Hamilton public school board cancels January’s EQAO math tests


Published January 8, 2020 at 9:13 pm

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) announced that they have opted to cancel the January 2020 Grade 9 EQAO math assessment.

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) announced that they have opted to cancel the January 2020 Grade 9 EQAO math assessment.

Late Wednesday (Jan. 8), the HWDSB issued a statement saying that due to job action, the administration of the test will be cancelled in January this year and they ask that the ministry cancel June’s assessment as well.

“This test was to be written January 13 – 24. Due to job action, HWDSB has chosen to cancel the administration of the January 2020 Grade 9 EQAO Mathematics Assessment,” Board chair Alex Johnstone said in the statement.

“This test contributes to a portion of a student’s final mark in their Grade 9 Math course. Another method of evaluation suitable to the course content will replace the EQAO Assessment.”

The statement goes on to say that trustees “strongly advocate for the Ministry of Education to cancel the Grade 9 EQAO Mathematics Assessment in June 2020. Grade 9 students in the second semester should be evaluated in the same manner as their peers from the first semester.”

The announcement comes as Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, announced Wednesday that the province will allow school boards to postpone the assessment in the wake of fraught negotiations between teachers’ unions and the province.

The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) is currently taking work-to-rule job action, so it has refrained from participating in EQAO-related activities.

“The EQAO Grade 9 math test provides valuable information to students, families, and the province about how students are performing in critical math skills and concepts. It also supports improved teaching and learning. It should not be in jeopardy for our students,” Lecce said in a statement.

“Regrettably, due to escalation by union leaders and the withdrawal of services by OSSTF, some secondary students will not be prepared for assessment this Monday.”

The postponement announcement came after the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) announced that unless a tentative agreement with the province is reached, members across Ontario will also be taking administrative job action beginning Monday, Jan. 13

Despite OECTA’s announcement, the postponement of the EQAO assessment will only affect public school students at this time.

OECTA will join the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (EFTO) and the OSSTF in taking job action during negotiations.

Teachers’ unions say they’re protesting cuts, increased class sizes, mandatory e-learning and inaction on violence in schools.

Lecce has argued that job action and one-day strikes are being utilized to obtain unreasonable pay raises. At a December 2019 press conference, Lecce called the OSSTF’s demands “unacceptable” and said the union is asking for a $1.5 billion compensation increase.

The province said that in high schools that not administering the test in January, students will need to take the test during the June 2020 administration period.

HWDSB said they will continue to communicate with families as the labour disruption continues and to discuss further implications to student learning.

“We strongly encourage that all parties reach an agreement that’s in the best interest of students,” Johnstone said.

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