5Ws (and 1H) Elementary Parents Need to know about EQAO

By Joanne Sallay

Posted in English Tutoring, Featured, Local, Math Tutoring, Parent Education Resources, Special Ed. Tutoring, Tips & Advice

5Ws (and 1H) Elementary Parents Need to know about EQAO

Test taking can be scary and anxiety provoking under regular circumstances, yet formal standardized tests often elevate nervous feelings for students (especially when participating at young ages for the very first time)! If you live in Ontario and have children who attend public school, you will become familiar with the EQAO assessments. There is a total of 4 throughout elementary and high school to test students’ skills in reading, writing and math at key points in their education. Interestingly, while EQAO results do not impact grades or report cards, students often experience apprehension and stress around them. Our in-person and online tutoring team at Teachers on Call believe it’s important to equip families with knowledge to have meaningful conversations with students about EQAO tests to ease anxiety. While EQAO assessments take place in grades 3, 6, 9 and 10, for this blog our president, Joanne Sallay, shares information on elementary assessments for grade 3 and 6 students to best support families in understanding the process and next steps.

        Do you have a child in grade 3 or 6 attending public school in Ontario? If the answer is yes, they will participate in a mandatory EQAO assessment. Every student in the province who attends public school takes the exact same test to help the Ministry of Education, school boards, schools, educators, and families understand students’ levels in reading, writing and math according to The Ontario Curriculum. Students often experience feelings of uncertainty and anxiety when going through this process. From our professional experience at Teachers on Call tutoring elementary and secondary students since the introduction of these large-scale tests in 1996, we recommend having dialogue with children around these tests and what they mean. In order to help families understand the process better, this blog has been prepared as an additional resource.

        Below you will find answers from our perspective at Teachers on Call to common questions families in Ontario have about EQAO assessments using the 5Ws and H framework of Who, What, Where, When, Why and How.

        WHO writes the EQAO test and is it mandatory for students to participate?

        Elementary students who attend public schools in Ontario take the EQAO test in grades 3 and 6. This includes students with special education needs, although they are eligible for accommodations according to their Individual Education Plan (IEP).

        At the elementary level, it is mandatory for students who attend public school to participation in EQAO’s provincial assessments. However, school principals can exempt students on a case-by-case basis due to special needs or circumstances.

        WHAT does EQAO actually stand for? WHAT subjects does the EQAO test cover?

        EQAO stands for Education Quality and Accountability Office, an arm's length government agency that oversees the quality of Ontario's publicly funded education system for students from kindergarten to grade 12.

        For grade 3 students it is an assessment of primary grades and for grade 6 students it is an assessment of junior grades. The assessment covers the reading, writing and math skills students are expected to have learned by the end of grade 3 (primary division) and grade 6 (junior division). The material is based on The Ontario Curriculum that students learn at school.

        WHERE do students write the EQAO assessment?

        All students in the province from cities big and small take this test, whether you live in Kenora, Ottawa, Burlington, or London!

        Elementary students in Ontario will take the EQAO assessment with their peers during class time at their respective public school. The Ontario Government wanted to modernize the process, so the test is now digital using an online adaptive platform, with select portions with traditional handwritten responses. As a result, students often take the test in their learning commons or wherever there is computer access. 

        WHEN do elementary students write the EQAO test? WHEN are results available?

        Elementary students write the EQAO test at the end of the school year to assess what they have learned. Each individual school will decide the exact dates when their students will write the test spread over a couple of days during the allotted spring window in May and June.

        The results will be available in the fall of the following school year. The individual student results will be made available directly to parents and guardians, as students will be provided the results to bring home, like report cards. EQAO also reports the results of the provincial assessments overall for public school boards and individual public schools.

        WHY do students write the EQAO assessment?

        The results from the EQAO assessment provides a snapshot of your child’s progress in relation to The Ontario Curriculum. This information is important for many stakeholders including the Ministry of Education, school boards, public schools, teachers, and families. The results for reading, writing and math will follow the provincial framework from level 1 to 4. Students meeting or exceeding the standard (Levels 3 and 4) have demonstrated most or all of the required reading, writing and math knowledge and skills expected at this point of their studies. Students below or approaching the provincial standard (Levels 1 and 2) require more support to catch up in the respective areas.

        HOW can students prepare? HOW can the results be utilized to support students?

        It is not recommended that students study for the EQAO elementary assessments as it is meant to capture their overall understanding of The Ontario Curriculum. However, students will prepare closer to the test date with their classroom teachers to go online to see what the site will look like, complete practice questions and a sample test to give students practice with the online tools including built-in text-to-speech audio, zoom in and zoom out, high contrast and highlighter in the e-assessment platform.

        The best way to prepare students is to support them throughout the entire year to ensure they understand concepts covered in class and their homework and are comfortable with technology to take tests on a computer. If they are struggling in reading, writing or math, consider asking for additional support from the teacher or exploring help from a professional tutor.

        It’s also important to talk to students about what this test is about and answer all their questions. Like any test taking preparation technique, providing support and positive encouragement is always reassuring to students. Proper rest and nutrition are also very helpful.

        While the results do not impact student grades or report cards, the information is helpful for teachers, parents and guardians to understand their child’s progress with The Ontario Curriculum to understand if more help is needed going forward. These results can also be shared with a professional in-person or online tutor to ensure students reach grade level. If you are looking for a tutoring service for the first time, feel free to reach out to our team at Teachers on Call to explore further.

        We hope this information is helpful to you and your family to have supportive conversations with young students. If you would like to learn more about these standardized tests, there is further information on the official EQAO site including frameworks, sample tests and a video explaining the process.

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