‘Technical issue’ with EQAO leads to pause of standardized testing in Ontario

After a few frustrating days of technical issues, standardized testing in elementary schools across Ontario — all online for the first time — was paused Friday. It remains unclear when it will resume.

The Education Quality and Accountability Office — an arm’s-length government agency that oversees the so-called EQAO tests — said Friday that “a technical issue” on its assessment platform is “slowing the system for some users.” It said the system was offline and that it was “working to resolve it as quickly as possible.”

As a result, EQAO testing is on hold across the province until those technical issues get sorted. Evaluations of reading, writing and math for students in grades 3 and 6 began May 4 and schools have until June 24 to complete them.

In an email to superintendents on Friday afternoon, the Toronto District School Board said “assessments will not continue until EQAO has confirmed that technical issues related to the e-assessment have been resolved.”

“EQAO has assured school boards that schools will not be asked to continue with their assessments until there is 100 per cent assurance that the system is stable and able to accommodate the load of all students signing on, especially in the morning,” reads the email .

“They have confirmed that no student data has been lost for those students who were kicked off the system part way through their assessments.”

On Friday, the Ministry of Education said EQAO is looking into the situation, and the scope of the impact, and that no further information was available.

In recent days, teachers and principals have complained about lengthy delays logging in at school, students losing work, getting disconnected and an incredibly slow system that is unusable for some. Even teachers who arrived at school an hour or two early, to beat the rush logging in, were having issues.

EQAO first reported having technical issues on Wednesday. It was expected to provide an update by end of Friday.

Licinio Miguelo, spokesperson at the York Region District School Board, said schools have reported varying levels of disruption. Some were able to complete their scheduled assessments with some navigation, while others had to stop administering the tests because teachers and students couldn’t log on.

“We acknowledge the frustration of our school administrators, staff and students have experienced given the technical issues with the new e-assessment system,” he said.

When asked if the board would consider asking the province to halt EQAO testing for the remainder of the year, he said it would “wait for direction from EQAO and make decisions in the best interest for our system.”

In a statement, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario called the glitches “inexcusable given the Ministry of Education had the opportunity to pause EQAO again this year.”

“These predictable technical issues add unnecessary stress for students and teachers during a time that is already quite challenging,” the federation said. “Educators have significant concerns about the well-being and mental health of students. Adding EQAO-related anxiety and stress at this time is totally irresponsible.”

In recent months, several school boards had asked the province to pause testing this year, but the government moved ahead with its plans.

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