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Test results a mixed bag

Results from last year’s Grade 3, 6, and 9 EQAO assessments were mixed for both the Waterloo public and Catholic boards, as well as local schools.

The Education Quality and Accountability Office tests Grade 3 and 6 students on reading, writing and mathematics, and Grade 9 students on mathematics.

Across the province, 77 per cent of academic math students and 38 per cent of applied math students were at or above the provincial standard (Level 3 or 4).

Of Grade 3 students, 61 per cent were at or above the provincial standard for reading, 68 per cent for writing and 70 per cent for mathematics. Among Grade 6 students, 69 per cent met the standard for reading, 67 the standard for writing and 63 for mathematics.

Students in the Catholic board met or exceeded provincial results in seven of eight categories, and the five-year trend has been improvement in all areas. The most significant improvement came in the area of Grade 3 writing, where results are eight percentage points higher than five years ago.

Bruce Rodrigues, superintendent of instruction and assessment, said the Catholic board’s scores are not an accident; educators within the board have looked closely at previous assessment results and make changes to their teaching strategies accordingly.

“When we know that there are places that we can improve, we try to rally people together and try to create those high-yield strategies that affect student learning and provide significant gains.”

Locally, students at St. Clements Separate School beat provincial and board averages in all six categories, and improved over last year’s performance in five of six areas.

Results for St. Teresa School in Elmira were mixed, with students improving and outperforming their counterparts across the province in both Grade 3 and 6 writing but falling behind in reading and math.

The Waterloo Region District School Board also posted the biggest improvements in Grade 3 writing, with the percentage of students at the provincial average increasing seven percentage points over five years.

The public board has focused on writing skills, and Mary Lou Mackie, executive superintendent of education, was pleased to see an improvement in Grade 6 writing performance over the past few years.

“We still have some work to do; obviously we’re not at the provincial average for all of our results,” Mackie said.

Grade 9 math results for both academic and applied students were above the provincial averages. On the Grade 3 and 6 assessments, public board students were below provincial averages in four of six categories.

Locally, Riverside Public School and Park Manor Public School showed the biggest gains, with results well above board and provincial averages. Both schools also showed dramatic improvements over last year’s performance.

Schools that struggled included Wellesley Public School, where levels were below provincial averages in all six categories, with Grade 3 results generally declining over five years. At Floradale and Linwood Public Schools, Grade 3 reading and all Grade 6 categories were below provincial averages.

Mackie cautioned against reading too much into the numbers, noting that the results don’t measure the progress of individual students.

“You have to be careful how you use these results, because you’re not measuring the same cohort; it’s a different cohort of students each year. The whole concept is to improve over time so more and more of our students are reading, writing and performing in math at a high level.”

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario has once again2 come out against standardized tests, stating that the tests provide only one assessment at one point in time and the data are subject to misuse and misinterpretation.

With files from Katie Edmonds.


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