The Department of Education is thirsty for data: It’s been two years since students took these tests because of the health context. Without the results of these exams, Ontario can barely quantify or estimate how far behind students across the province are.
† It is certain that there will be shortcomings. There will be a drop in results and a learning loss in students, but it won’t be a surprise. †
The director-general of the French-Ontarian Association of Catholic School Boards, Yves Lévesque, would have preferred to wait another year before resuming these exams, due to the high absenteeism that characterized the 2021-2022 school year.
He is not alone: several school boards have asked the government to postpone the exams until next year.
However, Education Secretary Stephen Lecce flatly refused, according to Scott Piatkowski, chairman of the Waterloo School Board.
He did not respond to us in writing but was adamant when asked about it in a conference call.
The standardized tests have been controversial since their inception in 1996. Some, such as Karen Brown, president of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, believe the process should be abolished.
OQRE ne sont pas de bons outils pour réellement comprendre ce qui se passe dans les salles de classe”,”text”:”Les examens de l’OQRE ne sont pas de bons outils pour réellement comprendre ce qui se passe dans les salles de classe”}}”>The reviews of theEQAO are not good tools to really understand what is happening in the classroomestimates who heads the union that represents the 83,000 primary school teachers in the province.
Kelly Gallagher-Mackay, an assistant professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, supports this observation.
It is not the ideal tool.she admits.
But what would be the alternative?
No data, no problem, no solutions
Gallagher-Mackay led the Education Sector Disruption Study for the Ontario Scientific Advisory Group on COVID-19.
One of the key recommendations of the study concerns the need for more data to understand the impact of the pandemic on students.
† We have no data in Ontario. We are lagging far behind, certainly in comparison with other regions and other countries. †
OQRE“,”text”:”En ce moment, le seul outil que nous avons pour avoir une image globale du système, c’est le test standardisé de l’OQRE”}}”>Right now the only tool we have to get a general idea of the system is the standardized test of:EQAOadds Professor Gallagher-Mackay.
However, she believes that it can also be done differently.
If every student has to take the test, couldn’t we consider taking a sample instead?
When the ministry suspended these tests at the start of the pandemic, it offered no other ways to collect data on student progress.she explains.
† We need data, otherwise we don’t know how big the problem is; and therefore the necessary resources and solutions. †
Claimed another year break
There have been so many absences, gaps and delays in teaching this yearcomplains Mrs Brown.
We want to use the remaining time in the school year to focus on the program.
It is a lot of extra pressure for teachers. They need to teach the program in less time while preparing students for testsshe argues.
Yves Lévesque agrees.
We demand a lot from the school system. There is really no respite for students, teachers and administrators.
Choosing to take the tests this year is a political decision, not an educational one.According to him.