Over the past two years, IDA Ontario has been conducting research looking more deeply at the publicly reported EQAO scores.
Specifically, we wanted to know the extent to which the use of assistive technology and scribing has affected the publicly reported reading scores, and how the rates of accommodation have changed over time. While we advocate strongly for students with dyslexia to have access to assistive technology and scribing in class and for testing, we are concerned that when the use of these accommodations on the EQAO reading test is not publicly reported, the true extent to which children are struggling to learn to read when taught using our current curriculum may be under-appreciated.
EQAO has reported a steady increase in the grade 3 and 6 reading scores over the past 15 years. This narrative of improvement has lead to complacency and a reluctance by the Ministry of Education to move forward and adopt a new evidence-based literacy curriculum and policies related to assessment and early intervention.
Our new report takes a deeper look at the EQAO data over the past 15 years has uncovered troubling trends, including:
- A significant increase in the use of assistive technology (AT) and/or scribing on the Grade 3 and 6 EQAO reading assessment rising from less than 3% in 2005 to 18% in 2019.
- A continuously declining number of students completing and passing the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT).
- A steady increase in the percentage of students with special education needs (excluding gifted) across all grades between 2005 and 2019. In 2019 29% of Grade 10 students had an IEP.
- Little to no improvement in the unassisted pass rate for students with IEPs. In 2019 only 8% of Grade 3 students with an IEP passed the reading assessment independently compared with 10% in 2005.
- Increasing delays in learning disability identification through the Identification Placement and Review Committee process (IPRC-LD) for all students.
- Substantial inequity in IPRC-LD designation for students who are classified as English Language Learners (ELL). In 2019 only 1.2% of grade 10 ELL students had an IPRC-LD designation compared to 8.6% of non-ELL students.
- A significant achievement gap between ELL students and non-ELL students. While this gap exists across all assessments it is most significant on the OSSLT where only 38% of ELL students passed the assessment compared to 60% of non-ELL students.
Please read our full report and recommendations here and write to your MPP to demand that Ontario does a better job of ensuring that every child has the instruction they need at school to learn to read and write!