People for Education responds to Ontario's review of assessment and reporting
To support a focus on the broad range of competencies and skills that students need for long-term success, the province is reviewing its assessment policies and practices – from inside the classroom all the way to participation in international tests.
One question that some people are asking is: “Do we need the EQAO?”
For the last three years, People for Education has been examining different aspects of measurement and assessment in education, including the pros and cons of large-scale testing. We submitted a brief to the province that outlines our perspective on the pros and cons of large-scale assessment, and explains why we think it is important to have an arms-length body to assess and evaluate the strength of the system.
An independent provincial agency that collects information about system performance is vital to ensure the strength of Ontario’s public education system. Having a body that is arms-length from government allows some freedom from the political pressure that may come as a result of vested interests in specific outcomes of system performance. It may also help to guard against biases that may be present when ministries conduct internal evaluations of policy.
Modernizing the EQAO and the province’s overall assessment and reporting policies and practices will take work, but it will be worth it.
It is possible to develop a careful, coherent assessment strategy that addresses local challenges while also supporting a common competency framework through which curriculum and policy, large scale assessment, and school assessment could flow.
It is also possible to develop assessments that provide much richer information about the system’s performance and its capacity in a wide range of vital areas. For example, standardized assessments given to a sampled population of students, on a sampled selection of competencies, could provide information about system performance, while avoiding some of the negative consequences of large-scale measurement.
It is time to update our assessment system in order to address areas of student learning that are central to success in school and life. However, in so doing, it is also vital to creatively and collectively address the challenges and limitations that all large scale assessment present.
To read People for Education’s submission to Ontario’s Independent review of assessment and reporting, click here.