The Keewatin-Patricia District School Board is continuing to work and lobby the provincial government to reform standardized testing for students in the district.

Earlier this year, Director of Education Sean Monteith and the KPDSB were host to representatives from the Education Quality and Accountability Office to tour local schools and meet with leadership in the community. Students and staff were able to share their experiences with education in the region, specifically the provincial standardized tests.

Monteith says that the assessments could be more reflective of northwestern Ontario, and some of the standardized test’s questions don’t have any relevance for students in the region.

“The focus of their visit was to address and see first-hand that provincial assessments that are urban-centric, do not fit northwestern Ontario. I will not accept that we must conform to urban-centric experiences, when our students do not have lived-experiences from Toronto.”

In particular, Monteith noted that one of the questions on the EQAO test is to describe the experience of riding on an escalator in Toronto’s Sheraton Centre, which many students in the region have difficulty describing.

“They have to change. We don’t have to change. To test them at a high-stakes level, about experiences that they have never had, it’s absurd. It’s ethically-wrong. We’re not going to conform. The changes will be made, and that includes cultural-sensitivity.”

While Monteith hopes to see more Indigenous culture and history represented in the provincial test, he says that he also hopes to see northern culture added as well. He noted that during the delegation’s tour, none of the representatives from Toronto could identify a mineshaft in Red Lake, where students in the area would easily do so.

Monteith adds that the process to change the tests will be a long-one, and admittedly can test his patience. He estimates that the changes may take few years to be implemented, however he sees some positivity and hope in the process - as the need for change has now been identified and outlined.

“In light of our commitment to modernizing EQAO assessments, our team was eager to learn more about realities and experiences in Northern Ontario,” said Dr, Steven Reid, Chief Assessment Officer for EQAO, following the delegation’s tour of KPDSB schools.

“It is important to offer all students across Ontario equitable opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and skills, and EQAO gained valuable insights in speaking with KPDSB students, staff and community members. EQAO’s commitment to the future will reflect learnings from our visit, and we will continue to listen to perspectives from across the province as we develop assessments that are more student-focused, easily accessible and engaging.”

The Education Quality and Accountability assessment tests Grades 3 and 6 students in reading, writing and mathematics, Grade 9 applied and academic mathematics, as well as results for the Grade 10 Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. The results track the percentage of students at or above the provincial standard. 

Last month, the board released their ‘historic’ results for the board’s EQAO scores. Comparing scores in 2016-2017 to this past year’s results, Grade 3 students saw a 8 per cent improvement in reading, a 9 per cent improvement in writing, and a 4 per cent improvement in mathematics. In Grade 6, students saw a 2 per cent improvement from 2016-2017, and an 8 per cent decrease in mathematics. 

For more information:
Historic results for KPDSB’s EQAO scores
Monteith tackling EQAO discrepancies

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