EQAO scores prompt adjustments at schools
By Jenn Watt
Standardized test results for school boards and individual schools were released on Sept. 25 giving teachers and administrators an indication of where students are succeeding in academics and where more work needs to be done.
Trillium Lakelands District School Board issued a press release highlighting improvements in test scores for the 2018-2019 school year in math for high school students, with both applied and academic scores higher than last year and higher than the provincial scores.
Scores for special needs students have had a dramatic increase of 17 per cent in academic and three per cent in applied.
“Students with special needs outperformed the province in Grades 3, 6, and 9 in all areas except for writing,” TLDSB communications staff reported.
The board noted that there was a decline in writing scores at the Grade 3 level, which has prompted additional attention.
Schools within Haliburton County had varied results.
Archie Stouffer Elementary School saw an increase in the number of students at or above the standard for math in Grade 3 with 48 per cent, up from 44 the previous year. Thirty per cent of students in Grade 3 met the standard in writing; 52 per cent for reading.
Grade 6 scores were a bit higher, with 58 per cent at or above the provincial standard in math; 78 per cent meeting the standard in writing; and 85 per cent in reading. In all three categories, the percentage of Grade 6 ASES students meeting the standard was higher than the percentage for TLDSB.
J.D. Hodgson Elementary School had a decrease in the number of Grade 6 students at or above the provincial standard in math dropping from 44 per cent in 2017-2018 to 30 per cent in 2018-2019. Numbers were stable for writing (72 per cent) and reading (74 per cent).
Stuart Baker Elementary School scores declined in all three categories from last year. Thirty-seven per cent of Grade 3 students met or exceeded the standard in math; 43 per cent in writing; and 60 per cent in reading.
Cardiff Elementary School, which had 13 Grade 3 students last year, had 15 per cent meet the provincial standard in math; 31 per cent in writing; and 31 per cent in reading.
At Wilberforce Elementary School, a quarter of Grade 6 students met the provincial standard in math; 67 per cent in writing; and 58 per cent in reading. There were 12 Grade 6 students at WES last year.
At the high school, 69 per cent of students were successful on their literacy test compared to 71 per cent in TLDSB and 80 per cent in the province. The literacy test is taken in Grade 10. In applied math, 46 per cent of Grade 9 HHSS students met the provincial standard and in academic, 85 per cent met the standard.
Superintendent of learning Katherine MacIver said results from the Education Quality and Assessment Office, or EQAO, are one tool among many that educators have in assessing how students are doing.
“We remember that EQAO is a snapshot. It’s a short period of time and a timed assessment, so we should also be looking at report card data, there’s a lot more to the evaluation of a student than just one assessment,” she said.
EQAO can provide the board with detailed information about some of the questions and student responses, which allows the schools to make adjustments where necessary.
“It’s useful to our [Grade] 4 and 7 and Grade 10 teachers right now because those [assessments] are some of the students they’re teaching and they can look back at what skills they did well on and where they needed improvement,” MacIver said. The tests were taken last year, so teachers for the subsequent grades now have those students in their classrooms. “For the primary assessment, our teachers are looking sort of over time over a number of different years of the assessment. Are we having the same issue? Are we seeing any trends in how students are doing on individual questions or individual topics? That sort of thing.”
Parents are given feedback from EQAO as well regarding proficiency in specific skills.
Results also prompt the board to make adjustments, MacIver said.
“We are looking at how we allocate resources and whether they be funding for materials, whether they be coaches that support classroom teachers and so we’ve also assigned some of those resources to schools where there’s a need,” she said.
In math, she said the board is pleased to see the improvements at the high school level.
“We’re reassured by those Grade 9 results and actually I would say quite proud, especially of our applied level results of our student performance there, but we also know that’s one measure, one assessment and we take it in relation to credit accumulation, marks, all those other pieces that tell the story about how our students are learning,” she said.
Writing scores boardwide have declined six per cent for Grade 3 students, which will be addressed, a press release from TLDSB says.
“We will continue to have high expectations for our students and for our staff as we continue our work in the development and student improvement in fundamental math skills,” Larry Hope, director of education, said in a press release. “However we know we cannot lose sight of our literacy skills development, especially for our youngest learners.”