Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Broken EQAO Record

Good evening all,

Now that I have this Blog thing figured out, I am able to fire out some work that I have head sitting in wait. The title might seem fitting to my next blog as again, it is about the EQAO.

Recently, I read about the Peel Board's decision to suspend EQAO testing due to catastrophic math results (CBC). It would seem as though the board has "no confidence" in the test, reasoning a "strong discrepancy" when comparing EQAO and report card results. The PDSB Chair, Janet McDougald, is suggesting that because the Ontario government is reviewing the test, that there is a "problem with the test and curriculum". I find this rhetoric to be short-sighted and self-serving.

The EQAO is an external organization, specializing in the assessment of curricular expectations. Their job is to "assesses how well Ontario’s public education system is developing students’ reading, writing and math skills. EQAO provides reliable and useful information that is used to help improve student achievement and ensure the accountability of school boards." (EQAO Website) What I find comical is that the very organization that is keeping our school system accountable is now under attack for producing an assessment that rigorously assesses and accurately portrays student abilities. The EQAO gets nothing out of having low or high results, but it does put scrutiny on the individual boards with low results. Ask yourself this, would there be a heavy-handed push back if the test results showed a majority of passing students? I believe the boards would work in opposite to what we are seeing now, and try to protect the EQAO, in a self-serving agenda. The results, coming out of years of continual review and revision of these tests, show a trend to be more than a problematic test and the Peel Board's push to suspend EQAO testing is nothing short of putting the cart, before the horse. Maybe I watch too much HBO and Netflix TV series, but the more I watch, the more I agree that Art is an Imitation of Life: Swing first, put them on the defense.

Don Henley got it right, Dirty Laundry.

Peel Board CBC Article
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/pdsb-eqao-suspension-1.4351445

EQAO
http://www.eqao.com/en


EQAO Extended


Good evening all,

I've included my original post from the Course Website with additional comments below.

 Every student has a gap in their learning. Whether it be in their writing and the correct use of then or than, appropriate comma or colon use or just how to structure an article or letter, there are gaps. The same is true of mathematics, and the province is aware of it. The EQAO is focused on improving students' abilities by analyzing trends in cohort, province wide testing achievement. This analysis is showing a negative trend in achievement, and has since tracking began. So with all this attention being placed on province wide testing, why are students' abilities in decline? A simple answer is the data is not being analyzed and utilized correctly, but obviously there is always a few jacks in the deck and it can't be that simple. If you are a fan of George Clooney or Mark Wahlberg, you'll know of the Perfect Storm, and that is what I believe we are creating in our Province.


      I think the EQAO province wide testing could indicate why students have gaps, but I'm not seeing the attempt in their findings. I'm not an activist against the EQAO's province wide testing, in fact, I'm the complete opposite, I think the testing has great potential to right this ship, but I think it is being misused.  The current longitudinal study is only focusing on student achievement as pass/fail. The last time I checked, the Ontario Curriculum was not a pass/fail document, but a listing of skills that students should display by the end of each grade. If the EQAO would analyze and publish the skills expected by the end of the respective grades, and not just pass rates, a clearer picture of where students show weakness on a class, school, community, board and province wide could be viewed and used to reverse the increasing failure rates in mathematics.
       Now the EQAO does publish findings "linking EQAO assessments to 21-century skills," which is a fantastic idea, but these skills are not specific, clump together numerous expectations, and cloud the picture. They are not a waste of time, but they are not specifically assessed in the Ontario Mathematics Curriculum. I like the idea for preparing students for the future, but how about just preparing them for what's next. A great Australian comedian, Tim Minchin, gave an inspiring and thought-provoking graduation speech for the University of Western Australia wherein he said, "You don't have to have a dream... I advocate for passionate, dedication for the pursuit of short-term goals... If you focus too far in front of you, you wont see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye." Like Tim, I believe if you have a dream, great but it takes a million steps to get there. What about those steps? This is where I think the EQAO should shift the focus from pass/fail reports to an intricate analysis of the specific curricular expectations, published for the province to see.

Below is the extension to the original post.

        As seen in all the reports being published by EQAO, students who show math weaknesses early on in their education have a difficult time rebounding and achieving a passing grade on EQAO assessments. What I find the most troubling is the fact that this is well know and documented but still the number of Educational Assistants has been in decline, and in some areas drastically, over the last few years. In 2012, the Toronto District School Board cut 430 EA positions. Their reasoning, declining enrollments. Instead of looking at the number of bodies in a classroom, why not shift the focus onto something more pressing like the province wide testing results that show a steady decline in math scores. Instead of laying-off EAs why not provide them with specialized training to help rectify the more serious problem. Education is about the results, not the bodies in the seats, why else would Ontario worry itself with EQAO testing if were not true.
        In my board, EA positions have decline over the last 4 years. Continual cuts to classroom support undermine the very ideal of education in Ontario. The EQAO report bulletin from 2012, updated 2014, justifies the extra help for students, citing "Early and ongoing intervention to support students who are at risk in kindergarten or the primary or junior level can help them meet the provincial standard in mathematics in later grades." Why on Earth are we taking the very instruments that can apply the interventions, that would help students improve, out of the classroom? In one word, Money. To balance budgets, we are removing support that could help improve math scores. The old adage "You have to spend money, to make money" rings true. Nothing comes for free and I think it's time we stopped lying to ourselves and get some support in the classroom for these students, who are clearly in need.

Feel free to follow the bouncing ball through the information below. In my opinion, enlightening but aggravating.

http://www.eqao.com/en/research_data/Research_Reports/DMA-docs/bulletin-21st-century-skills.pdf
21 Century Skills and the EQAO

https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/09/06/ontario-to-launch-review-of-how-students-are-tested.html
Testing Review


http://www.eqao.com/en/Our_Data_in_Action/video_library/Pages/about-ontarios-province-wide-tests.aspx
What the EQAO is all about: Province Wide Testing


http://www.eqao.com/en/research/research-reports
Reports


http://www.eqao.com/en/research_data/Research_Reports/Pages/student-achievement.aspx
Student Achievement Reports


http://www.eqao.com/en/research_data/Research_Reports/DMA-docs/cohort-tracking-2012.pdf
Longitudinal Study 3-6-9 Cohort 2012


http://www.eqao.com/en/research_data/Research_Reports/DMA-docs/bulletin-cohort-tracking-math-2012.pdf
Bulletin of Findings from Longitudinal Study


http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/early-childhood-education-1.4374820
Gaps in Early Education


https://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/education/2012/04/11/toronto_district_school_board_to_allow_430_laidoff_education_assistants_to_retrain_as_early_childhood_educators.html
TDSB EA Layoffs 2012


https://www.simcoe.com/news-story/5613196-layoffs-looming-for-bruce-grey-educational-assistants/
Bluewater EA Layoffs 2015


http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2016/05/01/layoff-notices-for-bluewater-ed-assistants
Bluewater EA Layoffs 2016


Friday, November 17, 2017

Factile

Factile - https://www.playfactile.com/

This is a website that assists teachers in creating quizzes for their classroom. It is helpful for making Jeopardy style online games that can be used to making teaching and learning more interactive and engaging for both teachers and educators. There are also online games that have been already made by other people that can be utilized as well.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Math Clips and ePractice


Mathclips.ca is a great resource that I found for different math strands and topics from grades 7 - 12. The website provides various resources such as clips, activities, educational games, and tools. Both teachers and students can use this website for additional support or for various ideas.


ESPN

ESPN is a great website that deals with numbers of all the sports around the world. What we can do as teachers is that we can have the students log onto this website and choose a sport that they are most interested in. When they do so, we can assign different questions that they need to answer depending on the sport they have chosen. For example, if a student picks basketball, they would have to go through all 15 games that were played. Questions that we can ask are: make a bar graph representing the scores of each team. Use intervals.

The reason why I chose this website is because each student can choose a sport they mostly like. By doing so, they are interested in what they will be doing no matter whether they understand the lesson or not. If they didn’t understand the lesson, by having them interested in what they are doing will definitely help with having them understand it. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Who Invented 'Zero'?

Yet another link that comes from the NY Times website! This was a great read though, diving into who is responsible for the development of the concept of "zero". There is always such a weight placed on cross-curricular lessons, especially with literacy and math/science. It's nice to try and find articles that connect different subjects. With this example, we have Math, Literacy, and History and its tied to something we use every day. It is about a month old, but worth the read if you're sippin' coffee and doing some KenKen (ha.).

Cheers gang


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Yummy Math


Yummy Math is a great resource that I have found to have math activities that are related to current events. This website provides students and teachers with engaging real life math activities. This past week was Halloween, and there are so many different activities that we can use in our lessons.
So the activity I was looking at was about Holiday Candy Sales. We can start our lesson by asking the students:  
  • Which holidays are associated with candy?
  • For which of those holidays is the most candy sold?
  • What percents of annual candy sales does each holiday contribute?
We this activity, we can have students work on independent think time, then small group discussion, then whole group discussion as kids reason and estimate with these questions. We can have the students translate a pie chart of information on candy sales to actual dollars spent for Halloween, Easter, Christmas/Hanukka, and Valentine's Day. 
We can hand out some candy in the class to the students and ask them to look into the amount of money that is being spent every year on candy during this holiday.