Identifying struggling students early essential, test results suggest

TheGlobeandMail.com – According to new findings, students who fail to meet Ontario math standards in early grades are likely to have problems into high school
Published on Monday, Aug. 30, 2010.   Kate Hammer

Students who fail to meet provincial math standards in early grades are likely to continue to struggle in high school, according to test results released Monday which tracked student performance for the first time over a period of six years.

The results, which were released Monday by the Education Quality and Accountability Office, tracked student-by-student results on province-wide math tests administered in grades 3, 6, and 9. They suggest that identifying and providing support for struggling students at an early age will be essential toward improving student achievement in Ontario.

The results also showed that student performance is stuck at a stubborn plateau for Grade 3 reading and Grade 6 mathematics. Over the last five years, performance on the Grade 9 academic math test has climbed 11 percentage points, but performance on the applied mathematics test has remained low, with only 40 per cent of students meeting the standard.

“Year after year, EQAO’s assessment results provide significant indicators of the public education system’s collective success in helping students learn the key skills that are required to build successful futures in the 21st century,” said Dr. Brian Desbiens, Chair of EQAO’s Board of Directors. “There are certainly areas of progress worth celebrating, but there also remain areas that will require further attention and system-wide interventions if we are to see continued progress.”

Of the 14,716 students enrolled in the Grade 9 applied mathematics course in 2010 who had failed to meet provincial standards when they were in Grade 3 and Grade 6, 71 per cent failed to meet standards again in high school. There were 5,603 students who had met standards in Grade 3 and Grade 6, and only 25 per cent of them failed to meet standards in high school.

The EQAO has drawn criticism from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, who say that the test forces them to focus on scores rather than balanced learning.

The EQAO will release student achievement results for each school and school board in Ontario on September 15th.

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