To: Directors of Education
Cc: Superintendents, Board Contacts — Elementary and Secondary Schools, Principals — Elementary and Secondary Schools
From: Norah Marsh, Chief Executive Officer
Date: August 22, 2017
When I assumed my position at EQAO earlier this month, I indicated that my top priority is continuing the modernization of the agency’s assessment program. The EQAO team is committed to the goal of ensuring that students experience large-scale assessments that better mirror current classroom pedagogy and that still provide valuable large-scale data to inform practice.
In October 2016, the online trial of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test was disrupted by a cyberattack. Following this incident, EQAO requested feedback from schools and school boards related to the shift to online assessments and our assessment program more broadly. EQAO is listening to the education community, and this feedback is informing our next steps as we move forward with the modernization process.
We have heard, for example, that tests should shed more light on the connection between literacy, mathematical literacy and global competencies. There have also been requests that EQAO ensure its modernization includes more functionality as well as enhanced built-in accommodations for students with special education needs.
In addition, we need to consider the variety of technology-related projects underway across the province, including the Ministry of Education’s Broadband Access for All Students initiative. EQAO should coordinate its modernization efforts with these other initiatives in the interest of ensuring a smoother transition.
Taking this background into consideration, the modernization process presents an opportunity to create assessments that will serve the next generation of students. Translating this renewed vision into practice is a complex undertaking, and EQAO will take the time required to consult and build a system that meets the needs of the education community in the areas of usability, accessibility and security. We are committed to keeping you informed of the project’s progress. At this time, we do not have a confirmed timeline for bringing assessments online but, given the current circumstances, it is important that you be aware that EQAO will not administer online testing in 2017–2018.
EQAO remains committed to modernizing its assessment delivery. The EQAO team and I look forward to collaborating with the education community and the Ministry of Education as we build on previous experiences, gather input, determine system requirements, confirm adequate technical capacity across the province, build and test applications, and launch them effectively. While EQAO staff have already compiled some feedback with respect to the move toward online assessments, this year will be an opportunity for EQAO to hear additional comments from students, parents, teachers and educators across Ontario.
Feedback will be integrated into the design of EQAO’s system, which will be more aligned with the needs of Ontario’s education community. As an example of our commitment to acting on feedback, EQAO was able this year to address requests from schools and boards to incorporate Read&Write for Google Chrome into most of its assessment programs.
As this modernization effort unfolds, EQAO will also continue to provide accurate and reliable data in order to help Ontario’s education community improve student achievement.
The EQAO team looks forward to working with you on this and other initiatives, and I thank you for your commitment to Ontario’s students.