Ottawa

Uncertainty around delayed Grade 9 EQAO math test, says school board chair

EQAO Grade 9 math testing will not take place in high schools across the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board this week due to teacher job action, and the chair of the school board says there's uncertainty about what that means for students.

Boards can opt to have students take test in June

OCDSB says it will not administer EQAO math tests to Grade 9 students this week. (iStock)

EQAO Grade 9 math testing will not take place in high schools across the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board this week, and the chair of the school board says there's uncertainty about what that means for students.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) has staged a series of rotating strikes and has also since November been on a work-to-rule campaign, meaning teachers were not performing some ancillary tasks, including preparing students for EQAO exams.

Last week, the province's education minister said it was up to school boards to decide whether to administer the test, but students who don't take it this month will need to write the assessment during the June administration period.

OCDSB chair Lynn Scott said that could mean grade 9 students enrolled in math classes this semester may go for several months without math instruction before writing the test in June.

"The trouble is that the students ... may not be taking any math in the next semester, but will still have to write the test, sort of five months after they finish their math course," Scott said. 

"Just how that's going to work, and what offsets can be arranged, is still not determined," she said.

She added the test results allow teachers to modify their approach, and give school boards information on how to improve the quality of education on a district-wide basis.

Education Minister says EQAO provides 'valuable information'

On Monday, the Minister of Education said the delay of EQAO testing was an example of how the OSSTF's job action is negatively impacting students.

"Part of the job action that was announced by a variety of unions, particularly OSSTF, is to withdraw preparation for that test. With that said, we've provided another option for students in June," said education minister Stephen Lecce.

"We believe there is merit in doing the test," Lecce said.

EQAO can count for up to 30 per cent of a student's final grade 9 math mark, but it is up to individual schools and boards to decide whether to count the provincial assessment, and for how much, according to the EQAO website.

Union questions EQAO usefulness 

The union has questioned the usefulness of the assessment, and said delaying the math test won't have any negative impact on students.

"The fact is students' marks can be based on the assessments that they got from their term, the semester that they just spent in math class," said Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation.

"It really doesn't have a negative impact on the student," Bischof said.

Bischof said the union would like to see the assessment done as a "random sample testing of the system," rather than a test that is administered to every single student.

"To apply it as an 'every student test' has never made sense to OSSTF, and we've had policies on the books for a long time opposing that approach," he said.

With files from Amanda Pfeffer

now