26 June 2024
A Call to End Grade 9 Math EQAO

An open letter to all Ontario taxpayers and families;

Millions of our tax dollars are being wasted each year on the Grade 9 EQAO math testing. I would like to draw attention to this fact and make a call for the testing to be halted or dramatically revamped to the benefit of our students. My somewhat unique access as a Grade 9 math teacher the last few years provides me with insights that I must share with the taxpaying public.

According to the Education Quality and Accountability Office’s (EQAO) own website, they are tasked with, among other things, “empowering educators, parents, … with the insights and information needed to support student learning and improve student outcomes.” I argue that the Grade 9 EQAO Math test is a spectacular failure with respect to this goal. From my perspective, it appears to provide zero benefit to any students and instead is a complete waste of taxpayer’s money.

--- EQAO Background ---

Since the late 90s, EQAO, a government funded entity, has been creating and administering “standardized” tests written by students in grades 3, 6, 9 and 10. The Grade 9 test is in mathematics only. While I have never liked the amount of money and time that goes into the administration of these tests, I have always valued the test content in supporting my understanding of what the province’s standard is for Grade 9 math. Recently, there were substantial changes made to the Grade 9 math testing which have left me, and many other educators, feeling that there is no longer any value provided in administering the tests.

--- The new Math test is no longer standardized ---

In September 2022, the Ontario government rolled out a new Grade 9 mathematics curriculum, and alongside it, a new EQAO math test structure that all grade 9 students in the province would have to undertake during their math courses. The mathematics assessment is now administered online, using an “adaptive” model, meaning the online test essentially looks for areas a child struggles and offers them easier problems. "Did you get that fraction problem wrong? Here’s a much easier one for you to do. There, now you are passing."

Since the test adapts to each participant, the results can no longer be compared from student to student, let alone from school to school. Some families use EQAO data when choosing a school or neighbourhood to move into, which is dependent on the standardized and comparable nature of the assessment. Yet, quietly that has changed and I’m not sure people are aware of it.

--- Students do not fail the Grade 9 Math EQAO ---

The new math test seems to always give students a passing grade. Every math educator I have spoken with has found the same result: every student earns at least a Level 1 (out of 4), with Level 3 being the provincial standard. A level 1 corresponds to a 50-59% score, which is a passing grade.

There is a category for “Not enough evidence to assign a Level 1,” but even still, this category remains rarely or completely unused. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence from math teachers I’ve spoken with which describe situations where students who struggled to earn 30% in class throughout their math course were able to “earn” a Level 1 or even Level 2 on the EQAO assessment, even if they completed the 150 minute assessment in under 20 minutes. Perhaps the students hid their understanding from their teachers very well; perhaps EQAO wants to create false data to support their own existence; or perhaps the government wants false data created to show how successful their new curriculum is (which it really isn’t – though that is separate conversation).

--- Neither Teachers nor Students receive any useful feedback ---

The only feedback received from EQAO is a single grade per student, often very disconnected from what the student can demonstrate in the classroom. As educators, we are given no indication what concepts the student demonstrated success in, or even what kinds of math questions they were asked. There is no way we can use this data to affect any kind of change or improvement in our programming. There is no way the students can use this data to inform them in what areas of math they can improve. Remember EQAO’s goal of “empowering educators … with the insights and information needed to support student learning and improve student outcomes.”?

On top of adding no value, the testing actually takes away from each student’s learning experience. The testing typically requires about 4 hours of instructional time to administer, although students are allowed to take as much time as they want. Instead of spending this time teaching, or doing one on one conferences with students, or any of the other things we can do to support learning, teachers watch students click through a multiple choice test… and learn nothing. We give EQAO an F in meeting their goal. If teachers gave students feedback the way EQAO did, we would surely fail our teaching evaluations. Somehow, they managed to take the “Accountability” (A), the “Quality” (Q), and even some “Education” (E) out of EQAO. I cannot understand why, as taxpayers, we are paying for this.

--- EQAO is expensive ---

According to EQAO’s 2022-23 annual report, the cost of agency operations last year was $25.35 million . I’m not sure how much of that money is specifically connected to the math assessment, but at a time when education funding has been reduced by 2.7 billion dollars (since 2018, considering student enrollment and inflation ), it doesn’t seem appropriate to be throwing away millions. There are healthier ways this wasted money could be spent in the education system.

We cannot rely on Grade 9 Math EQAO for anything to do with Quality or Accountability. There is no value provided to students, educators or the public at large, at great expense to the taxpayer.

Please join us in reaching out to your local MPP to ask the government to scrap the Grade 9 Math EQAO test. Our education funding is scant and therefore precious; it must be used to help students in tangible ways, not undermine our children’s education or provide false data about that education.

78 verified
  1. Mark Cannata, Teacher, York Region District School board, Aurora
  2. Danielle Rasu-Park, teacher, yrdsb, aurora
  3. Teodora Kosmajac, Math teacher, YRDSB, Aurora
  4. Niloufar Sharifi, Teacher, YRDSB, Thornhill
  5. Owen Ferguson, Occasional Teacher, DDSB, Whitby
  6. Leyla Zarrion, Math Teachrr, YRDSB, Aurora
  7. Julia Lucas, Teacher, YRDSB, Richmond Hill
  8. Sobia Ahmed, Teacher, YRDSB, North York
  9. Ashley Richardson, Teacher, YRDSB, Newmarket
  10. Jyoti Patel, Teacher, YRDSB, Maple
  11. Miriam Wong, Teacher, YRDSB, Richmond Hill
  12. Eric Tang, Teacher, YRDSB, Markham
  13. Jessica Heisler, Teacher, YRDSB, Whitby
  14. Sharon lee, Teacher, High school teacher, Markham
  15. Jasmine Bamford, Teacher, Markam Stouffville Girls Hockey Association, Whitchurch-Stouffville
  16. Ashley Ventrella, Teacher, YRDSB, Thornhill
  17. Iain Um, Math Teacher, YRDSB, Newmarket
  18. Paolo Fortini, Teacher, YRDSB, Thornhill
  19. Brian Kim, Teacher, YRDSB, Richmond Hill
  20. Brad MacIntosh, Math Dept Head, YRDSB, Aurora
  21. Grace Baik, teacher, YRDSB, North York
  22. Katie Martin, Teacher, York Region District School Board, Thornhill
  23. GayleAnne Ball, Teacher, YRDSB, Aurora
  24. Amanda DeBono, Teacher, YRDSB, Thornhill
  25. Emily O'Connor, Teacher, YRDSB, Newmarket
  26. Nicole Payne, Teacher, YRDSB, Newmarket
  27. Christine Huang, Teacher, York Region District School Board, Richmond Hill
  28. Julia Rebelo, Teacher, YRDSB, Markham
  29. Heidi Cordner, Teacher, YRDSB, Newmarket
  30. Kaitlin Brown, Teacher, YRDSB, Aurora
  31. Stephanie Cannata, Teacher, York Region District School Board, Aurora
  32. Karen Yong, Teacher, YRDSB, Aurora
  33. shima bimajal, Teacher, YRDSB, Aurora
  34. Miranda Wheatstone, Teacher, YRDSB, Woodbridge
  35. David Quon, Teacher, YRDSB, Markham
  36. Rachel Young, Teacher, York Region District School Board, Markham
  37. Amanda Monte, Teacher, YRDSB, Markham
  38. Yunjung Oh, Teacher, YRDSB, Markham
  39. Kazem Mohammadi, Teacher, YRDSB, Markham
  40. Dana Deuitch, retired teacher, Newmarket
  41. Katie Goodman, teacher, YRDSB, Newmarket
  42. Melissa Stallone, Math Teacher, YRDSB, Thornhill
  43. Edward Law, Markham
  44. Agnes Yuen, Teacher, YRDSB, Markham
  45. Andrew Shin, Teacher, YRDSB, Richmond Hill
  46. Liubov Chulkova, Teacher, YRDSB, Markham
  47. Daniela Panacci, Teacher, York Region District School Board, Aurora
  48. Steven Shi, Teacher, YRDSB, Richmond Hill
  49. Carmen Sinatra, Teacher, yrdsb, Newmarket
  50. Megan Woo, Teacher, YRDSB, Markham
  51. Nicole Kraljevic, Teacher, YRDSB, Richmond Hill
  52. Georgia Vamvakitis, Teacher, YRDSB, Toronto
  53. Victoria Callas, Teacher, YRDSB, Richmond Hill
  54. Maggie Ho, Teacher, Markham
  55. Carina Park, Teacher, YRDSB, Richmond Hill
  56. Valeria Daskalov, Teacher, YRDSB, Newmarket
  57. Sarah Molent, teacher, YRDSB, woodbridge
  58. Alice Moon, Teacher, YRDSB, Thornhill
  59. Joyce Wong, High School Math Teacher, YRDSB, Thornhill
  60. Mirela Mileti, Teacher, YRDSB
  61. Gina Kim, Teacher, York Region District School Board, Aurora
  62. Marc Nimigon, Teacher, YRDSB, North York
  63. Sammy Giraldi, Math Teacher, YRDSB, Thornhill
  64. Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick, Teacher, NNDSB, North Bay
  65. Emily Lioktsis, Teacher, YRDSB, Thornhill
  66. Natalie Ko, Math teacher, Yrdsb, Richmond Hill
  67. Christina Salvatore, Math teacher, YRDSB, Richmond Hill
  68. Elene Sgouromitis, Teacher, TDSB, Toronto
  69. Stewart Chan, Teacher, York Refion District School Board, Markham
  70. Mark Kassil, Teacher, YRDSB, Thornhill
  71. John Gatti, Teacher, YRDSB, Woodbridge
  72. Elham Jmemari, Teacher, YRDSB, Richmond hill
  73. Mark Shim, Teacher, YRDSB, Richmond Hill
  74. Bo Veale, Teacher, YRDSB, Aurora
  75. Chloe Chan, Student, YRDSB, Markham
  76. LeeAnn Potter, Administrative Assistant, Concerned Parent, Richmond Hill
  77. Elesha Tsui, Math Teacher, YRDSB, Markham
  78. Barbara Skoneczny, Teacher, Ldcsb, Woodstock
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