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Stressful Time

Matt Galloway spoke about the EQAO tests, with Owen McDermott. He is a teacher at Valley Park Middle School.
Listen audio (runs 7:27)

Audience letters:

We make a very big deal over standardised tests. I believe that the source of any stress in children is a result of this. But my daughter was never stressed, and here is why:

Over ten years ago, I was concerned that my daughter would not do well in mathematics. At the time were stories about how girls had lower success in math, so I began to tutor her in the subject when she started Grade 1.

When she was in Grade 10, we had just finished a year of trigonometry and began the calculus using a university-level textbook (written by a Toronto author). We progressed at a modest, leisurely pace, doing all of the questions in the text. Now in Grade 11, she has advanced to implicit differentiation, which is part way through the second chapter of the book. I do not consider my child to be more than average, but I did want her to understand math even though it does not appear that it will play any role in her future career (she wants to be in musical theatre and is studying at one of the schools for the arts in Toronto). Spending time with her in this manner has also been a refresher course for me, although my daughter is doing all of the work.

It took a while for the benefit of this to be realised in her mind, but last October as her class was in the midst of learning trigonometry following the Ontario curriculum, my daughter paid me the highest compliment ever: She told me that she finally understood what a skill all the extra math had given to her when she knew what the teacher was going to say in her trigonometry lessons before the teacher said it. Now she knows that the slope can be rise over run, the tangent of the angle between a tangent line and a horizontal line, the limit at the point where the slope is to be measured, or the first derivative of a function.

I do not know how far we will get by the time she finishes Grade 12 and we end these extra math lessons. I do hope that she retains this understanding of mathematics so that when others take pride in their professed lack of mathematical skill, all she has to do is smile. Perhaps one day, when she has her own children, she may remember the time we spent together and will start to teach her own children math too. At least she will know that contrary to popular belief, math is not a difficult subject to master. Like anything else, it just takes practise and a willingness to do the work.
-John Banka

I am hearing a number of people saying that the EQAO testing is about schools and teachers, and that it is optional for students. In fact, although the results do not affect the students' report card marks, the EQAO results are retained by the ministry and school boards. They become part of the the permanent record of each student and follow them through to the end of high school.

Also, my daughter is writing the grade 9 math test this year at Sir Oliver Mowat CI in Scarborough, and the results will constitute 10% of her math mark this year.
- A. Walker