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The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) is an advisory board legislated into creation in 1996 by the Government of Ontario, Canada in response to recommendations made by the Royal Commission on Learning in February 1995. The board's initial duties were to advise the Minister of Education and Training on elementary and secondary education assessment programs.
Initially established as a seven-member advisory board, the EQAO is required to have between seven and nine board members, including a chair, currently Dr. Brian L. Desbiens. The EQAO has a $15 million annual budget to conduct its operations.
The responsibilities of the Office include:
- develop tests for both French- and English-language students,
- administer the tests, in co-operation with school boards,
- evaluate test results,
- manage Ontario's participation in national and international tests,
- assess the effectiveness of the system via qualitative and quantitative measures,
- make recommendations to the Government of Ontario to improve education quality,
- report aggregate test results and system practices to the public.
The EQAO issues province-wide standardized tests annually. Students attending Ontario education facilities are required to take the respective tests at their grade level.
- Grade 3: reading, writing and mathematics testing, beginning in 1996;
- Grade 6: reading, writing and mathematics testing, beginning in 1996;
- Grade 9: mathematics testing; and
- Grade 10: reading and writing testing (known as the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test).
The establishment of the EQAO, and in particular standardized testing throughout Ontario, has been criticized by a number of groups. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation (OSSTF) has frequently questioned the need for standardized testing; a press release issued in March 2005, after the hiring of Pascal as the EQAO chair, conveyed this position.
The Office publishes little technical information about its tests, and its staff tends to be drawn from the provincial education establishment. For example, former chair Charles Pascal, is a former deputy minister of education. The Office's impartiality is routinely questioned each time it issues test results which might be taken as reflecting well on the provincial government.
- ^ Canadian Legal Information Institute: Education Quality and Accountability Office Act, 1996
- ^ Government of Ontario - Ministry of Education: The Education Quality and Accountability Office
- ^ Education Quality and Accountability Office - About EQAO: Chair of the EQAO Board of Directors
- ^ Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation: New chair for Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) – but same old testing story