Friday, August 28, 2009

Missing out on EQAO

OK, lash me later.
In recent years, I don't typically spend time reporting on the provincial release of EQAO results on the two occasions every year when they are announced. There are several reasons, the main one being these provincial-level results, while relevant in the big picture, are not relevant enough to my readership and coverage area for me to spend time working on a story. This despite a personal e-mail and phone call from EQAO earlier this week letting me know the results were released. As such, when my paper does run provincial EQAO stories, we grab something from SM's Queen's Park bureau or, perhaps, even a wire service.
Not that there wasn't a smorgasbord of coverage.
The EQAO itself has also been upping the ante with the amount of information available to the public with every subsequent release of test results. As a result, the testing process itself is becoming increasingly more transparent as the full assessments now routinely accompany the announcement on the releases. Being the data-nut I am, I particularly enjoy the recent move to show more longitudinal cohort analysis (you have to look at page 2 in that document). As everyone gets better working with the data, you get a more complete picture (a moving picture, as opposed to a snapshot) that usually reinforces the success of data-driven decision making.
Interestingly, I noted a lot of the early tweets and headlines from media focused on the 40 per cent of students who weren't meeting a Level 3 standard. OK, but why aren't you telling me how many scored a 2 -- which is roughly equivalent to a 'C' grade? Lots of people (and parents) were perfectly happy with Cs through their entire school career.
As the day wore on, the headlines at least became a little more balanced, with first mention of the 60 per cent who reached Level 3 or 4. Sixty per cent achieving at least Level 3 -- equal to about a B grade, or mid-70 per cent -- on the provincial test? Sure, it's not the 75 per cent goal set by the Liberals six years ago, but I can't help but feel that's not bad. EQAO results coverage suffers from bad reporting by journalists who don't or can't take the time to get a full understanding of what the results mean. So, it becomes a collection of articles mentioning percentages, with quips and quotes from talking heads without any context as to what it all means.
Go see the tests, say the primary (Grade 3) one. Language 1, Language 2, Math. Ask yourself if the average eight- and nine-year-old you know could ace that test. Better yet, ask yourself if you could ace that test.
As for me, I'm waiting for the school- and board-level results to be released, which usually happens in mid-September.


Anonymous said...

A level 2 is not average. A 3 is.