EQAO cancels high school online literacy tests due to ‘technical issues’

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A first-time attempt to have Ontario high school students complete standardized testing online has been cancelled due to “widespread technical issues” on Thursday.

The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), which oversees the tests, says up to 900 high schools across the province were scheduled to take part.

The literacy testing ran into “technical issues” Thursday morning with a number of school boards reporting delays.

READ MORE: Ontario government hopes renewed focus on math strategy will improve EQAO test scores

“We regret to inform you that we have cancelled today’s assessment,” a statement by EQAO said. “We recognize all of the work that schools have done to prepare for this trial. We are disappointed at the outcome of this trial and sincerely apologize for this development.”

Richard Jones, the director of assessment for EQAO, said that only a few students were able to actually get into the assessment, let alone complete a section of it.

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“Since the trial has not worked, the approx 140,000 students involved will now write their literacy tests in March,” he said, adding that would have been the normal time students would have written the traditional test outside of the pilot program.

“The March literacy tests are slated to be offered online for all Ontario grade 10 students, however paper copies will be available for all students should there be technical issues, student preference, or other reasons.”

READ MORE: Half of Grade 6 students in Ontario failed to meet provincial math standard

Jones said the EQAO does not know what caused the technical issue, but are continuing to investigate.

Education Minister Mitzie Hunter said she was “disappointed” after hearing the system failed, after students who were in the pilot program were prepared to write it today.

“It’s disappointing for the students, for the parents who supported them in preparing for it, and of course for the educators who were prepared to do it today,” she said.

“My ministry is very supportive of EQAO moving the test to online, I think this is very important for students, and you can see that by those that signed up today.

“Ultimately it is disappointing it did not work today due to the technical error, but I know EQAO is going to do their investigation and get to the bottom of it.”

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The list of Ontario school boards affected by the cancellation included:

  • Waterloo Catholic District School Board
  • Halton District School Board
  • Peel District School Board
  • Peel Catholic District School Board
  • York District School Board
  • York Catholic District School Board
  • Wellington Catholic District School Board
  • Upper Grand District School Board
  • Renfrew County District School Board
  • Avon Maitland District School Board
  • Grand Erie School Board
  • Thames Valley District School Board
  • Greater Essex County District School Board

A number of school boards decided to resume regular classes in the afternoon while some chose to send students home.

Officials said the voluntary test serves as a trial of the technical readiness of the EQAO and the schools to support online assessments, and is a “risk-free” way for students to take it ahead of the next scheduled assessment in March 2017.

If students pass the online test, it will count, but if they fail or don’t complete it, they will be considered “first-time eligible” for the test next spring.

-With file from The Canadian Press


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