Everything You Need to Know About High School EQAO - From a Principal’s Perspective

By Principal Judy, Intake Coordinator at Teachers on Call

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

Everything You Need to Know About High School EQAO - From a Principal’s Perspective

While standardized testing is a controversial topic in education, it’s still important to understand in order to set students up for success. If you live in Ontario and have children who attend public school, you are likely familiar with EQAO assessments. There is a total of 4 standardized tests throughout elementary and high school to verify students’ skills in math and literacy at key points in their educational careers. While EQAO assessments take place in both elementary and secondary school in grades 3, 6, 9 and 10, the evaluation of them is treated very differently. In this blog, Teachers on Call’s very own Principal Judy shares information on high school EQAO assessments for grade 9 and 10 students to best support families in understanding the process and next steps.

        EQAO (Education Quality and Accountability Office) – the one acronym destined to put fear into the hearts of students and parents.  But the reality is very different, and this blog will explain the two different EQAO tests that students will write in high school, and what parents and guardians can do to support their students.

        Grade 9 EQAO Assessment of Mathematics

        With the destreaming of Grade 9 math, there is now one EQAO math test for all students toward the end of the semester or school year in which they take math, typically during the months of January and June. The goal of the test is to assess students’ understanding of the grade 9 math curriculum that students are expected to have learned by the end of the Ontario grade 9 math course (MTH1W).  The best resource is the official EQAO website. Here, you can find sample tests, formula sheets, and answers to frequently asked questions.

        The two biggest questions we usually receive from families are:

        1.      Does it count (a student’s favourite question!)?

        2.      Do I have to pass the EQAO math test?

        Let’s address the first question:  the answer is a resounding yes.  Be sure to check with your school and high school math teacher.  Math teachers are allowed to score sections of the EQAO test, and they can use that result to form part of the student’s final grade.  The recommended portion is 10% of their final grade, but there are schools which may vary from that formula.  It’s important to know what portion of their final grade will be from EQAO and what portion will be from their final exam and/or culminating activity (the total for these should be no more than 30% of their final grade).

        For the second question, you can see that the weighting of the test as well as the student’s mark going into the EQAO assessment will be important determiners of whether a student must pass the math test in order to get their credit.  However, it is not to be confused with the grade 10 OSSLT where results do not count towards school grades, but a student must pass it to receive their high school diploma. Here, I would suggest that the credit is the most important thing. The math EQAO test is external to the school and evaluates what a student does or does not know during a short period of time (in comparison to a semester or full year of math).  As we all know, students can have “off” days.  What’s important is that they have a full understanding of the math curriculum so that they are prepared for their pathway in grade 10.

        Grade 10 Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT)

        The Grade 10 Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) is a high stakes test that students traditionally take in grade 10.  Passing this test (or alternative – see below) is a requirement of graduation.

        Again, I would recommend that you visit the official EQAO website for the test. Here you can find a practice test and some webinars you may be interested in viewing.  In addition, your secondary school will likely have a lot of material and preparation to ensure students are as ready as possible for the literacy test.

        It is a high stakes two days. The biggest concern from a principal’s perspective is the students’ mental health.  At that age, knowing that their potential graduation is on the line, these two days become not just a test of their literacy but of their mental health and wellbeing.

        What you can do:  Help them prepare with the online test information, talk to the school to get additional supports, talk to your student about what is at stake and what the alternatives are, make sure they get plenty of rest and try to have them start each day with a healthy breakfast.  Find out what supports the school is offering.  In many ways, this is like any other test – just that the stakes are higher and it’s focused on literacy.  See my blog on developing study skills to get some other tips and tricks.

        If you are concerned at the end of grade 9 about your child’s level of literacy, consider contacting us at Teachers on Call and get a tutor in place to help prepare them for the Literacy Test.  We have in-person and online English tutors who specialize in preparing students for the Literacy Test. The only caveat is not to wait too long to get tutoring in place, especially with this subject.  The sooner they start working together, the better your student’s chance of academic success.

        Alternative to the OSSLT for the Literacy Graduation Requirement

        If a student is unsuccessful on the OSSLT, it is not the end of the world.  There is no limit on the number of times a student is able to re-take this test. They do need to attempt the test once and be eligible for it twice (note: they don’t have to write it twice, just be “eligible” to write it twice).  At that point, the school can recommend that they take the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC or OLC).  This course then takes the place of the OSSLT; successful completion of the course will allow them to graduate.

        This Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course can also be used to meet the compulsory English credit in grade 11 or 12 OR be used to satisfy Group 1 compulsory credit. 

        Here is the curriculum document for the course. More information on the literacy graduation requirements can be found on pages 64-67 in this document.

        We hope this information has been helpful understanding the EQAO math and literacy assessments at the high school level. If you are interested in learning more about EQAO assessments at the elementary level, feel free to check out our blog here.

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