On Monday morning, just over a week before the start of another school year, the Education Quality and Accountability Office released the highlights of student achievement on its provincial EQAO testing, and while big gains have been made in reading and writing, math scores continue to stagnate.
The standardized test is administered province-wide every June to Grade 3 and 6 students for reading, writing and math, while Grade 9 students are tested on applied and academic-level math.
In the past five years, the number of Grade 3 reading at or above the provincial standard has risen from 62 per cent in 2007 to 65 per cent this past year, and the number of Grade 6 students achieving those same results rose from 64 per cent in 2007 to 74 per cent this year.
Writing scores are also up among those students, from 64 per cent in 2007 for Grade 3s to 73 per cent now, and up from 61 per cent for Grade 6 students in 2007 to 73 per cent.
Math scores in the primary levels, however, continue to lag and that has some educators concerned. The past five years has seen no change in the percentage of Grade 3 math scores meeting or exceeding the provincial standard (58 per cent), while the number of students in Grade 6 meeting or exceeding has shown a steady regression in the past few years as the standard fell to 58 per cent this year compared to 59 per cent in 2007 and 61 per cent last year.
These poor math results points out a glaring issue that will require continued attention from Ontario’s school system, the group reported.
“This should be a call to action for the education system as a whole,” said Dr. Brian Desbiens, chair of the EQAO’s board of directors. “It is clear from the gains in literacy that much can be accomplished through focused attention and interventions […] This attention must now be applied to improving math achievement.”
In Grade 9 level math courses, students in both the academic and applied stream continue to make consistent gains. Over the past five years, the percentage of students at or above the provincial standard rose from 71 per cent to 83 per cent in the academic courses, and from 35 per cent to 42 per cent in the applied courses.
EQAO continues to track the progress of students in math throughout the three provincial tests, and this year examined the group of students who advanced from Grade 3 in 2005 to Grade 6 in 2008 and to Grade 9 in 2011.
Their analysis showed that students who met the provincial average early in their schooling were mostly likely to maintain that high achievement through to high school. For example, of the nearly 57,000 students enrolled in Grade 9 academic math courses in 2011 who met the standard in both Grade 3 and 6, 92 per cent also met the standard in Grade 9.
“Ontario’s province-wide tests […] provide a valuable measure of the effectiveness of public education and identify benchmarks for improvement,” said Marguerite Jackson, the CEO of EQAO. “Our tracking analysis shows a clear link between success in elementary schools and success in later grades.”
On Sept. 14 the results for each school board and individual school across Ontario will be made available, and schools will then be allowed to publicly discuss their results.
All information will be available on the EQAO website once it is made public, www.eqao.com.