The Hunger Games Are Almost Upon Us

March 24, 2019 at 11:00 pm (Uncategorized)

The current Ontario government, the Conservative Party, was elected last summer. They are currently engaging in what they euphemistically call education reform, but it has parents, students and teachers concerned about the future of education in the province.

The last time the Conservative Party was in power in Ontario, among other things, it introduced a literacy test at grade 10. Arguing for a need for a basic literacy standard, the government introduced a mandatory test on which every student in the province needed to score 70 % to pass, and without which they could not graduate from high school. Among the tests of literacy were brief grammar sections (grammar is no longer taught in school), essays (which were never called as such),  and a newspaper report, (presumably because journalism is an expanding career field and this is something students will need) Despite being critical of the test, the opposition Liberals, when they came to power, did nothing to change it.

Pass rates from the test according to EQAO’s own data are in the low 90’s for first-time takers from the academic stream, and in the forties for those in the applied stream. (The applied stream also often includes ESL students for whom the cultural gap is sometimes too wide to bridge). So what happens to those kids who don’t pass? They can take it again, or they can take a credit course version.

But there’s a catch. In order to  take the course, you must first have attempted the test (i.e., tried and failed).

This year’s test is on Wednesday. My son is taking the test, and I have no doubt he’ll pass. But there will be other students at his school, and schools across the province, who will not pass. Many of those kids have been criticized throughout much of their lives by society (and yes, probably by some of their teachers too). Now, they are being asked to write a stressful test, in order to qualify for the chance to take a course. It just seems cruel.

 

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