All students left behind: an ambitious provincial school reform in Canada, but poor math achievements from grade two to ten

Pierre Lefebvre, Université du Québec à Montréal
Catherine Haeck, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Philip Merrigan, Université du Québec à Montréal

We investigate the impact of an ambitious provincial school reform in Canada on children's mathematical ability. It is the first paper to exploit a universal school reform of this magnitude to identify the causal e¤ect of a widely supported teaching approach on the development of the mathematical skills of students. The provincial experiment/reform studied in this paper has some evaluation advantages and cut across some of the methodological di¢ culties of previous research. First, the reform was implemented in each and every schools across the province in both primary and secondary schools. Second, the reform was implemented in steps, such that one grade apart students were either treated during their entire school life or not at all. Third, our data set provides a longer observation period than typically encountered in the literature. Results suggest that the reform had negative e¤ects on the development of students' mathematical abilities at all points on the skills distribution and that the e¤ects were larger the longer the exposure to the reform.

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Presented in Session 28: Economics and labor market issues