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News Release


August 29, 2012

Attention: News editors, education reporters

TORONTO, August 29, 2012—According to the highlights of the 2012 provincial test results released today by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), Grades 3 and 6 students are demonstrating a high level of achievement and are making progress in literacy, as are Grade 9 students enrolled in the academic course in mathematics. However, success in mathematics in the elementary grades and in the Grade 9 applied course is not keeping pace.

Compared to five years ago, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding the provincial standard has

  • increased by five percentage points in Grade 3 reading, from 61% to 66%.
  • increased by nine percentage points in Grade 6 reading, from 66% to 75%.
  • increased by 10 percentage points in Grade 3 writing, from 66% to 76%.
  • increased by seven percentage points in Grade 6 writing, from 67% to 74%.
  • remained the same at 68% in Grade 3 mathematics.
  • decreased by three percentage points, from 61% to 58%, in Grade 6 mathematics.

In Grade 9, students in the academic and applied mathematics courses continue to make strides. Compared to five years ago, the percentage of students at or above the provincial standard has increased by nine percentage points, from 75% to 84%, in the academic course, and by 10 percentage points, from 34% to 44%, in the applied course. Despite the notable increase in the applied course, more than half of its students are still not meeting the standard.

“In this day and age, solid mathematics skills are crucial to success in all facets of life. The lack of progress in mathematics achievement, particularly at the elementary level, where strong foundations should be established, is concerning,” said Dr. Brian Desbiens, Chair of EQAO’s Board of Directors. “On both provincial and international tests, our elementary students are showing average achievement in mathematics. They risk falling behind their international peers if, as a province, we don’t address this issue with a focused sense of urgency.”

Indeed, EQAO’s longitudinal studies show the school system has been getting better at the early identification and support of students who are not meeting literacy expectations. This is not the case with mathematics. Over the past five years, there has been an increase in the proportion of students who did not meet the provincial reading and writing standards when in Grade 3 but who improved to meet them in Grade 6. Specifically,

  • the proportion of students who did not meet the reading standard when in Grade 3 but improved to meet it in Grade 6 has increased by 10 percentage points, from 40% to 50%.
  • the proportion of students who did not meet the writing standard when in Grade 3 but improved to meet it in Grade 6 has increased by eight percentage points, from 41% to 49%.

The same kind of progress has not, however, been seen in mathematics, where the proportion of students improving to meet the standard in Grade 6 has actually decreased by eight percentage points, from 28% to 20%, over the past five years. This is particularly troubling given that EQAO analyses consistently show that students who do not meet the provincial standard early in their schooling—that is, in either Grade 3 or Grade 6, or both—are much more likely to carry those difficulties into Grade 9.

“A sustained focus on literacy throughout the education system has resulted in significant progress for students in our elementary schools,” said Marguerite Jackson, EQAO’s Chief Executive Officer. “This should be our model and our inspiration for improving achievement in mathematics—a subject in which students have not demonstrated the same kind of success, particularly in the elementary grades.”

While provincial results provide evidence that students are progressing in literacy, attention to the very different rates of success within school communities across the province is merited. EQAO’s school and school board results, when released in a few weeks, should continue to drive local discussions about student achievement and compel action in order to improve the outcomes for all students in publicly funded schools across the province.

On September 12, EQAO will release student achievement results for each school and school board in Ontario. New this year, EQAO will also publish reports for each elementary school on the progress their students made from Grade 3 to Grade 6. Schools and boards will be able to speak about their results as of September 12.

On the same day, EQAO will release two comprehensive provincial reports, one about student achievement on the two elementary school tests and one about student achievement on the two secondary school tests. The provincial reports will provide contextual data, summaries of findings, strategies for success and profiles of successful schools. All information will be posted on EQAO’s Web site,, as it is released to the public.

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Test questions from the 2012 primary-division, junior-division and Grade 9 mathematics assessments are available on EQAO’s Web site, along with the answer keys and scoring guides, which include sample written student responses at each performance level.

Aussi disponible en français

For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact

Katia Collette
Senior Communications Officer


Ontario Student Achievement Over Time
EQAO Assessment
Component or Version
Percentage Meeting or Exceeding the Provincial Standard
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 Change
Over Five
Grade 3 Reading 61% 61% 62% 65% 66% +5%
Grade 6 Reading 66% 69% 72% 74% 75% +9%
Grade 3 Writing 66% 68% 70% 73% 76% +10%
Grade 6 Writing 67% 67% 70% 73% 74% +7%
Grade 3 Mathematics 68% 70% 71% 69% 68% 0
Grade 6 Mathematics 61% 63% 61% 58% 58% –3%
Grade 9 Academic Mathematics 75% 77% 82% 83% 84% +9%
Grade 9 Applied Mathematics 34% 38% 40% 42% 44% +10%
Cohort Tracking

EQAO conducted an analysis that examined the proportion of students who rose to the standard between Grade 3 and Grade 6 over five years.

Year in Grade 3 Year in Grade 6 Percentage of those students who did not meet the standard in Grade 3 but who improved to meet it in Grade 6
2009 2012 50%
2008 2011 47%
2007 2010 43%
2006 2009 39%
2005 2008 40%
Year in Grade 3 Year in Grade 6 Percentage of those students who did not meet the standard in Grade 3 but who improved to meet it in Grade 6
2009 2012 49%
2008 2011 48%
2007 2010 42%
2006 2009 39%
2005 2008 41%
Year in Grade 3 Year in Grade 6 Percentage of those students who did not meet the standard in Grade 3 but who improved to meet it in Grade 6
2009 2012 20%
2008 2011 22%
2007 2010 26%
2006 2009 28%
2005 2008 28%
About EQAO

EQAO’s tests measure student achievement in reading, writing and mathematics in relation to Ontario Curriculum expectations. The resulting data provide accountability and a gauge of quality in Ontario’s publicly funded education system. By providing this important evidence about learning, EQAO acts as a catalyst for increasing the success of Ontario students.

The objective and reliable results from EQAO’s tests complement the information obtained from classroom and other assessments to provide students, parents, teachers and administrators with a clear and comprehensive picture of student achievement and a basis for targeted improvement planning at the individual, school, school board and provincial levels. EQAO helps build capacity for the appropriate use of data by providing resources that educators, parents, policy-makers and others in the education community can use to improve learning and teaching. EQAO distributes an individual report to each student who writes a test, and posts school, school board and provincial results on its Web site.

In the 2011–2012 school year, there were

  • 126 455 Grade 3 students in 3358 schools;
  • 129 477 Grade 6 students in 3186 schools;
  • 97 741 Grade 9 students in academic mathematics in 691 schools and
  • 41 799 Grade 9 students in applied mathematics in 718 schools.
The Provincial Standard

The four levels of achievement that EQAO uses to report student results are aligned with the four levels of achievement used by the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education has established Level 3 as the provincial standard. Level 3 represents a range from B– to B+ for students in elementary school and a range from 70% to 79% for students in secondary school.

Meeting the standard means a student has a solid grasp of the required knowledge and skills, which is a good indication that he or she will be ready for work in the next grade. The standard is rigorously maintained from year to year, and EQAO assessments are developed and scored in a way that ensures the results can be compared appropriately from one year to the next.

Testing the Curriculum

The provincial tests given at the end of the primary division (Grade 3) and the junior division (Grade 6) assess students relative to the expectations in The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1–8: Language (revised 2006) and The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1–8: Mathematics (revised 2005), which outline the knowledge and skills students should have acquired by the corresponding stages of their schooling.

EQAO assessments measure how well students have met the provincial curriculum expectations. For example, Grade 3 and Grade 6 students are assessed in

  • reading—using a variety of reading strategies and conventions, understanding concepts, making inferences and connecting ideas;
  • writing—using writing strategies and language conventions, understanding assigned tasks, organizing ideas and communicating with the reader and
  • mathematics—demonstrating knowledge and skills in the five strands of mathematics: number sense and numeration, geometry and spatial sense, measurement, patterning and algebra, and data management and probability.

The Grade 9 mathematics test is based on the expectations for student knowledge and performance up to the end of Grade 9 in The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 and 10: Mathematics (revised 2005). The purpose of the Grade 9 Assessment of Mathematics is to assess the level at which students in the applied and academic mathematics courses are meeting Grade 9 curriculum expectations. Students enrolled in Grade 9 academic and applied mathematics must demonstrate knowledge and skills in the same three areas—number sense and algebra, linear relations, measurement and geometry—and for the academic course, they must also do so in analytic geometry.

Samples of all EQAO assessments can be found at

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