Where is the political will to end EQAO testing?

By Matt Richter, Education Critic
As originally appreared in What’s Up Muskoka.

Yet again, the EQAO standardized test has descended upon our education system.  For over a decade, our tax dollars have been funding an annual test for grade 3, 6, and 9 students, and a literacy test for grade 10 students.

The EQAO test is set out to inform the teacher, school, and school board as to where the strengths and needs are of their students.  Unfortunately, this comes at a cost to the taxpayers of over $30 million annually, and since this test tells teachers what they already know, it represents a classic example of unnecessary duplication in government spending.  Currently, teachers conduct extensive testing and reporting throughout the year, including 2 term reports and a progress report.  Also, school boards administer in-depth reading, writing, and math assessments during the school year.  Teachers and most administration will agree, that what is in place without EQAO is sufficient!

At no time should it be confused that I am opposed to testing.  Testing, assessing, and evaluating are all crucial to the educational process.  Rather, as the education critic for the Green Party of Ontario, I am firmly against the EQAO testing price tag.  Surprisingly, it is only the GPO that recognizes this test represents wasteful spending, and at a time when the government is looking for cost savings measures, I would expect the other 3 parties to join us and call for the elimination of the EQAO test.  I believe it is reasonable and sensible to redirect the $30 million plus to programs, staff, infrastructure, and resources to further enrich the learning experience of our students.

If the province of Ontario acted on the GPO’s recommendation to cut EQAO, our education system could immediately benefit from one of the following:

  1. Hire over 1000 educational assistants;
  2. Honour an increase in the number of hours custodians and secretaries   humbly request to fulfil their duties;
  3. Prevent the various school closures slated for across Ontario;
  4. Increase the number of specialized teachers for the arts, sciences, technology, and library.

When given the choice, I believe any of these four options, or partial combination of all, are far more relevant areas to invest $30 million dollars in.  For too long, teachers, principals, and school boards have been dictated to by the provincial government to administer the redundant EQAO test.  The opposition parties are not standing up and voicing the concern over the damage that the EQAO test has done.  Now is the time to voice the facts.  It’s time to recognize that in light of the comprehensive testing and reporting that teachers and school boards already do, the EQAO test needs to be eliminated, and responsible spending of taxpayers’ dollars in education needs to begin.
Matt Richter was the Parry Sound-Muskoka Provincial Candidate in 2007 and 2011 and current Education Critic for the Green Party of Ontario