Ontario NDP, Liberals pledge to overhaul standardized EQAO testing


Ontario's New Democrats and Liberals are promising to end the province's Education Quality and Accountability Office testing -- at least in its current form -- if they are elected next month.

The annual standardized tests provide the provincial government with valuable tools to measure student achievement and assess programming, but for some students, the tests mean nothing but stress and anxiety.

The N-D-P says it would work collaboratively with educators to determine how random sampling could spot early trends and areas for improvement.

The Liberals say they would work with parents, teachers and education experts to develop a new assessment strategy in order to capture and address the pandemic's impact on learning.

Annie Kidder, the executive director for education advocacy group People for Education, said the EQAO testing should be done in a different way, such as using representative samples.

She says aside from testing in reading, writing and math, the office could also be used for measuring student well-being and pandemic recovery.

The Progressive Conservatives' unpassed budget, which is serving as their election platform, contained scant references to elementary and secondary education, aside from touting its already-announced Learning Recovery Action Plan.

That 600-million-dollar plan aims to help students recover from COVID-19 disruptions and includes expanded access to free tutoring.

But four years ago, the Progressive Conservatives campaigned on a promise to ``fix the current EQAO testing regime,'' which PC Leader Doug Ford often tied to criticisms of declining math scores, directed at the previous Liberal government.