Monday, October 19, 2009

EQAO for K-8 Teachers

A few weeks ago, I met with several Grade 3 and 6 teachers to unpack the EQAO data from Spring 2009. Each group got an overview of how the questions were constructed, organized, and scored. We then looked at each school's IIR report to identify trends and patterns. While there were certain questions that were problematic for certain schools, the trends were obvious for the entire FOS, board, and province. Our primary and junior division students struggled with the following:
  • solving multi-step problems
  • answering multiple choice questions
This was not a surprise to many. EQAO has made these observations for many years. Classroom teachers make these observations on a regular basis, even in non-testing grades.
Each group spent a lot of time discussing the 'why'. We talked about the need for more multi-step problems in classrooms, beyond the problem solving Fridays or Tuesdays. We also discussed the need for the:
  • consistent use of concrete materials (manipulatives)
  • modelling of explicit mathematical language by the classroom teacher (e.g., expression, equation, equality)
  • application of the Four Step Problem Solving Model (i.e., understand the problem, make a plan, carry out the plan, reflect on the solution)
  • modelling of appropriate problem solving strategies (e.g., act it out, make a model, draw a diagram, guess and check, make a table)
These strategies are appropriate for any K-8 classroom and divisions/schools are strongly encouraged to focus on these for school improvement, rather than a particular strand or concept.

One of the biggest discussion points in all the groups was around the spotlight placed on Grade 3 and 6 teachers. They're feeling the pressure! EQAO has renamed the assessment to send the clear message that the Primary Division Assessment involves K-3 teachers, and the Junior Division Assessment involves 4-6 teachers. Intermediate teachers are not off the hook either! Your students are coming into your classroom with a wealth of knowledge and understanding that they learned from their K-6 teachers.

As classroom teachers, we all need to understand where our students came from and where they're going.

Start by looking at the assessment booklets. You can find them (Primary, Junior, Grade 9) in the SE2 Math Lab conference on TEL.

Thoughts? Questions? Leave me a comment (it's completely anonymous!).


  1. The four step model is great, but the first step is the one where most kids just skip right through merrily on their way to getting it over with. My kids' school uses a modified version of Polya's four steps called DR. APE. It's another one of those acronyms - this one stands for Draw a picture of the problem (not your solution!!!!); Restate the problem in your own words; Answer the problem; Prove why you think your answer is correct; and Explain or Extend your answer.

    The real bonus part of this is that kids spend a good deal of time drawing out the problem and paraphrasing it, i.e., understanding the problem. And consequently demonstrating it for the lovely EQAO markers BTW.

    The other parts are pretty good too. The acronym is easier to understand than the Polya process jargon for younger kids to boot.


  2. Thanks for the dr. ape model. I'm definitely going to give this a run. Something to slow the process down and allow adequate time to get a clear grasp of the problem will lead to better results.


  3. Hi Devika,
    Thanks for your helpful ideas which I have used in my classroom. Can you post a Multiplication Three part lesson for grade 3.