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Available Expert - Math education in the 2016 Ontario Throne Speech

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Queen's University education expert Lynda Colgan is available to comment on the Ontario Throne Speech. In particular, the speech declared that, in "an effort to improve math skills, in particular numeracy," the government will move to ensure that all elementary schools have up to three math lead teachers. This announcement comes in response to last year’s standardized test by the Education Quality Alliance of Ontario, which found half of Grade 6 students failed to meet the provincial standards.

"There are 3,974 elementary schools in Ontario," says Dr. Colgan. "This means that as a profession, we need a minimum of 3,974 math lead teachers and a maximum of 11,382. That is a tall order. Based on my experience as an elementary mathematics educator for nearly two decades, I can identify - on the basis of my mental Rolodex - about 50 individuals with the expertise, enthusiasm and leadership skills to take on such a role. If other faculties across the province are the same, then we can conclude that there is an enormous gap between the need for math lead teachers and the available pool of individuals equipped to assume the role." 

Despite the difficulties in identifying and attracting teachers with the necessary expertise and skills, Dr. Colgan argues that - with sufficient measures to ensure math lead teachers have the nessessary qualification - this approach could benefit students. In an article on the topic published earlier this year, Dr. Colgan suggests a number of measures including separate teacher preparation programs for generalist and specialist teachers (Grades 4 to 8) at the elementary level, to ensure math lead teachers are properly equipped before entering the classroom.

Dr. Lynda Colgan is an associate professor of Elementary Mathematics Education at Queen's University and a leading expert in the field. She is available for print and radio interviews, by phone, on Tuesday, September 13.

To arrange an interview, please contact communications officer Chris Armes (613-533-6000 ext. 77513 or chris.armes@queensu.ca) or Anne Craig (613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.caat Queen’s University News and Media Services Department in Kingston, Ont., Canada.

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Attention broadcasters: Queen’s has facilities to provide broadcast quality audio and video feeds. For television interviews, we can provide a live, real-time double ender from Kingston with HD-SDI. Please call for details.

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