2016—2017 · Vol. 44 No. 3



EQAO gets another failing grade

Failing Grade, F-For more than a year, OSSTF/FEESO had been expressing serious concerns about The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) plans to move the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) online. Many of those concerns were validated on October 20, when the launch of the online OSSLT came to a crashing halt due to what EQAO called “widespread technical issues.”

OSSTF/FEESO has always had concerns about the value of the OSSLT, but had expressed a number of specific concerns about moving the test online during consultations with the EQAO Advisory Group in 2014, and again after pilot testing in 2015 revealed a number of issues. Those issues included accessibility, security and adequate access to computers.

The concerns expressed by OSSTF/FEESO were over the ability of the system to confirm that the student being tested was indeed the student indicated by the student number in the system, the possibility that test results could be hacked or tampered with, and the fact that tests would be subject to computer analysis rather than being scored by qualified teachers.

After the October 20 test was halted by EQAO, OSSTF/FEESO President Paul Elliott issued a statement to the media. “This high-stakes testing already places an enormous stress on students, and the addition of a system-wide failure to that experience serves only to elevate that stress to an entirely unacceptable level,” said Elliott. “The learning opportunities that have been lost to students in order to prepare for this electronic test, combined with today’s abject failure of the system, should be more than enough to force the Ministry of Education to completely reassess this current testing regime.”

OSSTF/FEESO Educational Services Department staff continue to have concerns about EQAO’s pursuit of a computer-based testing model for its standardized tests. Those concerns include questions about insufficient computers for students’ use, issues of equity and fairness between students using differing technologies (e.g. older computers, iPads, smartphones), reliable and consistent connectivity during the assessment, the availability of IT staff for troubleshooting at every school site, the opportunity to re-write the test if problems are experienced, and the mental health and well-being of students who find an online version of the OSSLT particularly stressful.

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