Cancel EQAO to save money

 In Opinion

As teacher strike action escalates and the Grade 9 EQAO standardized test approaches, Ontario’s Education Minister Stephen Lecce is leaving it up to individual school boards to decide if they wish to delay the test. This is because high school teachers have included EQAO testing in their work-to-rule job action.
The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) test is highly criticized by educators. Teachers say they don’t like that it is a drain on resources and they are expected to ‘teach to the test’ and administrators, in our experience, don’t like the way the results are used by media to tell an overall picture of the school’s success.
We have heard tales of real estate agents telling people (even single, childless ones, humourously) that their perspective home is in a “good school district.” That notion is puzzling since the whole point of the standardized test is to ensure the curriculum is standardized too and the beauty of our publically funded school system is that ostensibly, every child has access to an equal education. No one school district should be better than another.
So when the Ford government proposes education spending cuts in the form of increased average class sizes and mandatory online learning (possibly taught by uncertified teachers), the unions are coming back with a proposal to scrap EQAO to save money.
They say it could save more than $100 million in government spending. The government has said there should be changes but is not looking to cancel the tests even though a 2018 report they commissioned recommends phasing out the Grade 3 and Grade 9 tests, overhaul the Grade 6 test and cancel the Grade 10 test.
The upcoming Grade 9 math test is one that students are required to complete as part of their assessment, whereas the Grade 10 literary test is one students must pass in order to graduate from high school.
There are claims that the testing is an expensive duplication of assessment tools already in place and if saving money is the object, eliminating EQAO is an obvious choice.
To our knowledge, EQAO results do not serve the student directly. They are not an assessment tool used by universities. Post secondary education acceptance basically comes down to a student’s performance in the senior high school grades, and hopefully on their character and citizenship.
EQAO has been seen as a test for the educators. How well a school does in the results reflects on the education system as a whole. It has been pointed out to us on occasion that the results are tricky for small schools because the variants in a small pool can tip the scales of success on way or another.
To find results for any school in Ontario, there is an online School Information Finder tool at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/sift/. Hopefully people will see how difficult it is to gauge any real information about a school based on the results alone, which at first glance can be quite unflattering, when compared to the provincial average.

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