The Case Against EQAO

26 May

“They asked if I wanted to hold the “O”. My response was ‘Dude!! YOLO!!'”

This week thousands of grade 3 and 6 students in Ontario will write the annual EQAO tests. Many educators, parents and students understand this to be a “bad thing”. Unfortunately, like the weather, everybody talks about it but no body actually does anything about it.

Part of the reason I blog is to stand up for what I think is right, and I’ve done this repeatedly with respect to EQAO testing (insert picture of me selling a dead horse here). Because, after all, if a parent-educator with a blog can’t change the world with a few posts, then what’s the point? 🙂

Here, gathered together, are my EQAO related posts:

  • “Let’s Scrap EQAO”– March 23rd, 2012: “Texas educators have seen where emphasizing  testing takes us and the feedback isn’t positive. Let’s learn from them. Let’s get ahead of the curve and scrap EQAO now.”
  • “The Power of Ontario’s Provincial Testing Program”: My Initial Response– April 17, 2012: “Sixteen pictures of happy smiling children are scattered throughout the report. We have kids looking at globes, writing on blackboards, sharing jokes with teachers, etc. Only two of the pictures show kids that might be writing EQAO. Even the art director knew that writing tests isn’t fun.”
  • Why Standardized Testing Will Never Work“- November 7, 2012: “Standardized testing will never accurately assess learning because learning doesn’t work that way. Some things I teach my students this year won’t ‘click’ until later, when they are ready for them or when their minds open to them. Learning’s a complex and complicated process and can’t be accurately reduced to numbers. At some point we have to trust the learners. As my grandmother Hannah Green often reminded me, “a watched pot never boils, love”.”
  • Opting Out Of EQAO“- February 26, 2013: “Ontario parents want to know if and how they can withdraw their children from writing the EQAO test. Some parents feel that the stress and anxiety of EQAO is too much for their child, while others disagree with the standardized testing of children.”
  • Opting Out Of EQAO: One Parent’s Story“- March 26, 2013: “The data will be largely unused to increase the quality of education, but politicians and real estate agents will find the information indispensable.  All of this will cost the taxpayer, according to some sources, the low figure of $33 million a year.  Money well spent?  Hardly.”
  • Surefire Ways To Improve Your School’s EQAO Scores“- April 30, 2013: “Educators trying to improve EQAO scores might need assistance. Being a helpful sort I scoured the profiles of the top 15 EQAO schools to discover their Score Boosting Secrets!!!

7 Responses to “The Case Against EQAO”

  1. lisamnoble May 27, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

    Yup. We started grinding them through the machine today, and more this year than before, I really felt that. (Must be all the 21st century learning I’m learning about). Kids who really don’t enjoy my class were jokingly asking if they could come to French class, rather than write this morning. It was difficult to joke back with them, because my first thought would have been “you don’t have to write this thing, you know.” Was pleased to see that one family had booked holidays over our testing period.

    My older kidlet has chosen to write, and I cannot force him to opt out, because of my convictions. We’ll see how he feels after his first day, which I think is later this week.

    • colleenkr May 29, 2013 at 6:53 am #

      I never realized just how hard this whole process could be until this year. My daughter is in grade three and the anxiety is tearing her up. What an awful ordeal to put children through.

  2. Aviva Dunsiger (@avivaloca) May 29, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    Andrew, I always appreciate how you stand up for what you believe in. Sometimes I agree with you, and sometimes I don’t, but you never fail to make good arguments and listen to alternative points of view.

    As I write you back now, I’m looking at a group of 27 students that are all working their way through part of EQAO. As an educator, the hardest part for me is seeing students struggling and frustrated and not being able to guide them. I can’t answer their questions. I can’t rephrase the question. I can’t even respond to their questions with another good question that might help bring about understanding. These are all of the things that I’ve learned in inservices are good teaching strategies, and I can’t do any of them. This is what I find hard.

    I also feel upset about my students with special needs that are writing the same test as everyone else. Yes, these students are allows assistive technology or a scribe, but what about the use of anchor charts (since they have memory difficulties and cannot memorize formulas)? What about the elimination of higher level questions that they cannot answer because of language needs? What about the use of examples to help guide their understanding and allow for application? I can’t do any of these things. I know that the test is too difficult for them, but all I can say is, “try, do your best, and don’t worry about it.” This is what makes me sad today.


  3. Akanksha Gogi June 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    Grade 9s are also writing the EQAO. I would know.

    • ballacheybears June 12, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

      Different dynamic for the grade 9’s though. With grades on the line it’s harder to opt out.


  1. Standardized Testing: Teacher reflections on EQAO… | SheilaSpeaking - May 29, 2013

    […] The Case Against EQAO […]

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