09/14/2011 05:17 EDT | Updated 11/14/2011 05:12 EST

Tests show improvements in math, literacy skills

Ontario's Education Quality and Accountability Office has released its latest batch of testing results from the province's Grades 3, 6 and 9.

For a decade the EQAO has been giving examinations to the students in those grades and tracking their progress.

"The data being provided [Wednesday] allow parents, schools and school boards to celebrate their success in helping students master the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy, and, where necessary, to pinpoint areas for improvement," said Marguerite Jackson the CEO of EQAO.

Although nearly all of the the statistics point to a slow, measured improvement in reading, writing and math skills in all grades, some educators say the tests can sometimes impede learning.

Francine LeBlanc-Lebel, who is now the president of the Ontario Teachers' Federation, says that during her time in the classroom preparing for the tests meant giving up other teaching methods.

LeBlanc-Lebel said she didn't "have time do fun things anymore ...." Her classes were "very limited because I had this timeline."

Education activists concede that students in Ontario, in general, do very well compared with other provinces and other countries that also apply standardized testing. But, they argue, only testing reading, writing and math skills is too limited.

Annie Kidder of the lobby group People for Education says the current testing ignores other important subjects like history, geography and physical education. "I think that education is about more than reading, writing and math," she said.

Some parents also question the effectiveness of the testing. Jacqueline Spruce says other factors are also important.

"You could be in the worst district, with the worst statistics, but I think that if you've got a great teacher and committed parents, I think your kid will succeed," she said.

The tests will continue and educators say they'll need to make the best of it.

"Large scale assessments do have their place," said LeBlanc-Lebel. "They are good for data. For schools they are good."