Post-pandemic EQAO results show improvement in student literacy: TNCDSB

The Northwest Catholic District School Board (TNCDSB) trustees looked at EQAO results from 2022 to 2023, saying that after one year of uninterrupted learning after the COVID-19 pandemic, students’ literacy skills are improving.

At the board meeting on October 17, 2023, to start the presentation, the importance of viewing the results as a way to identify student learning needs and to design plans to develop teachers, rather than to compare ranks with other schools, was noted.

TNCDSB primary and junior students performed very similarly to students across Ontario. It was reported that the junior division in each of the three largest schools in the board are doing very well.

The target is for 75 per cent of students to receive results at level three or above. In the three largest schools, students are meeting the target for reading and writing and seeing a progression toward more grade-level results.

There is a positive improvement compared to previous years; however, more work to support students in mathematics is needed.

The results for Our Lady of the Way School and St. Patricks School is suppressed due to the few students who are writing EQAO at those locations.

Trustee Jim Kulchyski expressed his satisfaction and gratitude with the turnout.

“When I was going through these EQAO results. I think I gave it a fist pump a couple times. So I pass it on to all of your folks: Way to go. Good job,” he said.

Another board member said it was interesting to see the correlation between the need for more support in mathematics and the new Math Action Plan, where many schools have been provided funding support from the province.

As part of the Math Action Plan, several grades in three Catholic board schools were identified as “priority schools,” meaning they scored under a certain percentage range on EQAO testing and would benefit from extra mathematics support.

The priority schools identified included the grade 3s at St. Mary School, along with grade 6s at Our Lady of the Way School, Sacred Heart School, and St. Joseph’s School.

Regarding the ongoing debate about the usefulness of EQAO testing, board members recognized the value of this year’s data in showcasing student skills and areas for improvement.

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a “reset” button on EQAO testing, the board said. The provincial test provides historic data on students’ literacy and numeracy skills; however, since the test was cancelled for the year of 2019 to 2020, there is now a gap in data.

When comparing to pre-pandemic EQAO results, students did not perform as well. However, especially after one full year of uninterrupted learning, TNCDSB is seeing a trend of improvement.

“Last school year was the first year that students did not have any interruption to their learning,” a board member said. “So being back in the classroom, and having that support of the teachers, and being with their peers—we're definitely seeing an improvement in the results.”

While EQAO test questions do change each year, the biggest change has been the switch to online assessments. Students no longer complete the test with a paper and pencil, something that students may need time to adjust to, and that will hopefully result in improved testing results in the future, the board expressed.

“And teachers are aware now, so they're providing students more opportunities throughout the year to practice doing assessments in those ways so that it's not something all new when EQAO comes along in the spring.”

Elisa Nguyen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times