Ontario students’ math scores on EQAO tests either low and stagnant or falling

By Allison Jones

Ontario students’ math scores on standardized tests across three grades have either fallen or are stagnant at low rates, which the agency that administers the tests is attributing to COVID-19.

The Education Quality and Accountability Office released assessment results Thursday for the first round of standardized tests that students have written since before the pandemic.

The 2021-22 school year results show that 47 per cent of Grade 6 students met the provincial standard in math, down slightly from 50 per cent in 2018-19.

For Grade 9 students, 52 per cent met the provincial standard, down from 75 per cent three years ago, and 59 per cent of Grade 3 students met the provincial math standard, compared to 60 per cent in 2018-19.

“EQAO data show that Ontario’s student outcomes are similar to those of other jurisdictions, where the pandemic has had a more significant impact on mathematics than on literacy achievement,” the agency said in a press release.

The Progressive Conservative government campaigned in 2018 on bringing in a new math curriculum, criticizing the former Liberal government’s so-called Discovery Math curriculum and years of declining EQAO math scores.

Ontario introduced its new math curriculum into classrooms in September 2020, framing it as getting back to basics and giving students skills to get jobs of the future.

The latest round of EQAO testing was the first to be done online, and experienced some technical difficulties. 

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario said in the spring that some students were reporting significant system lags for the digital tests, while others have said they have completed entire sections, only to find the answers didn’t save.

The union had previously called for the testing to be paused due to concerns about “deficiencies” in the planning and preparation of the new digital format.

Literacy results for Grade 6 students were roughly the same when compared to the last year before the pandemic, with 85 per cent meeting the provincial standard in reading and 84 per cent meeting the writing standard.

For Grade 3 students, 73 per cent met the reading standard, compared to 77 per cent in 2018-19, and 65 per cent met the writing standard, down from 72 per cent three years ago.

Results from the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test, which measures literacy standards up to the end of Grade 9, were also released Thursday. The EQAO says overall success rates are high, though it’s more difficult to compare them to the previous set of figures. 

More Grade 11 and non-graduating Grade 12 students took the literacy test because they couldn’t during the pandemic, and they had higher success rates than Grade 10 students.