Ontario Grade 3 and Grade 6 teachers have finished yet another stressful round of EQAO testing.
Although this annual testing is frustrating for teachers and can be demoralizing for students, the EQAO tests are not optional. Despite how relevant or irrelevant this testing is perceived to be, no teacher or principal wants their students to score below the provincial average.
So why are so many students falling behind and what can be done about it?
The Math, Reading, and Writing tests all have their own individual issues specific to each grade level but there are a few things that are common to all of them that contribute to students falling behind.
Textbooks, for one, are dated and waste valuable classroom learning time. Budgets are tight, and textbooks are far too expensive. They become outdated and this can only hurt students. Textbooks exacerbate the problem by forcing students to transcribe text from the textbooks into their own notebooks which takes up a lot of classroom time - classroom time that could be better used for learning.
If textbooks aren’t the solution, what about free worksheets downloaded from the Internet?
As budgets get tighter and tighter, educators are forced into scouring the Internet for free downloadable worksheets to hand out to their students. Free worksheets might be appropriate if Ontario teacher’s could guarantee that strict Ontario Curriculum specific expectations were being met. Unfortunately this is not the case. Downloadable worksheets are made for different curriculum jurisdictions. The reading levels of these lessons are often inappropriate. Worksheets that claim they are specifically made for the Ontario Curriculum may not have been created by professionals explicitly familiar with the complex Ontario Curriculum. Using downloaded worksheets in the classroom is akin to playing educational Russian Roulette. A hodge podge of free lessons does not constitute a program.
Textbooks are out, downloading worksheets is risky, what about teachers making their own classroom resources?
Ontario teachers are some of the most capable and hardest working educators in the world. Ontario teachers certainly could make their own classroom resources and develop their own classroom assessment tools but they have been asked to do way too much already! Teachers spend all day teaching in the classroom, they volunteer before and after school, plus they spend night after night marking papers. It is far too much to ask them to develop complex, Ontario Curriculum classroom units and assessments on top of all the work they are already doing. Teachers need to focus on teaching, not on writing their own curriculum. Let’s give them a break. Ontario teachers are being worked to the bone as it is.
Textbooks cost too much, are outdated, and waste valuable classroom learning time. Free downloadable worksheets may not (and usually do not) comply with the complex Ontario Curriculum expectations. Teachers simply don’t have enough time to create their own Ontario specific curriculum units and assessments. So what is the solution?
It is long past time to bring back the workbook. NOT the “skill-drill-kill variety”, but rather pedagogically sound and curriculum specific StudentBOOKS, like the ones from Tree House Press. Why? StudentBOOKS address many of the issues holding students back. Personal StudentBOOKS are up-to-date, comply with ALL the current Ontario Curriculum expectations, are written by professional authors who are thoroughly familiar with EQAO testing, and are ready to use. Personal StudentBOOKS provide students with a place to write most of their work, freeing them from tedious transcribing and giving them more classroom learning time. Personal StudentBOOKS teach the technology component of the curriculum but don’t require any technology themselves. Also, they are comprehensive record keeping tools so teachers and parents can chart progress made and identify next steps. Best of all, Personal StudentBOOKS are inexpensive - usually less than the cost of a single lunch and they last all year! In short, Personal StudentBOOKS free up classroom preparation time, free up classroom learning time, are up-to-date, teach the Ontario specific curriculum expertly, and are the most valuable and economical classroom resource a teacher could have.
EQAO testing is stressful for teachers and students but it doesn’t have to be. Students who use Personal StudentBOOKS in the classroom are taught the Ontario curriculum properly, become confident about what they have learned, proud of the work they have created, and as a result, usually do much better on EQAO testing. Teach the Ontario Curriculum properly, developing confident, proud students who score higher on EQAO tests.
If you are interested in learning more about Personal StudentBOOKS and how they can help improve EQAO scores, please see the links below:
For Grade 3 Teachers
For Grade 6 Teachers