Categories: Education

EQAO Testing Isn’t Just A Giant Waste Of Time—It’s Detrimental To Kids And Teachers

Towards the end of each year, thousands of children in Ontario participate in an activity that has absolutely no benefit to their education. No it’s not Crazy Hair Day (Crazy Hair Day is awesome.)

With a name like Education Quality and Accountability Office testing, how can I possibly say that this is pointless and even harmful? Who doesn’t want quality and accountability in education? Won’t somebody please think of the children? Of course, these are good things—but EQAO testing doesn’t achieve them.

If, like me, you think EQAO is a giant waste of time and resources, chances are you are a teacher or speak with one on a regular basis. I come from a long line of teachers. My family is filled with teachers. A large percentage of my friends are teachers. A big chunk of the moms in my 5,000+ member Facebook group are teachers. You see where I’m going with this. Precisely none of them think EQAO testing is worthwhile. In fact, the very mention of it sets them off. Want to hear a teacher rant? Just say EQAO. Play-based learning, common core math, homework—there is no subject that has ever had universal consensus amongst teachers, except for the pointlessness and frustration of EQAO testing.

But why? What do teachers know that we don’t? On the surface, it seems like a great tool. We can gauge how our kids are doing, how the school and teachers measure up. It’s all objective, and objective means fair, doesn’t it?

In the case of EQAO, it is that objectivity that makes it so fundamentally flawed. Students are tested against universal criteria, but students are not one size fits all. We have all heard that old adage that if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid. Universal EQAO testing simply means that the trees given to the menagerie of students are all the same height.

Several teachers voiced their frustrations that students who have Individual Education Plans in place, stating they are to be taught at and marked according to a grade one level, are being held to a grade six standard with the rest of their age cohort. The same is true of children who do not speak English. A child who is brand new to Canada is required to take the same test. The help offered to these students during the test is minimal or non-existent.

The scores of children with IEPs, children who are in the ESL program, and other children who would not normally be asked to take a test identical to that of children without special education requirements are weighted equally in the overall test results. What this means is that if you have a fantastic school with a fantastic special education program, they will almost certainly score lower than a school with a higher percentage of mainstream students, despite the quality of the school and the teachers within it. Students who do not take the test, for reasons ranging from a parent opting out, to illness, to test anxiety, are counted as zeros in the school and teacher averages.

If you are a fantastic teacher who happens to have five children with IEPs, seven children who are ESL students, two who were sick on the test and make up days, and one whose parents decided the test wasn’t worth the stress it put on their child, you will score low on the test results. Many experienced teachers score highly one year, and poorly the very next year. The likelihood that they suddenly became bad teachers seems low.

Many teachers resent the extra workload and increased pressure surrounding EQAO testing

Beyond the inaccuracy of the test results, and the stress it places on students, it is a staggering waste of resources. It isn’t just the millions of dollars spent each year—money that could greatly benefit a struggling school budget—but the waste of class time and resources. The test forces teachers to not only teach with the test in mind, giving them less flexibility to tailor their lessons to their individual class needs but also to finish 10 months worth of curriculum in nine months. During testing, students lose even more instruction time and, in some cases, access to areas of the school altogether. In the name of education quality, we are wasting millions of dollars, and a month’s worth of instruction time, to get results that don’t mean anything useful anyway. Good job, Ontario.

So what is the alternative? How do we know how our kids are doing, and measure the quality of their education? To find the answer to this, I did what the Ontario Government should have done a long time ago. I asked the teachers.

Unsurprisingly, they had very practical, cost effective solutions. First and foremost, talk to your child’s teachers and school administration. Allow for honest reporting, and open communication. Voice your concerns, and give teachers the freedom to voice theirs as well.

Have real world accountability for teachers who are not pulling their weight. Teachers receive in-house evaluations, they observe each other and are monitored by administration. This gives a far more accurate view of a teacher than arbitrary test percentages.

Allow teachers to do their jobs. They love their students, they want to see them succeed. They have their finger on the pulse of education, and they know what they are doing. We need to stop wasting their time and increasing their already over-burdened stress loads with roadblocks in the name of bettering education.

If you want better education for your children, start with a quality work environment for the teachers. Let them be heard. Listen to the people who are spending day in and day out with these kids. I promise you, they will not steer you wrong.

Heather Jones :

View Comments (1)

  • Gordana Stefulic While a principal at ECI insisted that we helped students with EQAO questions while they were writing. She said it was to improve the school's scores - which it did.

    Lori says:
    June 14, 2014 at 5:36 pm
    I hate the word ALLEGED when Gordy Stefulic was found guilty. It was this guilt that landed her at the TSAA where contact with students and parents was unlikely. Even there her incompetence is evident. At least Chris Bolton resigned.
    Grim Reaper says:
    April 17, 2016 at 1:27 pm
    Well she has also gone now.She has retired, living on a fantastic pension(eat your heart out those still working for minimum wages and holding down several such jobs just to pay rent) and following her hobbies until she passes on to the next world with a smile on her face.
    Karl says:
    June 11, 2017 at 12:22 pm
    According to ZOOM INFO her credentials have been quietly revoked as will whatever business licences she is using for her “goodies”.
    Former Student says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    July 28, 2017 at 12:12 pm
    According to everyone I asked about this woman I always got the same information. Gordana Stefulic was opinionated, non-supportive, inefficient, abhorrent abortive absurd acerbic acicular acrimonious acuminate antediluvian antipathetic antiquated apathetic arrogant asinine astringent audacious balmy banal bantam barren biting brassy brazen callous caustic comatose conniving contemptuous cool corrupt craven cunning dastardly debauched deceitful delusive derisive destitute detatched detestable dilly diminutive discourteous disdainful disgraceful disingenuous dispassionate disrelish disreputable disrespectful down-on-the-knucklebone droll drugged epigrammatic execrable facetious faint-hearted farcical fatuous feeble flimsy foolish foul fresh frivolous futile ghastly grizly guileful hardened hateful haughty hideous hypocritical idiotic ill-defined illogical immaterial immoral impassive imperceptible impertinent impervious impolite impotent impudent inane incognizant incomprehensible indifferent indistinct ineffectual inept inert insensate insensitive insignificant insincere insipid insolent insulting intrepid invidious irrational irrelevant laughable lesser Lilliputian lily-livered loathing lubricous ludicrous lunatic Machiavellian meaningless mercenary minor misleading monstrous mordant nasty negligible nonchalant nonsensical nugatory oblivious obscure obsolete offensive opprobious out-cold overbearing paltry parsimonious passionless peewee petty pointless pompous praetorian presumptuous prosaic purposless pusillanimous recreant ridiculous rude sanctimonious savorless scandalous scathing scornful senseless shady shameful shifty shocking sickening sinister slight sly sterile stupid superficial surfeit taunting trenchant trifling trivial unappreciative unavailing unaware unconscious underhanded unessential unimportant unknowing unnecessary unperceiving unresponsive useless vain vapid villainous vulgar worthless with an IQ of a grasshopper.
    In short she was as useless a 2 inch cock on Jonn Holmes

    Click to Edit –