EQAO Encourages Evidence-Informed Discussions About Math and Literacy Trends

Agency releases provincial-level data and contextual information

August 28, 2019

NEWS

The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) has published provincial-level data from its 2018–2019 assessments.

EQAO data provide an independent snapshot that shows whether students are meeting curriculum expectations in reading, writing and math at key stages of their education. To build a full picture of learners’ context and the factors that influence achievement, it’s important to consider assessment results alongside other information, such as demographic data and EQAO questionnaire responses.

The release of EQAO data offers an opportunity to discuss learning trends and what can be done to support students across Ontario.

MATH TRENDS AND OBSERVATIONS

EQAO’s questionnaires offer insights into students’ attitudes, perceptions and contexts. Across the primary and secondary levels, fewer than 60% of students reported liking or being good at math.

  • Higher percentages of Grade 3 students like math and see themselves as good at math (57% and 55% respectively) than do Grade 6 students (50% and 52% respectively).
  • One-third of Grade 9 students enrolled in the applied course like math and a similar percentage see themselves as good at math (35% and 32% respectively), while more than half of Grade 9 students enrolled in the academic course like math and a similar percentage see themselves as good at math (57% and 54% respectively).
  • Elementary teachers use a variety of approaches to teach math. The instructional strategies most commonly used are independent practice (91% in Grade 3 and 96% in Grade 6) and direct instruction (91% in Grade 3 and 95% in Grade 6).

According to the data from EQAO’s 2018–2019 assessments, the trends in math are relatively consistent, except for the decline among students in Grade 3.

  • In Grade 3, 58% met the provincial math standard, a four-percentage-point decrease from the average of the previous three years.
  • In Grade 6, 48% met the provincial math standard, a one-percentage-point decrease from the average of the previous three years.
  • In the Grade 9 academic course, 84% met the provincial math standard in 2019, which is consistent with the average of the previous three years.
  • In the Grade 9 applied course, 44% met the provincial math standard, a one-percentage-point decrease from the average of the previous three years.

EQAO data and insights about learners in Ontario suggest the following observations may benefit from further inquiry.

  • There is a persistent achievement gap between students in the applied and academic courses.
  • Research has suggested that students’ attitudes toward math can influence their achievement. It is worth considering what can be done to promote students’ positive attitudes toward math.
  • Research has also shown that, in Grades 3 and 6, Ontario students’ basic knowledge of fundamental math skills is stronger than their ability to apply those skills to a problem or think critically to determine an answer. In attempts to promote engagement and achievement, it is worth considering how we can further support students’ mathematical problem solving and critical thinking.
Graph of Ontario Math Results (2015-2019)
Graph: Ontario Math Results (2015-2019)

LITERACY TRENDS AND OBSERVATIONS

EQAO’s questionnaires offer insights into students’ attitudes, perceptions and contexts. While a majority of students in Grades 3 and 6 see themselves as good readers, proportions smaller than 50% like to read and write and see themselves as good writers.

  • While less than half of elementary-level students like to read (44% in Grade 3 and 42% in Grade 6), most see themselves as good readers (62% in Grade 3 and 67% in Grade 6).
  • Fewer than half of elementary-level students like to write (45% in Grade 3 and 39% in Grade 6) and a similar percentage see themselves as good writers (48% in Grade 3 and 40% in Grade 6).
  • In Grade 10, for 51% of students, the types of materials read outside school most frequently are websites, e-mail or chat messages and blogs.
  • In Grade 10, for 52% of students, the types of writing done outside school most frequently are on social media or texting.

According to the data from EQAO’s 2018–2019 assessments, the trends in literacy are consistent, except for a decline in writing among students in Grade 3.

  • In Grade 3, 74% of students met the provincial reading standard, which is consistent with the average of the previous three years, and 69% met the provincial writing standard, a four-percentage-point decrease from the average of the previous three years.
  • In Grade 6, 81% of students met the provincial reading standard, which is consistent with the average of the previous three years, and 82% met the provincial writing standard, a two-percentage-point increase over the average of the previous three years.
  • In the Grade 10 academic course, 91% of students met the provincial literacy standard, which is consistent with the average of the previous three years.
  • In the Grade 10 applied course, 41% of students met the provincial literacy standard, a two-percentage-point decrease from the average of the previous three years.

EQAO data and insights about learners in Ontario suggest the following observations may benefit from further inquiry.

  • There is a persistent achievement gap between students in the applied and academic courses.
  • Further analysis is required to determine how students’ reading and writing habits outside school affect literacy skills.
  • The fact that reading and writing achievement trends in Grade 6 are consistently higher than those in Grade 3 may be a reflection of students’ developmental growth.
Graph of Ontario Literacy Results (2015-2019)
Graph: Ontario Literacy Results (2015-2019)

QUOTES

Photo of Cameron Montgomery, Chair

“We all want a great education system that prepares our children for their futures. EQAO assesses students’ math and literacy skills because these are critical to success in society and competitiveness on the world stage. When we look at achievement trends, it’s important to get as much information as possible about why these trends have appeared. EQAO data and other sources of insights will be useful to policy makers and educators as they seek solutions to help all young learners succeed.”

Cameron Montgomery, Chair, EQAO
Photo of Norah Marsh

“We know that students can overcome learning challenges when the right kind of supports are in place. EQAO data clearly demonstrate that students with gaps in their learning at an early age can go on and achieve at a high level. In secondary school, they are more likely to do so should they choose an academic course. The continued difference in outcomes for students enrolled in applied programming needs to be examined urgently.”

— Norah Marsh, Chief Executive Officer, EQAO

LEARN MORE

This announcement pertains only to highlights of EQAO’s assessment data at the provincial level. School- and board-level data are not available at this time; these will be released on September 25, 2019.

EQAO typically highlights five-year analyses to show achievement trends over time. In 2015, however, due to labour disruptions in some English boards, provincial reports were not provided for the Grade 3, 6 and 9 assessments.

Students are deemed successful on an EQAO assessment, and meet the provincial standard, if they achieve Level 3 (i.e., the equivalent of 70%) or above. Students at Levels 1 or 2 demonstrate some understanding of the curriculum expectations, but they do not yet meet the provincial standard.

EQAO Contact

Sophie Auclair
Communications Officer

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