Large-scale, standards-based testing is not new for students, but the tests provide only a small “snapshot” in comparison to the more meaningful daily assessment that teachers plan for carefully in connection to their instructional delivery.
However, 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.
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.
EQAO has recently announced its plan to modernize its large-scale assessments. In the spring of 2022 Grade 3 and Grade 6 assessments move to a digital format. The transition to an online assessment platform has many implications for students and educators. Further investigation into the impact of online assessments and standardized tests is needed to fully understand the impact on student achievement.
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.
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 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; and
stronger focus on equity and inclusion.
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.