Peel board says EQAO tests should be suspended over concerns with math results

Peel board says EQAO tests should be suspended over concerns with math results

The Peel District School Board (PDSB) has asked the Ministry of Education to suspend EQAO testing for the 2017-18 school year due to concerns over the mathematics portion of the test.

At its meeting Tuesday, the board approved a motion requesting the suspension by a 7-5 vote. The PDSB is also requesting that all public school boards in Ontario join the call to suspend the test.

"We've been targeting math for three years very specifically, but we're still not making any progress with regard to that particular test," PDSB Chair Janet McDougald said Thursday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

"Why would we perform a test that we have no confidence in?" she added.

The request comes out of a "strong discrepancy" between the results of the provincially administered standardized test and the board's own report cards, according to the motion.

McDougald said the province's recent decision to review the EQAO system suggests the issues with the test are real.

"If the ministry is now accepting that there's a problem with this test and the curriculum, then let's suspend the test while the ministry does its work," she said.

Ontario reviewing EQAO

In September, Ontario announced a plan to modernize the public school curriculum, including changes to report cards, a new focus on life skills and a review of the EQAO.

At the time, Premier Kathleen Wynne acknowledged a specific issue with the math scores coming out of the test.

"What is going on?" she asked. "We're doing a lot of teacher training, there's a lot of support, but still, we're not seeing the improvement in achievement in math that we'd like to see."

Last year, only half of Grade 6 students met the EQAO's mathematics standard.

In response to the PDSB's request, Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter said the province would not suspend testing while the review takes place.

"During this review, it's important that parents are still receiving information about how their child is doing at school. That's why, EQAO will continue to provide relevant information to better support student achievement and well-being," Hunter said in a statement.

After hearing Hunter's response, McDougald dismissed the argument.

"I assure you our parents are well aware of how their children are doing in school," she said.

Parents question intentions

Meera Singh, a middle school council chair and parent of two children at the PDSB, disagreed with the motion.

"I've never heard any parents say they do not want their kids to be tested," she told CBC Toronto.

Singh says the poor scores in the EQAO's math section reflect an issue with the teaching being done at the board, and not the test itself.

"I do not see teachers integrating all these skills in teaching math," she said. "If they do it right now, there's nothing that's going to stop students from performing in the EQAO."

In casting blame on the test, Singh says the PDSB may be looking for some temporary relief from another year of disappointing scores.

"They do not want to be held accountable to the parents next year," she said. "They know the scores are already going to be low."

Singh says her school council would try to dissuade the board from suspending the tests, however McDougald would not say if the board will now refuse to administer the EQAO.