By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Durham students are exceeding provincial standards according to the latest EQAO results.
The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) released its latest batch of testing scores last month.
While the Durham District School Board saw a decline in the Grade 3, Grade 6 and Grade 9 applied math results, overall, the board is above the overall median for Ontario.
Seventy-eight per cent of Grade 3 students met standards in reading and writing, above the respective provincial marks of 75 and 72 per cent.
In all, 67 per cent of DDSB third grade students met the standards in math testing, besting the province-wide 61 per cent.
The 2017-18 performances of Grade 3 students is in line with the averages of the past four years.
However, since the 2013-14 school year, there is a noticeable decline in Grade 3 EQAO math scores across the province.
In the past four years, the number of students reaching provincial standards in math has slipped by six per cent.
Durham Grade 6 students had strong performances in reading and writing in the 2017-18 testing.
Eighty-five per cent of students reached the provincial expectation in reading, while 84 per cent were successful in writing.
In the past five years, Durham students have improved by four per cent in reading and six per cent in writing.
Fifty-four per cent of local students were at or above the provincial average (49 per cent)
The overall in math testing scores continues with Grade 6 students, as the provincial average is down from 54 per cent in the 2013-14 school year.
Eight-five per cent of Durham academic Grade 9 students met EQAO math standards, while 53 per cent of applied students were successful. The provincial average for Grade 9 applied students is 45 per cent.
DDSB director of education Lisa Millar says she is pleased with the board’s performance.
“We are proud of the effort from our teachers and principals,” Millar says. “Our educators’ continued focus on improving literacy and numeracy, and developing programs to support learning, shows our teacher’s commitment and dedication to our students. We are proud of our students and all staff.”
Leading up to this June’s provincial election, Premier Doug Ford said he wanted to see the “return of math fundamentals.”
Earlier this month, the province released a new guide for parents and educators aimed at returning to these “math fundamentals.”
“The EQAO assessment results…prove once again that we must do better with respect to students’ math performance in Ontario,” Education Minister Lisa Thompson stated in a government news release.
“For the last five years, we have seen an overall decline in EQAO math scores. Half of Ontario’s Grade 6 students have failed to meet the provincial standard for math,” Thompson continued. “And by the time our students get to Grade 9, more than half of them taking the applied math courses are failing to make the grade.”
Thompson pointed the blame at the previous Wynne government, and called their ‘Discovery Math’ a “failed experimental curriculum.”
The Ford government will refocus $55 million in existing math investments to school boards.
“This funding will support math facilitators and leads at the school board and school levels, as well as provide release-time for our teachers to participate in training and learning focused on the fundamentals of math,” she says.
Oshawa NDP MPP Jennifer French says EQAO testing is a failure measure.
While she feels students should assessed on their on their knowledge, she feels student success should be the ultimate goal.
“EQAO as the be all and end all is not serving students and educators in general,” she adds.
French says Ontario “already has a world-class education system with well-trained and well-versed educators”, and she feels an approach of “back to the basics” may ultimately be a way to undermine those educators.
“If experts in the field recommend ‘discovery math,’ I don’t understand why the premier would try to override it,” she says.