Sustained Literacy Efforts by Ontario Schools and Boards Paying Off



    EQAO schools visits across province reveal how data lead to school
    success stories

    TORONTO, June 13 /CNW/ - Today, the Education and Quality and
Accountability Office (EQAO) published school- and board-level results from
the 2006-2007 Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) on its Web site,
www.eqao.com. These local results confirm that the public education system's
continued focus on developing students' fundamental reading and writing skills
has helped sustain the highest level of achievement on the literacy test to
date. In 2002, only 85 out of 720 English-language schools had a student
success rate on the OSSLT that was at or above this year's provincial high of
84%. In 2007, 385 out of 783 English-language schools achieved this rate.
    Over the past several months EQAO staff visited approximately 70 of
Ontario's secondary schools, and it's clear that educators are regularly using
the results from EQAO testing as a reference point to guide their support for
struggling students. The reliable and accurate data from EQAO supports
continuous improvement in schools, boards and for individual students.
    "Schools and boards have come to rely on EQAO's annual testing data as a
tool for tracking the effectiveness of their educational strategies," said
Jerry Ponikvar, Vice-Chair of EQAO's board of directors. "Province-wide
testing has contributed to an ongoing cycle of learning, as the results from
one year inform the focus, resources and improvement planning for the next."
    School communities from across the province are able to see the results
of their collective efforts to improve the literacy skills of their students
at www.eqao.com. School and board reports include important contextual data,
which help place the results within the local circumstances of each community.
    Of the hundreds of publicly funded schools in Ontario, EQAO has selected
12 to profile in its provincial report. These schools are noted for their
success at raising their students' literacy skills, as demonstrated by
improved student OSSLT scores over the years. Each school discusses what the
testing and other data have taught them about their students and the
innovative approaches staff are using to address their students' needs.
    These school profiles are available on EQAO's Web site, www.eqao.com.
    In addition to school- and board-level results, EQAO has released Ontario
Student Achievement: EQAO's Provincial Report on the Results of the 2006-2007
Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test, which includes detailed achievement
results by subgroup (e.g., gender, special needs and English as a second
language status), contextual data, a summary of findings, strategies for
learning, observations from the field and profiles of successful schools.
    "The reports provided by EQAO are a rich source of information for
parents, educators, policy-makers, researchers, taxpayers and all others who
seek clear indicators of student achievement in our publicly funded education
system," said Marguerite Jackson, EQAO's Chief Executive Officer. "But data
are valuable only if they move us to action. They take on a higher purpose
when used as the impetus for analysis, discussion and concrete steps toward
improvement."
    In the "Strategies for Success" portion of the provincial report, EQAO
provides recommendations based on observations of trends in this year's test
results. For example, EQAO observed that unsuccessful student performance on
the OSSLT, particularly in applied English courses, is characterized by
responses that are less complex, more repetitious and less varied than those
of successful students. In order to address these development issues, EQAO
suggests that teachers, and particularly those of applied courses, work in
cross-curricular school teams to ensure students have opportunities to develop
and practice complexity, variety and abstraction in literacy contexts in all
subject areas.
    EQAO highlights best practices by sharing successful strategies used by
schools to improve student achievement. Key among the strategies of these
schools is the use of EQAO and other data for evidence-based planning for
their students. Regional releases, also available on EQAO's Web site, profile
12 English-language schools from across the province.
    Grade 10 students wrote the test on March 29, 2007, in all publicly
funded schools in Ontario. EQAO tests provide a reliable indication of student
achievement in literacy according to the expectations of The Ontario
Curriculum.
    This information and more is available on EQAO's Web site, www.eqao.com.

    Aussi disponible en français.



    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    About EQAO

    The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) came into being in
1996 as an independent arm's-length agency of the Ontario government after the
Royal Commission on Learning recommended the establishment of province-wide
testing to evaluate and report on the quality of education in Ontario schools.
For more than a decade, EQAO's assessment practices and processes have placed
the organization at the forefront of large-scale assessment programs
worldwide. EQAO administers several province-wide tests each year. Results
from these assessments yield individual, school, school board and provincial
data on student achievement.

    EQAO's Role in Support of Student Learning

    Since EQAO first administered the OSSLT in 2002, improvement has been
reflected in higher pass rates for students in all subgroups writing the test:

    
    -   The success rate for boys increased by 12 percentage points, from 68%
        in 2002 to 80% in 2007, and the success rate for girls also increased
        by 12 percentage points, from 75% in 2002 to 87% in 2007.
    -   The success rate for students with special needs increased by
        16 percentage points, from 37% in 2002 to 53% in 2007.
    -   The success rate for English as a second language and English
        literacy development learners increased by 18 percentage points, from
        34% in 2002 to 52% in 2007.
    -   The success rate for students enrolled in an academic English course
        increased by 10 percentage points, from 85% in 2002 to 95% in 2007.
    -   The success rate for students enrolled in an applied English course
        increased by 24 percentage points, from 38% in 2002 to 62% in 2007.
    

    Assessments in Context

    The quality of schools should not be judged according to EQAO data alone.
EQAO results provide a "snapshot" of how students are achieving at one point
in time and do not fully represent the richness and depth of multi-faceted
schools and their students. Every school's staff has access to many sources of
data in addition to EQAO reports. School staff and parents need to take into
account the complexities of their school by examining their EQAO results along
with all of the other information they have about student achievement, such as
report cards, classroom assessments and board assessments.
    In addition, contextual factors-such as attendance patterns, absentee
rates, mobility rates and special program needs of students - can influence
student-achievement levels in any school. This is why it is meaningless and
misleading to rank schools according to EQAO data. Trends in each school are
key, not comparisons between schools.

    School and Board Information

    EQAO provides reports to help school staff use local data and to share it
with their communities. These reports, available on EQAO's Web site, include

    
    -   ready-to-use summaries of results;
    -   easy-to-read graphs;
    -   information about the local context and
    -   trends over time.
    

    Based on the newest results of EQAO testing, the Ontario Student
Achievement: EQAO's Provincial Report on the Results of the 2006-2007 Ontario
Secondary School Literacy Test includes practical strategies for instruction
that classroom teachers can use. Each school and board also receives reports
about their students' answers to each question on the test. These resources
will assist in identifying key areas for improvement.

    Aussi disponible en français





For further information:

For further information: and to arrange interviews, please contact: Phil
Serruya, Manager of Communications and Public Affairs, (416) 325-2230,
phil.serruya@eqao.com

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Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO)

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