Math con­tin­ues to be the is­sue in prov­ince-wide test­ing of stu­dents

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - VERON­ICA REINER

ON­TARIO STU­DENTS AS A whole are hold­ing steady in tests of read­ing and writ­ing, but con­tinue to strug­gle with math­e­mat­ics, the lat­est re­sults from the Ed­u­ca­tion Qual­ity and Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice (EQAO) show.

Lo­cal schools have tended to do some­what bet­ter, re­flect­ing an el­e­vated trend across the re­gion.

The EQAO’s large-scale as­sess­ment mea­sures the aca­demic per­for­mance of stu­dents in read­ing, writ­ing and math de­part­ments in Grades 3, 6, 9 and 10.

“There aren’t a lot of ex­treme changes from year to year,” said No­rah Marsh, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the EQAO. “But we did a see some de­cline this year, in par­tic­u­lar, in ele­men­tary math and the OSSLT, the Grade 10 lit­er­acy as­sess­ment.”

Of the lo­cal schools, Elmira Dis­trict Sec­ondary School per­formed par­tic­u­larly well, with 82 per cent of Grade 9 stu­dents in ap­plied math at or above pro­vin­cial stan­dards, and 93 per cent in aca­demic math at or above the pro­vin­cial stan­dard.

Other no­table ar­eas were Grade 6 writ­ing at St. Teresa of Avila, which scored 89 per cent, and Grade 3 writ­ing at Flo­radale Pub­lic School at 87 per cent.

There were some no­tice­able ar­eas for im­prove­ment, such as Flo­radale PS’ Grade 6 math at 46 per cent or math at John Ma­hood PS in Grade 6 with a score of 41 per cent. Par­tic­u­larly lower scor­ing cat­e­gories of all ages fol­lowed the pro­vin­cial trend – is­sues with math. How­ever, the ma­jor­ity of the lo­cal schools did quite well over­all on the EQAO tests.

This as­sess­ment is based on the col­lec­tive re­sults of the en­tire prov­ince of ev­ery age and as­sess­ment cat­e­gory. Five-year data re­sults are often viewed to get a bet­ter sense of an on­go­ing pat­tern.

“When we were look­ing at the five-year re­sults, we did flag Grade 6 math as well as the gap that con­tin­ues for stu­dents in aca­demic and ap­plied math in Grade 9,” said Marsh.

EQAO staff rec­om­mends that school boards use the re­sults of the per­son­al­ized re­port to iden­tify strengths as well as note which ar­eas can be im­proved upon.

“The aim of EQAO data is to con­tribute to con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment and ac­count­abil­ity in our ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem,” said Dave Cooke, chair of EQAO. “School trustees are ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for stu­dent achieve­ment, and EQAO re­sults are one of the tools they can use to in­form im­prove­ment plan­ning.”

“We pro­vide a bit of a pro­vin­cial land­scape to in­form pro­vin­cial di­a­logue,” added Marsh. “What we rec­om­mend for schools and dis­tricts is they take our re­sults, and they put it with the data they have lo­cally, more re­lated to stu­dent en­gage­ment and well-be­ing data so that they can cre­ate a com­pos­ite pic­ture what the ex­pe­ri­ence is for stu­dents is within their dis­trict or within their school.

“This way, ed­u­ca­tors can know where they need to fo­cus at­ten­tion most pre­dom­i­nantly, and where they have ar­eas that they can learn from re­gard­ing re­ally high suc­cess over time.”

For the Water­loo Re­gion Dis­trict School Board, re­sults mir­ror the pro­vin­cial stan­dard. Stu­dents did rel­a­tively well for all ages in the read­ing and writ­ing cat­e­gories, rang­ing from 63 to 79 per cent at or above the pro­vin­cial stan­dard while strug­gling in math. Math re­sults ranged from 41 to 57 per cent for Grades 3 and 6, and Grade 9 ap­plied, with a dras­tic in­crease in Grade 9 aca­demic math at 82 per cent.

EQAO has re­mained rel­a­tively the same over time, with the ques­tions ap­pear­ing on the as­sess­ment un­der­go­ing an ex­ten­sive field test­ing process.

“We take ex­pec­ta­tions from the cur­ricu­lum, and then we work with ed­u­ca­tors in On­tario,” ex­plained Marsh. “They’ll cre­ate ques­tions based on those ex­pec­ta­tions. Then the first stage of it is a cog­ni­tive lab which is just teach­ers and stu­dents work­ing with those test ques­tions and giv­ing us feed­back on them.

“If we get pos­i­tive feed­back and peo­ple re­spond well to them, then we put them out on the test as a field test item and see how it plays out across the prov­ince. If it plays out well, it will ap­pear on one of our as­sess­ments. It’s quite a lengthy process to have a ques­tion ap­pear on one of our as­sess­ments.”

Ques­tions are then re­viewed by a sen­si­tiv­ity com­mit­tee that en­sures the ques­tions are not un­in­ten­tion­ally alien­at­ing any stu­dents.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.