How to reduce stress around these tests.
The EQAO tests are coming up for students in Grades 3 and 6, and many parent are wondering how to ease the stress for their children. The province-wide assessments of literacy and mathematics take place over three and a half-days in May or June.
But Jill and her three kids, ages 10, 12, and 14, are ready. “When the kids were younger and writing the tests for the first time, I explained to them what EQAO was and that it was important to give it their best effort,” says Jill. “Now that they’ve been through it they know what to expect and are less anxious.”
Even so, Jill takes steps to ensure they can handle the extra load. “When they come home after the first day of testing, they’re pretty tired, so I don’t schedule activities on those nights and keep it a low-key week,” says Jill. “I give them nutritious food to eat and make sure they take water bottles to school ‚Äì little things to help them get through.”
The Education Quality and Accountability Office was created in 1996 to provide an independent gauge of student achievement.
“EQAO tests provide a snapshot of student performance over a period of time,” says Lorraine Giroux, EQAO Education Officer. “The questions are developed by Ontario educators and are field tested with Ontario students.”
The language portions of the test assess students’ ability to understand what they read and communicate their thoughts clearly in writing. The math portion tests their ability to use appropriate math skills to solve problems according to the grade expectations.
The Primary Division Assessment is based on the work done in Grades 1, 2 and 3. The Junior Division Assessment is based on the work done in Grades 4, 5 and 6. In both cases, there are three booklets, two for reading and writing, and one for math, including multiple choice and open response questions.
The results are not included on the child’s report card.
Dealing with stress
Giroux says that teachers and parents can work together to reduce the stress for children.
“Teachers do a good job of preparing students through their regular literacy and math work. The tests are based on the curriculum students are learning already,” continues Giroux. “Students usually practise with a sample test so that they know what the test looks like and are less nervous.”
Some schools make it a fun time, with snacks and other treats during the day to create a relaxed atmosphere.
Giroux says that parents can help by talking to the teacher about how their child is doing and what areas need work. To encourage literacy, she advises parents to regularly read with their children, discuss what they’ve read, and listen to them read.
To encourage understanding of math, parents can incorporate numbers into everyday activities. Examples include comparing prices at the store to see which product is a better buy, adding up how much has been spent, and letting children count how much change they receive.
For further information about the tests, call 1-888-327-7377 or visit www.eqao.com.
Joanne Culley is a writer and documentary producer with two sons; firstname.lastname@example.org or www.joanneculleymediaproductions.com.
Tips for Parents
º Stay connected with the school, communicating with your child’s teacher regularly.
º During the testing period, make sure your child has adequate rest and is well nourished.
º If possible, don’t schedule any medical appointments for your child during the testing period and ensure their attendance on those days.
º Reassure your children about the testing and address any concerns they might have.
º Download sample tests, available for all levels, at www.eqao.com to allow your child to get a feel for the kinds of questions that are asked.