New Insights into the Status of Student Achievement in Ontario

By Joel Clodman

The following insights were obtained from an individual-level student data base, capturing the basic demographics and achievement results (raw and categorical) from the 2004-05 EQAO Assessments.

It is interesting to note that in Grades 3 and 6, about 45 per cent of all students scored at Level 3 or higher in all three assessments. When broken-down by gender, we find that about 50 per cent of all females in both grades scored at level 3 or higher in all assessments.

The official Language of the student is also an important consideration here. In English language schools, about 45 per cent of Grade 3 students each met the standard across all three assessments, as compared to 40 per cent of Grade 3 students in French Language schools. In Grade 6 the trend is reversed. About 44 per cent of Grade 6 English language students are in our category, as compared to 55 per cent of Grade 6 French language students.

Examination of an individual student's progress across all three assessment areas also provides us with a very instructive indicator for the identification of a school's achievement status. There are over 100 schools in Ontario in which 75 per cent or more of the schools combined Grade 3 and 6 populations have met the provincial standard on all three assessments. Clearly, the indicator has applications for many of our programs: schools of excellence, etc.

Interestingly, in our group of Grade 3 and 6 students who excelled across all subject assessment areas, there were over 1600 students who had a certified exceptionality (excluding gifted). This group of special education students is perhaps worthy of further study and attention.

Students on the Margin of Success

There are over 7,000 students (in Grades 3 and 6 combined) who scored between 2.7 and 2.9 (very high end of Level 2) on all three assessments. The size of this highly consistent group is surprising. Equally intriguing is the fact that if all of these students made the marginal movement to Level 3, the group of students currently meeting the standard in each assessment area would increase by about three percentage points.

The numbers become more staggering and encouraging when one considers students who are at the margin of success for Grade 6 Reading only. There are over 19,000 students in Grade 6 who are currently between 2.7 and 2.9 (very high end of Level 2) in Grade 6 Reading. If each of these students made the marginal shift to level 3 or higher, and we retained our current group of students at Levels 3 and 4 in Grade 6 Reading, we would have reached our provincial target of 75 per cent for Grade 6 reading!

And the numbers of students on the margin of success(scores of 2.7-2.9) for Grade 6 Writing is even more exciting: we have over 13,000 Grade 6 students scoring 2.7, and another 17,000 students scoring 2.9, for a total of over 30,000 students on the margin of success!

Finally, consider the Grade 6 Mathematics situation. Here we have over 10,000 Grade 6 students scoring 2.7, and another 11,500 scoring 2.9, for a total of over 21,500 Grade 6 students on the margin of success.

The individual-level data base of individual student scores and demographics provides literacy teams with a strong tool in which to further sharpen their focus on student achievement. In many cases, it also provides the team, and educators in the field, with motivating and encouraging information.

Some teams in the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat are already making use of this rich source of information, and have gained important insights for the development of their strategies.