To: Directors of EducationSuperintendents Board Liaisons—Elementary and Secondary Schools Principals—Elementary and Secondary Schools
From: Norah Marsh, Chief Executive Officer
Date: January 24, 2018
EQAO encouraged active participation during the consultation component of the government’s Independent Review of Assessment and Reporting, because we believe it is important to hear a variety of perspectives on how the agency can better support students, the education community and the rest of the province of Ontario. We listened intently as views were shared from across the province, and we are taking feedback into account as we plan our modernization initiatives.
Equity and inclusion were recurring themes in the consultations. We agree that they are a priority, as they can help students succeed regardless of background or circumstance. While the Review’s report and subsequent direction from the government are still outstanding, EQAO is taking measures to update its activities, policies and procedures with respect to equity and inclusion. The items below represent the beginning of significant shifts that will take place in the months ahead. Once the government provides its renewed direction to EQAO, we will be requesting feedback from you on specific questions that will help guide further changes.
Dr. Steven Reid, EQAO’s Chief Assessment Officer, is leading the review of EQAO’s equity and inclusion strategies. With the help of educators, independent experts and agency staff, he will analyze best accommodation practices across the province that support students with special education needs. This review will also consider the experiences of schools with new Canadians who have not experienced Ontario’s education system and curriculum for long, and the responsibilities of districts as part of the Ministry’s
Ontario Education Equity Action Plan. There will be opportunities for you to provide feedback on EQAO’s direction in the near future, and we aim to have new accommodation policies developed by fall 2018.
As an example of our commitment to updating our accommodation policies, last year we were pleased to collaborate with school boards on the introduction of Read&Write for Google Chrome as an assistive-technology option for our assessments. This development was in response to requests from members of the education community to leverage technology in the classroom. We are happy to receive further recommendations on ways to improve our assessment program.
Currently, each EQAO assessment has a Sensitivity Committee that provides input from a specialized equity perspective and ensures that assessment materials are fair for all students. Committees review assessment materials (e.g., questions and reading selections) at various stages of development, and make suggestions for their acceptance, rejection or revision. EQAO invites educators or experts with experience in equity and inclusion, and who will help reflect the diversity of our province, to
submit an application to join a Sensitivity Committee.
As part of our modernization process, we will examine how we can better reflect the diversity of our province through some customization of the assessments.
In December the EQAO Board of Directors approved a new research framework. EQAO is undertaking or collaborating on a number of research projects that will help us understand students’ learning experiences in Ontario better. Research topics include
Research reports will be published and made available to you as the projects are completed.
EQAO’s assessment program has always benefited from the advice and insights of committees composed of external experts and organizations. EQAO has renewed its committees’ mandates and reviewed their membership so that they can offer greater insights into best equity and inclusion practices. We are also creating committees that are more interdisciplinary so that experts in the psychometric field work alongside practitioners. By doing so, we will be able to make decisions that fulfill the rigour of standardized assessments while also considering implementation issues.
The staff at EQAO and I look forward to continuing our work with you in support of the children and youth of Ontario, and to collaborating with the education community as EQAO pursues its modernization initiatives.