It is time to get rid of this destructive vestige of the Harris government of the late 1990s. It was implemented to:
a) fool Ontarians into thinking that the government was "doing something to improve education". This is a red herring. A one day test does not improve education. In fact, this type of standardized testing has caused significant harm over the last two decades.
b) follow the path that had been set in the United States. Canada excels far and above the United States in most measures of education. We don't need to follow their models; they should be following ours.
c) allow the Harris Conservative government to denigrate teachers as part of their campaign to find some kind of justification to move education to a fully privatized system as part of their "privatize Ontario" plan.
d) boost real estate values in higher socio-economic areas resulting in overcrowding in schools that have higher scores and the closure of very suitable and valuable schools
There are many advantages to eliminating EQAO testing:
1. the tens of millions of dollars spent every year on the preparation and implementation of these tests could be redirected into areas that are presently underfunded such as special education where needs for support are increasing at a rapid rate
2. students will no longer have to live under the stigma created of not being good enough. This stigma is based on an arbitrary number that was picked by a politician of the time who had no clear understanding of good pedagogy and an agenda of dismantling the education system via the test scores.
3. educators can redirect their time, energy and focus on teaching students to grow and progress as productive, independent and contributing citizens respected for who they are and not what they achieve on a one time test score. Too much time and energy is lost in teaching to the test. Educators will tell you that there are too many variables that influence a child's capacity to be successful on a test. The pressure to succeed on this one day in grade 3, 6, 9 and 10 is enormous. It is harmful. It's no wonder we see an increase in mental and emotional health issues amongst our young people related to anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.
4. it will remove the stigma for educators who are constantly being told that they don't work hard enough and they are not good enough. The pressure on educators to have their students pass the test is counter-productive and contradictory to present curriculum and pedagogical guidelines set by the Ministry outside of the test for daily teaching. Education needs to be about producing well-rounded, functioning young adults, not about test scores. The amount of stress related to test scores has had a similar impact on the health of educators as it has had for students.
5. it will realign education goals to the present curriculum goals that focus on the holistic development of our young people. It does not reconcile that you need 50% to get a credit but 70% to be considered doing well or to be of value because that is the Ministry benchmark. Many students work very hard to earn their marks in the 60 - 70% range but are told that's still not good enough. It's destructive.
Let students and educators focus on education - not test scores.