It adds up: The reason students’ math scores are higher in Quebec than in the rest of Canada. It’s not just math scores that set Quebec apart. If Quebec were an independent country, it would rank in the top five in the world for its students’ science scores
Education experts in Quebec credit one main reason why students in the province consistently top the country’s math rankings: Quebec teachers are better trained.
A bachelor of education in Quebec takes four years to complete, during which future teachers spend at least 700 hours in elementary or secondary classrooms.
In Ontario, teachers often get a four-year undergraduate diploma before starting a two-year teaching degree.
Before 2015 in Ontario, teachers received only one year of training — meaning most of the teachers in classrooms in that province have been trained one-fourth as long as their Quebec colleagues.
Annie Savard, a professor at McGill University’s department of integrated studies in education, has just finished conducting research on how mathematics is taught in high schools across Canada.
Ontario, she explained, has elementary school through Grade 8, while high school in Quebec begins in Grade 7 and ends in Grade 11.
Therefore, Savard says, Quebec students in seventh and eighth grades are taught by “math specialists” while their peers in Ontario are instructed by elementary school teachers.
“If we look at a Grade 7 teacher who was trained at the elementary level, who went to one year at teachers college, and you compare them to someone in Quebec, who had four years training … it’s clear we have two teachers who are completely different,” Savard said in an interview.
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