Now, as the EQAO results are being released for 2014-2015, there will be no new information to update until next Fall. Depending on which side of the argument you fall on this can be seen as a very good thing or a very bad thing.
Defending the EQAO
This isn’t always the most popular topic as opponents of the standardized testing carry a much bigger voice on the matter, but I think it’s important to look at both sides of the issue.
Proponents of the EQAO will point to the objective data that the tests provide. For instance, here’s head of the EQAO Bruce Rodrigues on the assessments given to students in Grade 3, 6 and 9:
“For parents, I think they’ll be deprived of good, valuable, objective information about how their son or daughter is doing.”
Meanwhile, education minister Liz Sandals said testing is “an important assessment for students, parents, educators, and the public as we work to close the student achievement gap in Ontario.”
Going Beyond Corporate Speak
The EQAO and the Ontario government are going to answer in politically correct ways, but is there any practical use for the $32 million testing?
Well, sure, it’s certainly important to have the ability to measure how a system is performing and to ensure that those who are struggling with the core concepts (literacy and numeracy) can be identified on not only an individual but a cohort basis as well.
There’s also the argument that standardized testing and learning how to write exams is part of the Canadian school system and is something that children will encounter as they enter the secondary and post-secondary systems.
There are definitely arguments to be made for the benefits of standardized testing but where the opponents of the testing come in is in its execution.
The Argument Against Standardized Testing
The biggest argument against standardized testing is something that even I’ve argued despite publishing the rankings and that’s that the testing does not paint the entire picture of a school or neighbourhood.
I personally publish the rankings in an easily digestible way because there is a demand for it. However, I always stress that rankings and scores are not the be all and end all of a school’s culture and shouldn’t be the only factor in your choice of a neighbourhood in Mississauga or surrounding areas in the GTA.
In a system like this there are a few factors at play that can affect testing
First, there is the inherent want to compete. This can lead to focusing teaching for weeks on how to write the test versus actual learning concepts. Again, you could make the argument that focused teaching on testing isn’t necessarily bad but does it need to begin in Grade 3? Or maybe it should.
Another issue, and the one I bring up the most, is that score results generally reflect the affluence of a neighbourhood. Simply put, schools with children from families with higher incomes and more education outperform those from lower incomes and lower educations.
This isn’t a surprising fact and is one of the arguments against the testing. Opponents argue that all the testing does is serve to embarrass children and teachers from more disadvantaged schools. Meanwhile, proponents would argue that these tests help identify those areas and students and the learning strategies can be adjusted to further help those students.
How Should I Feel About This?
As I always say it’s best to try and understand both sides of the issue before making a decision. But, I think the most important thing is to realize that people are just trying to work to improve things in the province, at schools and at home.
If you take that mentality or approach to your child’s education, they will turn out just fine. And, to keep this topic more relevant to my personal website, take this approach when deciding where to live in Mississauga or other places in the GTA.
What’s most important is looking at many factors when making the decision to move. I can’t stress that enough. Your child’s happiness in their new community and school will definitely come down to more than a test score, so read this site, do your homework and contact me with any questions!