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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 family


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 “EQAO.”

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 following URL: http://www.eqao.com/Parents/parents.aspx?status=logout&Lang=E

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 EQAO assessment?

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 you’ve read
  • 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 her homework
  • Support your child’s interests and celebrate his or her successes
  • 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 these 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 4

The student has demonstrated the required knowledge and skills. Achievement exceeds the provincial standard.

Level 3

The student has demonstrated most of the required knowledge and skills. Achievement meets the provincial standard.

Level 2

The student has demonstrated some of the required knowledge and skills. Achievement approaches the provincial standard.

Level 1

The student has demonstrated some of the required knowledge and skills in 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 me?”

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 like:

  • What is the big idea or the life lesson behind this story or article?
  • 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? 

Literacy Activities

Check off the ones you try with your family!

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 directions

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 cards

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 together

Read a news story out loud and have a talk about what you think about it

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 sentences

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 family member

Make up a new verse to one of your favourite songs

Math Activities

Check off the ones you try with your family!

        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 day.)

        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 spinners/dice

        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 different activities.

        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 together.

        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 tell you?”

Please note: This handout is not an official EQAO document.

Opinions expressed are those of its author, Janine Schaub.

For more information please contact: