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Education and Quality Assurance Office

The Education Quality and Accountability Office, called EQAO, is an independent agency that creates and administers large-scale assessments to measure Ontario students’ achievement in reading, writing and math at key stages of their education. Students in grades 3, 6, 9 and 10 are assessed.

The EQAO provides reports on the achievement of school boards, schools, individual students and the Ontario publically-funded school system as a whole.

Measurement and limitations

These data are intended to be used to improve school programming and classroom instruction. The assessment is done at regular intervals to shed light on trends from year to year.

The assessment is standardized: all students receive the same tests and are evaluated in the same way. It is a criterion-referenced assessment. All EQAO assessments are developed by Ontario educators to align with The Ontario Curriculum. The assessments evaluate student achievement objectively and in relation to a common provincial standard.

The results are reported as the proportion of testees who meet the prescribed standard. This is interpreted by some like the standard percentage score a student receives on an examination.

In recent times scores in some domains have gone down. The math scores have been diminishing year by year for several years. The Ministry has made adjustments intended to deal with the issue, but scores have not bounced back.

There has been criticism of the testing over the years and some want to do away with it entirely.

Some claim that it unclear who is being assessed. If the students don’t do well, should we fault the school, the school board, or the teachers? No one wants to blame the students.

As the assessment is treated as more and more significant, it becomes more and more important for the classes and the schools to do well. Hard-pressed teachers may adopt coping strategies such as teaching-to-the-test or encouraging parents to keep under-achieving students at home on the day of the test.

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