfectly acceptable. If you aren't a math or science nerd, it seems accepted as normal. How can you expect to have people excel in a subject that no one cares if you ever master?

  • Just Maybe
    May 13, 2014 - 17:07

    Just maybe , if we went back to the pass fail system rather than grouping all students together . It would give the students a challenge . As it is now , it doesn't matter how you do , you get the same praise regardless if you work at it or just goof off . Every one is equal which is just not the case as some are better with their minds & some are better with their hands . Grouping them together just takes away incentive from the real workers that want to achieve . The scores that our students receive will effect their chances for the rest of their lives and are directly related to the quality of their teachers who are also deflated with the poor & good teachers being treated the same . Shame - Shame on PEI education system making our kids second class in Canada .

  • mark
    May 13, 2014 - 16:18

    Mr. MacIsaac, nice try on deflecting the blame onto the government before, but, it does not matter when the students came into the system. It is about the now and what objectives your government has put forth. Judging by all of the facts presented, I am going to say you are the true failure in this story.

  • Inspector Space Time
    May 13, 2014 - 15:54

    When I was in high school I never had a chance go succeed becsuse there wasn't enough help, even some of my friends moved off island because they know that if they continued with Pei's education system they are not going anywhere.

  • Recent Uni Grad
    May 13, 2014 - 15:40

    Speaking for my own school experience... The problem is that most children don't care about school, they go because they have to. This is evident starting in junior high. The handful that actually put effort in are chastised because they aren't following the crowd. Free education is taken for granted by nearly everyone, ask someone in Jr high or high school if they enjoy going.

    • Another recent uni grad
      May 13, 2014 - 22:24

      I totally agree with the above comment, it is not any political parties fault that kids do not do good in school. When I went to middle and high school, the teachers put in an efforts if you were willing to as well, problem is most kids don't care and their parents don't either. Can't expect the PEI government to change the culture.

  • Hmm
    May 13, 2014 - 15:04

    But cutting 32 teaching positions is still the right move? I understand enrolment is down so what about keeping those positions and lowering classroom sizes. But I was educated in PEI so my assessment is probably way off.

    • actually..
      May 13, 2014 - 18:35

      ..it is closer to 40 teachers that are being cut. With less teachers, less support staff, and bigger classes, scores are bound to go up! Liberal reasoning at its best. Maybe they should go back to school. However, you can't teach common sense.