EQAO Testing

So, the EQAO testing is done for our elementary students for another year. I get a fair number of questions concerning these standardized tests from anxious parents. Many parents feel that these tests are an unnecessary stress on their kids. I don’t have a problem with the test per se, my issue is with the weight the scores are given and the knee jerk reaction that immediately follows the Fraser Institute’s publication.
The grade 3 and 6 testing would be a fine idea if it provided an accurate snapshot of our students’ education level from the regular curriculum; however, it does not. Typically, what you get are the results of teachers stopping the regular curriculum to prepare the kids for the test.  In addition, many kids are exempted from the test so the numbers do not include these potentially low scores. Identified students and those most at risk of failure are given scribes to record the work for them and can have the questions or stories read to them, taking away the literacy element of the test.
 So does this really tell us anything about the curriculum?  How can these results be used to modify or improve the curriculum when it doesn’t accurately show weak areas? If there was no prep, no exemptions, and no scribes assigned, we would see very different (and far more accurate) scores.
I completely understand why the teachers and schools prep, exempt, and assist students with these tests. When your school’s ranking is based on these scores of course you would use any means allowed to achieve more favourable results. I have seen parents ready to jump ship from a school with a low ranking to one with the highest ranking. This reaction is frustrating when you have parents who were happy with their school and with the classroom teacher but suddenly have doubts based on a dubious ranking system. 
To me, the chemistry between the teacher and the students plays a more crucial role in the early years than an unreliable ranking.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has proposed a two-year moratorium on the EQAO testing in order to review the testing and consider the best way to measure students’ progress.
I have been having conversations about the EQAO tests for years now and I was surprised to see many of my own concerns and complaints listed on the ETFO site.  One thing that really surprised me was the cost of the testing and development of the test. I thought it would be around 10 million each year. Nope.

EQAO’s most recent annual report indicates expenses of $33 million in 2009-10. A further
$77 million is spent by the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat designing and mandating
programs designed to improve test scores. And individual boards spend more. Think about
what that money could do if it were spent on education instead.
Taken from ETFO website. Link provided below

 

This is money spent every year yet we have high school students coming to us without textbooks! I know books are expensive- we buy them too, but schools shouldn’t have to fundraise for materials. My other pet peeve is the lack of educational assistant support. If the money spent on this yearly test was set aside for textbooks and EAs that would go a long way towards improving the quality of our education system.
The ETFO and I are very much in agreement on this issue.
I urge all parents to consider these rankings with a grain of salt.

LINKS
For more information on the ETFO’s viewpoint on EQAO testing please visit this link:
http://www.etfo.ca/issuesineducation/eqaotesting/pages/default.aspx

For the Government of Ontario’s side follow this link:
http://www.eqao.com/AboutEQAO/GeneralQuestions.aspx?Lang=e

 

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