Helping Your Child Prepare for EQAO 2011
Janine Schaub, TDSB Literacy Coach for NW5 and NW6
What’s in this handout for parents?
Internet links for information about EQAO
Answers to some questions frequently asked by parents
Tips on how to help your child prepare
Literacy and math everyday activities for your whole
What is EQAO?
EQAO stands for the “Education Quality and Accountability
Office.” EQAO administers assessments of Reading, Writing and
Mathematics to grade 3, 6, 9 and 10 students. These assessments
are based on the reading, writing and mathematics expectations in
The Ontario Curriculum. Most people refer to the assessments as
Why do students have to write EQAO?
The results from the assessments provide information on student
achievement to the student, the school, the Toronto District School
Board and the Ministry of Education. Data from the assessments is
used by educators to understand where students are succeeding and
where they need help. The tests also help target resources where
they are needed.
As a parent, where can I find more information about EQAO?
Parents with questions can call an EQAO official at 1-888-327-
7377 or visit the website at www.eqao.com.
The parent section of the EQAO website can be accessed at the
An EQAO document called, “What parents need to know about
province-wide testing” can be found at:
There’s also a 5 minute YouTube video about the province-wide
tests available at:
How are students prepared to write the EQAO assessment?
Every question on the EQAO primary and junior assessments is
based directly on the curriculum. When teachers follow the
Ministry of Education’s curriculum guidelines, they are preparing
their students for the EQAO assessments. If you would like to see
the curriculum guidelines you can access them at:
What kinds of skills will my child need to be successful on the
Test-taking skills and strategies are taught as a part of all formal
education and these same skills are very useful in daily life. Your
child practices test-taking skills on a regular basis and many test-
taking strategies are incorporated in daily work. Everyone needs to
know how to perform successfully on a test and have a variety of
tools with which to answer questions. Filling out a job application,
writing the Canadian Citizenship Exam, or completing the written
portion of a driving test are ordinary examples of test-taking tasks.
How can I help my child prepare for the EQAO assessment?
Read with your child and have conversations about what
Have discussions about ideas and ask your child to explain
his or her thinking to you
Incorporate basic math and literacy skills into your family
life (some sample activities are included in this handout)
Encourage your child to complete all assignments and his or
Support your child’s interests and celebrate his or her
Communicate regularly with his or her teacher
Make sure your child gets enough rest, eats a healthy diet and
feels safe and loved by you
I hear my child talking about EQAO “levels”. What do Levels
1, 2, 3 and 4 mean?
“Levels” describe a student’s achievement on a scale of 1 to 4.
Level 3 is the provincial standard. Teachers across the province
use the achievement levels from The Ontario Curriculum to
evaluate student work.
The following are brief descriptions of the various reporting
categories for this assessment:
Level The student has demonstrated the required knowledge and skills. Achievement
4 exceeds the provincial standard.
Level The student has demonstrated most of the required knowledge and skills.
3 Achievement meets the provincial standard.
Level The student has demonstrated some of the required knowledge and skills.
2 Achievement approaches the provincial standard.
Level The student has demonstrated some of the required knowledge and skills in
1 limited ways. Achievement falls much below the provincial standard.
What kinds of questions will be on the writing and reading
portions of the EQAO assessment?
Some of the questions are multiple choice and others are called
“open-ended” questions. Open-ended questions require your child
to use the information from the text as well as his or her own ideas
in the response. When your child backs up his or her answer with
facts, this evidence can come from the text or it can come from the
student’s own background knowledge. When you have
conversations with your child, get in the habit of asking him or her,
“What makes you say that?’ or “Can you explain your thinking to
If my child needs more practice reading what kinds of books
should I provide that could help with EQAO?
The EQAO assessment’s reading selections include short stories,
factual articles, informational text, poetry and graphic texts like
posters and labelled diagrams. Doing any reading at home in any
language will help your child. Reading different kinds of texts will
help expose your child to material for different audiences and
purposes. Generally, teachers find that students could use more
exposure to poetry and graphic texts. Discussing song lyrics or
talking about billboards, advertisements, and menus, for example,
will help familiarize your child with these text forms.
What kinds of EQAO questions give kids the most trouble?
In general most teachers agree that students struggle with EQAO
questions that ask them to identify the main idea, to make
inferences and to explain point of view. You can help your child
to build his or her understanding while reading by asking questions
What is the big idea or the life lesson behind this story or
What might the author be trying to tell us?
What will you remember most from this story or article?
How does the personality of the character in the story
different from your personality? How do your feelings
compare to those of a character in the story?
Can you describe an instance where you or someone you
know experienced a comparable event in the story?
How does the author’s message relate to your life?
Check off the ones you try with your
Play with words
Bake a favourite recipe.
Tell a story about growing up.
Tell the story of your birth
Write out a phone message for a member of your family
When you are travelling with your parent or guardian, give the
Tell a traditional story about your culture
Put a message on a sticky note and place it on the fridge for your
parent or guardian
Look at family photographs and tell stories together
Make up stories when you are travelling together
Make a scrapbook about something that interests you
Play board games
Read poetry/write poetry
Make up tongue twisters
Look up words you don’t know in a dictionary or an online dictionary
Read a news story out loud and have a talk about what you think
Learn a song and teach it to your parent or guardian
Write an email together to a friend or family member
Get some refrigerator word magnets and play with them
Write a thank you card together
Watch a TV show together and talk about the main idea
Watch a movie and see whether you can summarize it in just five
Read a book together and then watch a movie version. Talk about the
differences between the versions
Write out the family shopping list
When you are travelling together, point out street signs, ads and other
text that is interesting
Read a computer manual or online instructions together
Put something together that comes with plans
Read something while thinking about the author’s message
Write a letter to yourself to help you think through a problem
“Read between the lines” and see if you can make an inference about
the way someone in your family is behaving. (Example: “Based on the
fact that you are rushing around the house frantically looking in every
drawer, I’m going to infer that you’ve lost your keys again, Dad.”)
Make a connection between an idea in a book and something from
your own experience
Go through an old photo album with a family member and take turns
telling each other stories. If you don’t know the people in the photos,
make up stories that might fit
Give a five minute summary of a movie you recently enjoyed to a
friend but remember not to ruin the story by giving away the ending!
Translate a “tweet” or text message into full sentences if your mom or
dad have difficulty with the language of texting
Translate a conversation from one language to another for a friend or
Make up a new verse to one of your favourite songs
Check off the ones you try with your
Play with numbers
Estimate speed/distance/time relationships while traveling with your
family. What was the average speed of the last trip you took?
Examine maps with your family. Estimate distances. Find locations.
Make a favourite recipe together
Log and graph sports scores over time. Find trends.
Log and then graph daily temperatures over a one-week period with
your family. (Make sure you take the temperature at the same time each
Estimate quantities and volumes during activities like gardening,
planning food for a trip, or collecting recycling
Track three different stocks and see how they do in one month
Do mental calculations such as estimating grocery or restaurant bills
Pay cash for a purchase at the register. Count your change to make sure
the cashier gave you back the correct amount of money.
Pay cash for a purchase with exactly the required money
Read stories with your child, identifying mathematical elements like
patterns, shapes, numbers, and concepts
Play family games like Blokus, Battleship, Chess, and games with
Identify geometric and number patterns in your everyday routine
Measure household items with non-standard tools (spoon, magazine) as
well as standard tools (ruler, tape measure)
Calculate how long it will take to save for a certain item your family
would like to buy using your money from part-time jobs or chores
Weigh the family and pets. Chart the weights.
Calculate a bat/run average for a specific baseball player
Make a weekly schedule with your family. Make time estimations for
Read signs with your family while driving. Specifically look for
advertising that has a math concept imbedded in it. Talk about it.
Explain how to calculate the tip at a restaurant. Do the calculation
Open a bank account. Many “youth accounts” have brochures that
explain interest rates. Read the literature together and decide which type
of account will earn the best rates, minimize your transaction costs, and
meet your minimum balance plans.
Look at sports statistics. Have a discussion about an interesting trend.
Go grocery shopping together. Compare prices. Estimate price per
kilogram. Which is the better price?
Talk about items “on sale.” Do some internet research to find out
whether other vendors have similar products costing more or less.
Talk about lotteries. Examine the odds.
Talk about how a credit card works. Look at a statement together.
Look at your electricity, gas or water bill. Which commodity costs your
family the most?
Look at charts and graphs that appear in newspapers or magazines you
receive. Find one that has information that interests your family. Talk
about the chart or graph.
Examine different cell phone packages. Which is the best value for your
calling pattern and payment preferences?
Calculate how much water it takes to fill the bathtub. Calculate how
much water is used during a five minute shower. Calculate how much
water it would take to water a residential lawn.
Go to youtube.com and type in “math tricks” into the search line.
Explore some of the videos with your family.
The next time you are in a car and someone is filling it with gas, notice
the price per litre. Figure out how many litres you could buy for five
bucks. Ask the person who is driving how much fuel his or her car uses
per kilogram and then figure out how far you could go for five dollars.
As a favour, double check someone else’s calculations or offer to do the
calculation for that person. “I figured out which is the better deal. Can I
Please note: This handout is not an official EQAO document.
Opinions expressed are those of its author, Janine Schaub.
For more information please contact: