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EQAO Testing


The following video was produced in 2010 and is ETFO's most popular video ever.

Is EQAO Failing Our Children

Many teachers have reservations about the wide-scale use of standardized tests. But the government mandates their use across Ontario in grades 3, 6, and 9 to test all children's literacy and numeracy. Teachers feel that classroom-based assessment by teachers is the best source of information about student learning.


​Large-scale Testing in Ontario

Large-scale, standards-based testing is not new for students. For many years, elementary and secondary students have taken part in testing at all levels – provincially, nationally, and internationally. Over the past fifteen years, the amount of testing in our schools has increased. This is largely because successive governments have viewed large-scale assessments as tools to monitor a few select variables.

EQAO Established

In 1996, the government established the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) to

  • design new tests for grades 3, 6, 9, 10 in reading, writing and mathematics;
  • manage the administration of these tests;
  • report the results to the public; and
  • collect data to help determine the effectiveness of Ontario’s education system.

Since its creation, the EQAO has faced a great deal of criticism, particularly on the issues of security, timelines, validity of the tests, and uses of the data. This pressure narrows the curriculum and leads to a disproportionate focus on literacy and numeracy at the expense of science and technology, social studies, the arts, and physical education.

The EQAO’s most recent annual report indicates expenses of approximately $30 million. And individual boards spend more. Think about what that money could do if it were spent on education instead:

  • smaller classes in all grades
  • more support for special needs students
  • greater access to specialist teachers
  • more meaningful student assessment
  • stronger focus on equity and inclusion

Teachers Know Students Best

When it comes to assessing the learning of the whole child, teachers know best. Teachers know that classroom assessments are at the heart of good teaching and student learning. Classroom assessments are invaluable because they

  • support student learning;
  • assess the whole child;
  • measure a variety and levels of skills;
  • determine student progress;
  • take into account contextual factors that may affect results;
  • are appropriate and responsive to student learning needs; and
  • incorporate authentic forms of assessment that are aligned with the curriculum.

Standardized Tests Don’t Ensure Accountability

Parents want to know how their children are doing at school on an ongoing basis. Do the EQAO tests help? Elementary teachers feel strongly that large-scale assessments such as the EQAO’s grade 3 and 6 tests do not give parents a true picture of their child’s progress.

  • During the tests, students cannot interact with their teachers or other students. This is not a normal or healthy classroom experience;
  • Multiple choice tests don’t accurately assess student knowledge, critical thinking ability, or many of the other skills and knowledge outlined in the provincial curriculum;
  • The tests don’t assess the whole child or the whole curriculum;
  • The tests provide only one assessment; good program decisions require many assessments;
  • Test data do little to provide real help to students, parents, or schools;
  • Resources used to create, administer, and mark the tests would be better spent supporting students and teachers in the classroom; and
  • The Fraser Institute publishes the “School Report Card” each year based on the EQAO results. This results in schools being ranked without important background information about factors contributing to the results. Real estate agents are also known to misuse this data and information.

The tests are a small “snapshot” in comparison to the daily more meaningful assessment that teachers plan carefully for in connection to their instructional delivery.

Helping Students Survive the EQAO Test

When your children write the tests, help them cope with the process by telling them to relax and just do the best they can. The test isn’t about their progress; it’s about the education system. If your children are worried about the test, talk to their teachers.

Much more important than how children do on tests is how they learn. You can help your children learn.

  • Engage them in conversations about school and what they have learned;
  • Take advantage of opportunities to talk to your children’s teachers about their day-to-day learning and about their progress;
  • Remind your children that what they learn and how they feel about school are the most important things;
  • Be interested in what they care about, in their school, and in their social, emotional, and academic growth. Read with them, play with them, and learn with them.

There is a better way. Your union and other teacher unions are advocating that the EQAO

  • adopt a random sampling – rather than census-based (every grade 3 and 6 student, province-wide) – approach to standardized testing;
  • rein in the scope of the testing and place higher value on teacher professional judgement and daily classroom-based assessment;
  • exert renewed, consistent, and sustained effort to reframe and reshape the public perception about the merits of standardized tests and the narrow value of their results; and
  • find less costly (in terms of time, resources, and money) means to collect data that can soundly inform policy decisions and contribute to improvements in students learning.

If you are concerned about EQAO testing and the impact of test results on education in Ontario, contact your MPP and your school board.