Attention: News editors, education reporters
TORONTO, May 31, 2012 — Starting today, Ontario’s Grade 9 students begin writing the provincial math assessment. As they do, an Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) study released today shows that teachers can help them do better on the test by delivering a simple non-math message: “This test counts toward your final mark.”
EQAO’s research revealed that when teachers of academic math said they would count the assessment toward final grades, and their students were aware of that fact, 87.5% of them met or exceeded the provincial standard. By comparison, 75.9% of students in that course met the standard when they said they were not aware of their teacher’s intention to count the test—a difference of 11.6 percentage points.
The gap was even larger for students enrolled in the applied math course. More than one-half (51.1%) who were aware of the assessment’s significance met or exceeded the provincial standard compared to 34.6% who met the standard and said they were unaware—a difference of 16.5 percentage points.
Both teachers (83%) and students (71%) overwhelmingly agreed that student awareness that the EQAO assessment would count toward the course mark was a motivating factor to take the test more seriously. Ninety-five percent of all teachers who completed the teacher questionnaire reported that they included the EQAO assessment as part of their students’ final class mark. The weight teachers gave the assessment varied considerably—85% used the assessment for up to 10% of a student’s year-end report-card mark.
“In school as in life, the motivation to try one’s best often leads to better results,” said Marguerite Jackson, EQAO’s Chief Executive Officer. “This research clearly shows that for some students, knowing the provincial test will affect their course mark provides that extra bit of motivation to demonstrate the full extent of their learning. Teachers may therefore wish to remind students of whether or not the test will affect their course mark, and to what degree, as they sit down to write it.”
Schools across the province are administering EQAO’s Grade 9 Assessment of Mathematics this year between May 31 and June 15, 2012.
This study is an example of how EQAO research helps the public, educators and the Ministry of Education better understand the factors that influence student achievement and education quality.
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While participation in the Grade 9 Assessment of Mathematics is mandatory, it is up to teachers, schools and school boards to decide whether the results will constitute part of the final mark. According to Ministry of Education policy, teachers may count this assessment as part of their students’ final mark. The fact that almost all schools use the EQAO assessment in determining part of their students’ final Grade 9 math mark speaks to the assessment’s quality as a relevant and curriculum-based evaluation of student learning.
|How Student Awareness of Role of EQAO Grade 9 Assessment of Mathematics in Final Mark Affects Achievement||Academic||Applied|
|Teachers counting the assessment and students aware of it||n= 48 105||n= 6 974|
|Percentage of students who met or exceeded the provincial standard||87.5%||51.1%|
|Teachers counting the assessment and students not aware of it||n= 989||n= 360|
|Percentage of students who met or exceeded the provincial standard||75.9%||34.6%|
|How Student Awareness of Assessment’s Role Affects Motivation|
|“Does counting the Grade 9 Assessment of Mathematics as part of your class mark motivate you to take the assessment more seriously?”||Academic||Applied|
|Undecided or no response||15%||18%|
The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) acts as a catalyst for increasing the success of Ontario students by measuring their achievement in reading, writing and mathematics against a common curriculum benchmark. As an independent provincial agency, EQAO plays a pivotal role by conducting province-wide tests at key points in every student’s primary, junior and secondary education and reporting the results. The objective and reliable facts obtained add to the current knowledge about student learning and are an important tool for improvement at the individual, school and provincial levels.