EQAO Testing Scandal: Fallout

Tonight we lost a very good principal. One who helped shape and define the culture of our french immersion school. At issue were some test results. I have been on my daughter’s school council for a few years now, at Team Hiboux, a school under the umbrella of the Thames Valley District School Board. Several months ago our school EQAO test results were called into question. Tonight, I sat in a room and listened to the talking heads from the EQAO (Education Quality and Accountability Office) say that “the rules are very clear” and “all responsibility lies with the administrator.” Some discrepancy with rules of how the tests are opened, they said. It was an anonymous tip from some clearly courageous (read: cowardly) individual who decided they needed to stir things up a bit at a school where the children are some of the brightest I’ve ever met and the teachers are some of the hardest-working. Karen Wilkinson of EQAO noted that there was no evidence suggesting that the kid’s test results were compromised. And yet we lost our beloved principal Francine Rheault. My daughter took the tests last year in grade three. It was a horrible year. A year the entire curriculum seems driven by writing a test. The teachers are stressed out. The kids pick up on it. Some of the kids take tests fine. Some of my friend’s children threw up a lot the night before the test. Others were so stressed by the test they couldn’t sleep. Other kids cried the night before. In the end, none of it matters. The tests results stand. The grades stand. Our children are still brilliant, and beautiful and hopeful and full of potential. There will be some parents for whom this is clear cut black and white. No question. Throw the baby out with the bathwater. I am not one of them. The world is many shades of grey and people make mistakes every day. In the end we as parents will move forward. Some will write letters asking that the board reinstate Francine Rheault. My amazing nine-year-old already has done one. Some parents are talking about pulling their kids from the tests next year. Wish that I had a child writing them this year so I could do the same. Many are angry at the sentence meted out to a principal who knew everyone’s names, was an amazing ambassador to the school and a genuinely lovely person. What do you think?

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.


  • Anonymous

    Karen Wilkinson is a major player (read Superintendent) with TVDSB and one of Francine’s bosses. I think that you need to keep in mind that there are MANY sides to this train wreck that you are not privy too and that the ‘message’ you were delievered was very carefully orchestrated. Opening tests days in advance and allowing teacher access is wrong (not grey) and allows the teachers to possibility teach the questions before. End of story. She is jeopardizibg not only her career, but others too in doing this. You may want to consider the fact that Francine Rheault has probably sent you down the garden path about your kids progress, needs and services received and you wouldn’t even know it. If she would lie and cheat for a ridiculous test, then what else would she do? Just my own personal thoughts though.

  • Jennifer Prince

    Cheating is wrong, yes. This test which I also agree is ridiculous, however, carries some weight in terms of outcomes that affect our children, and if Francine has done wrong, this was what I believe to be the motivator. Too much focus from our students and staff is directed at this yardstick instead of in each individual child’s growth. I personally don’t care if my kids are winning some imaginary intellectual race with the average third grader. I see them making progress to what I know to be the best of their abilities and that’s what matters. If you are involved in your child’s education, than you don’t need a comparison to your next door neighbor’s kid to keep you aprised of how they’re doing. Francine has already been kept away from a job she loves and has a genuine gift for for two months as well as having had her name and photo out there for all to see and judge. Losing her job for good seems to me extreme and unjust, to her and to a school that has much to gain from her. One bad decision should not define a person’s entire career. Aren’t disciplinary measures meant to teach? I don’t think we’d be at risk of this same mistake being repeated, but I fear we have much to lose by writing someone off based on a test many question the validity of in the first place. As far as Mme. Rheault being capable of deception to parents and staff in other areas,we can entertain all kinds of what if and conspiracy theories and waste all day doing so. I think enough time has been wasted.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, someone sounds like a disgruntled teacher….I’m sure you have never broken any rules at work, right?