Area schools showed mixed results in test scores released Wednesday by the Educational Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO).
The province-wide testing was administered to both the public and Catholic school boards and was delivered to Grade 3 and 6 students to assess reading, writing and math skills, while Grade 9 students were tested on math to determine how many met the provincial standards.
Here in Waterloo Region, the Catholic school system performed as well as or better than the public board across all categories, save for Grade 9 academic math where 84 per cent of public school students met the provincial standard, compared to 81 per cent of Catholic students.
Elmira District Secondary School continued its reputation for strong scores, as the school surpassed board and provincial averages for both applied and academic math by a combined 34 per cent.
The applied scores were particularly strong, with 71 per cent of students meeting the provincial requirement for applied math – compared to 42 per cent province-wide.
“On the whole I think we did quite well, specifically in the applied math courses” said Doug McKlusky, a vice-principal at EDSS who is responsible for EQAO testing at the school, adding that the math department does a good job of preparing the students but that they also include some added incentive to the testing.
Up to 10 per cent of their final grade is tied to their performance on the EQAO math test.
“The kids know that from the very first day so they do tend to take it seriously, and they find provincially that schools who count it as part of the final evaluation the kids do better.”
The school’s performance is a slight regression from last year when 90 per cent of students met the academic curriculum standards and 76 per cent met the applied standards, but McKlusky isn’t too concerned.
“It fluctuates, but the trend over the past few years has been going up,” he said.
For Grade 3 students across the province, 65 per cent were at or above the provincial standard for reading, 73 per cent for writing, and 69 per cent for math. In Grade 6, 74 per cent met the standard for reading, 73 per cent for writing, and 58 per cent for math.
Those scores are all an increase over last year except for math, which saw a two point drop in Grade 3 and a three point drop among Grade 6s.
In the region, it’s a mixed bag of results for elementary school students, with some schools showing dramatic improvements over last years scores, and others showing sharp declines.
For example, at Wellesley Public School Grade 3 students performed below the provincial average in all three categories, achieving a 51 per cent in reading, a 57 per cent in writing and 54 per cent in math, yet the Grade 6 class was at or above the provincial average in all three subjects.
That is a trend familiar to the school, particularly with its rural setting, and students who perform poorly in Grade 3 tend to show dramatic improvements in just three years.
“By Grade 6 they are showing much more evidence of being able to be successful with provincial achievement,” said LeeAnne Andriessen, the principal of Wellesley PS.
That improvement is evident by comparing the current Grade 6 class scores to their scores when they were in Grade 3.
“When they were in Grade 3 they were very, very low. In the 40s and the 30s in reading, writing and math. What that shows is with a little more time we can reduce that gap, and that is very important to us.”
Andriessen said that was one of the purposes of the test, to identify which students need extra attention and to help them improve on those basic skills. She said the focus should be less on the year-to-year scores and more on comparing scores from Grade 3 to 6 to 9 to truly understand the progress made.
The EDSS VP added that score fluctuations are normal from year to year and from school to school, and the important thing is for the scores to trend upwards.
“Each year you get a different batch of kids and different situations, and it’s difficult to compare from school to school too. For me, personally, I think it’s better to look at your own results.”
Provincially, more than 124,000 Grade 3s and 130,000 Grade 6 students were evaluated by the EQAO test, while more than 140,000 Grade 9 students in the province were also evaluated.
A comprehensive report on every school’s performance across the province is available at the EQAO website, www.eqao.com.