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29% of Ontario kindergarten students not meeting Grade 3 targets: study

Nearly one-third of Ontario’s kindergarten students do not go on to meet the province’s Grade 3 standards for reading, writing and math, according to a recent study.

The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) found that 29 per cent of students were “vulnerable” or “at risk” in their language and cognitive development.

The EQAO, an arms-length government agency that assesses Ontario’s public school students, asked teachers to rate more than 72,000 English-speaking students in the province.

“Two important lessons can be drawn from this study,” EQAO’s CEO Marguerite Jackson said in a statement.

“First, the early nurturing and development of the whole child clearly matters and, second, the education system must continue to structure its programs in ways that account for and support students at all developmental stages at the start of schooling.”

When looking specifically at reading, only 30 per cent of the Grade 3 students who had been rated by their kindergarten teachers as “vulnerable” in language and cognitive development and 49 per cent  of those who  had been rated “at risk” met the provincial standard for reading in Grade 3.

By comparison, 68 per cent of students who had been rated “ready” and 82 per cent who had been rated “very ready” in kindergarten met the provincial reading standard in Grade 3.

Not all students who were on track to meet their targets – those who had been found “ready” or “very ready” – went on to achieve the provincial standard.

And some of those students who were rated “vulnerable” went on to catch up to their peers.

“Clearly, a child’s readiness for school in kindergarten neither guarantees nor prevents later academic achievement,” Jackson said.

The EQAO study linked students Early Development Instrument (EDI) results from kindergarten to their test results in Grade 3. The study was based on a sample of 72,903 English-language students and predates the introduction of full-day kindergarten.

The EDI is administered in each school once every three years.