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TCDSB using grade six EQAO results as criteria for admission into highly competitive high school programs

The Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) has been using EQAO results as one criteria to decide which students are accepted into highly-competitive programs at some of its high schools.

CityNews has learned the TCDSB requests grade 6 EQAO results as part of the application for the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement programs.

“These are very, very competitive programs,” said TCDSB spokesperson John Yan.

“We literally receive thousands of applications for a few hundreds spots. So EQAO as well as CAT4 scores give us a more full picture of the potential of the student to achieve.

“It just fills in another piece of the puzzle in terms of a students ability to perform,” he said.

The controversial standardized test is meant to help identify trends in student learning and curriculum areas that need more attention. EQAO has been criticized since it was created in 1996 for a number of reasons including the use of data results.

The tests are written in grades 3, 6, 9 and 10. They are mandated by the province and have different goals and intentions than normal classroom tests. The results are all publicly available to be analyzed by the education community. But critics say the data has been misused for years – and the TCDSB using it as a criteria for admission is a prime example.

“It’s simply not meant to be used to make a decision about an individual student about a program like IB or any other program. It’s irresponsible and it’s lazy,” said Charles Pascal, Professor of Applied Psychology and Human Development, U of T.

The TCDSB says EQAO is just one of a number of criteria it looks at to make its decision. But Pascal warns that reasoning isn’t good enough.

“If you’re gonna use a whole bunch of criteria you better make sure that each one makes sense,” said Pascal.

“So you can’t just say it’s part of a melange or a fruit salad of criteria they’re throwing in. If it’s a bad use of EQAO data – it shouldn’t be in the pot.”

EQAO tells CityNews in a statement:

“EQAO does not support the use of its assessment results as criteria for admission into academic programs.”

They add that their data is meant to “contribute to conversations about improving learning for all students, and point to challenges students face in different subject areas.”

But the TCDSB says there is no law or rule preventing them from using EQAO results as criteria for admission.

“EQAO results are beneficial for a whole host of reasons and we just have chosen to use it as an objective criteria to make a determination if a student has the potential to be successful,” said Yan.

“At the end of the day we want the student to be successful. And if we can through a very intense application process make that determination then I think everyone wins.”