The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) was established in 1996 based on a recommendation from Ontario’s Royal Commission on Learning in 1995. The all-party Commission consulted extensively with teachers, parents, students and taxpayers. It concluded tat province-wide assessments would contribute to greater quality and accountability in the publicly funded school system.
EQAO plays an important role in Ontario education by conducting province-wide tests at key points in every student’s primary, junior, and secondary education and by reporting the results. The tests measure student performance in reading, writing and mathematics based on the expectations set out in The Ontario Curriculum.
Results from EQAO testing are an important indicator of student learning and measure achievement in relation to a common provincial standard. The objective and reliable information gained through these assessments adds to the current knowledge about how Ontario students are doing and has become an important tool for improvement planning at the student, school, school board and provincial levels.
Board of Directors
Chair of the EQAO Board of Directors
Dr. Charles E. Pascal, of Toronto, has a strong background as a leader in education, training, policy development and organizational development. He has worked on behalf of disadvantaged and special-needs children and has published extensively in the fields of education and psychology.
In a long and distinguished career, Dr. Pascal has chaired the Higher Education Group and served as head of graduate studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. He was a member of the governing council of the University of Toronto and served on Dr. Bette Stephenson’s steering committee for the Secondary Education Review Project.
Dr. Pascal became the second president of Sir Sandford Fleming College in 1982 and was subsequently appointed chair of the Ontario Council of Regents, helping to develop a renewed mandate for the province’s college system. In 1991, he was appointed deputy minister of the Premier’s Council on Health, Well-Being and Social Justice and later in the year, deputy minister of the Ministry of Community and Social Services, where he contributed to the government’s plans for reform in welfare, child care and long-term care, and assisted in developing plans for restructuring Ontario’s social services.
Appointed deputy minister of the Ministry of Education and Training in February 1993, Dr. Pascal oversaw the integration of three former ministries and two major projects and provided leadership for the government’s major education reform initiatives, including the establishment of the Royal Commission on Learning. He played a major role in shaping initiatives such as the Education Quality and Accountability Office and the Ontario College of Teachers. In January 1996, he was appointed executive director of the Atkinson Charitable Foundation, which promotes social and economic justice.
Dr. Pascal has had extensive experience in China and South Africa, providing-capacity building expertise in educational leadership, policy making and organizational change. In 2003, he was named fellow of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation and Humanitarian of the Year by the Yorktown Child and Family Services agency. Dr. Pascal teaches public policy and leadership at the University of Toronto and is a senior fellow at Massey College. He maintains an active role as advisor and consultant to both domestic and international governments on education and health policy.
Vice-Chair of the EQAO Board of Directors
Jerry Ponikvar, of Burlington, has worked in education for over 40 years. He began his career in 1960 as an elementary school teacher and principal with the Sault Ste. Marie Catholic School Board and served in teacher education as a master at the Ontario Teacher Education College in Hamilton. Mr. Ponikvar was a superintendent of education with the Toronto Catholic District School Board for 12 years, serving in a variety of portfolios, including curriculum and special services. From 1990 to 1995, he served as director of education of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board. He is currently a consultant and part-time lecturer in the Faculty of Education at Brock University.
Mr. Ponikvar's professional leadership extends well beyond the school system. He has served as a senator of York University, as vice-chair of the Council of Directors and as a member of the National Heritage Language Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of Catholic Supervisory Officers of Ontario, the Board of Directors of the Industry-Education Council Hamilton-Wentworth and the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation Board.
His record of community involvement is equally extensive and includes his service as president of the Hamilton Health Sciences Volunteer Association Board, as a member on the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation Board, and as chair of the St. Joseph Society/Villa Slovenia Board, as well as involvement with many other community organizations.
Mr. Ponikvar was appointed to the EQAO board of directors in 1997 and served as its chair from 2002 to 2005. He has been appointed vice-chair for the 2005–2006 term.
EQAO Chief Executive Officer
Marguerite Jackson is the CEO of the Education Quality and Accountability Office. Prior to joining EQAO, Marguerite was the first Director of Education for the Toronto District School Board, where she provided leadership in the amalgamation of 7 school boards, with 600 schools, and 300,000 students.
Marguerite also served as Director of Education for the North York Board of Education. She came to North York from New Brunswick and Hamilton where she taught elementary and middle level students. In North York she assumed a number of assignments including teacher, consultant, principal, superintendent and associate director, before becoming Director of Education in 1996.
Throughout her career Marguerite has opened many doors for students and colleagues always with a focus on building school learning communities that challenge minds, engage personal responsibility and help students reach high levels of achievement. A founding member of Women in Leadership, she has provided seminars across the country and has led courses preparing staff for certification as principals, supervisory officers and specialists in Reading. She was responsible for the Ministry of Education’s removal of restrictive quotas for principals’ courses, opening them up to all qualified candidates.
A strong advocate for literacy, Marguerite has launched a number of programs to provide teachers with resources and strategies to teach reading. She initiated the first provincial courses for Ministry of Education reading certification, implemented a Parents as Partners program which centered around Family Reading, co-authored several program guides and sets of resources for teaching reading, founded the North York branch of the International Reading Association, introduced system-wide delivery of Reading Recovery programs, and while at the Toronto District School Board, implemented an early literacy initiative which provided support for local schools in their efforts to improve student achievement.
Marguerite sits on the board of directors of the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. She has also served on the boards of the Toronto Child Abuse Center, United Way, Junior Achievement, Collegium of Work & Learning, Learning Partnership, Educational Computing Network of Ontario, Registered Insurance Brokers of Ontario and the Canadian Club.
During her career Marguerite has been honoured by a number of awards. These include the OPSOA Distinguished Leadership Award, Bell Canada’s Award of Excellence for Leadership in Information Technology, the International Reading Association’s Jenny Mitchell Award, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education’s Distinguished Educator Award, the Helen Horn Leadership Award, the OSSTF Woman of the Year Award and the International Association of Business Communicators CEO Award of Excellence in Communication Leadership.
Marguerite holds a BA from McMaster University and a MEd from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto.
As CEO of the Education Quality and Accountability Office Marguerite’s efforts are focused on providing service and support to the education community. EQAO is an independent agency established by the Province of Ontario in 1996. The Agency is committed to the improvement of student learning through providing objective, reliable and relevant information about student achievement of expectations described in the Ontario curriculum.
Evelyn Bradley, of Thunder Bay, has had extensive involvement in the field of education since 1971, when she started as an elementary teacher with the Lakehead Board of Education. She later became a principal in the same board. Since then, she has been involved in leadership activities and professional development with the Lakehead board, with the Culture of Change (an Ontario Teachers’ Federation initiative) and as a sessional lecturer at Lakehead University in the Masters in Education program.
Ms. Bradley has a longstanding association with the Children’s Centre of Thunder Bay, an agency that provides mental health services and support services to troubled children, adolescents and their families. She has served on the board for the past six years and has been the president of the board for the last three years. She initiated the development of the Children’s Centre Foundation and is president of its board. This board will help fund education and prevention initiatives in the area of children’s mental health in Thunder Bay.
Mariette Carrier-Fraser, of Ottawa, enjoyed a 36-year career in the provincial education system, starting as an elementary teacher in northern Ontario and retiring, in 1997, as an Assistant Deputy Minister with the Ministry of Education.
Mrs. Carrier-Fraser is a member of many committees and boards across Ontario. She has been a member of the Board of Governors for Laurentian University since 1998 and for the new Northern Ontario School of Medicine since 2003. She was appointed to the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board in 2001 by the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. In 2002–2003, she served as a member of the expert panel advising Dr. Mordechai Rozanski, who headed the Education Equality Task Force responsible for reviewing the funding model for elementary and secondary schools in Ontario.
Mrs. Carrier-Fraser is also very active in the French-language community at various levels. She was elected president of L’Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario on June 10, 2006, and she chairs le Centre canadien de leadership en évaluation. In 2005, she served as a member of an advisory group to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care that made recommendations on how to improve health services to French-language communities in Ontario. She is also a member of La Fondation canadienne pour le dialogue des cultures and was recently named as a member of le Groupe de travail permanent sur l’éducation en langue française with the Ministry of Education.
In 1997, she received a Distinguished Educator Award from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto in recognition of her significant contributions that have stimulated and enriched education in Canada.
Dr. Brian L. Desbiens, of Omemee, retired with over 35 years’ experience in the field of education and has served as president of Sir Sandford Fleming College. Dr. Desbiens has served on the boards of several national and provincial organizations, including the National Advisory Board on Science and Technology, and has been chair of the Canadian College Presidents’ Network. He has also served as chair of the Ontario Committee of Presidents (COP) and of the COP executive and as chair of the Association of Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology of Ontario College Application Service.
Dr. Lorna Earl, of Toronto, is director of Aporia Consulting Ltd. and a recently retired associate professor in the Theory and Policy Studies Department and head of the International Centre for Educational Change at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. Her career has spanned research, policy and practice in school districts, provincial government and academe. She was the first director of assessment for EQAO.
Lorna is a teacher and a researcher with a background in psychology and education and a doctorate in epidemiology and biostatistics. She has worked for over 20 years in schools and school boards and, as a leader in the field of assessment and evaluation, has been involved in consultation, research and staff development with teachers' organizations, ministries of education, school boards and charitable foundations in Canada, England, Australia, Europe and the United States.
Throughout her career, she has concentrated her efforts on policy and program evaluation as a vehicle to enhance learning for both pupils and for organizations. She has done extensive work in the areas of literacy and the middle years but has concentrated her efforts on issues related to the evaluation of large-scale reform and assessment (large-scale and classroom).
Marilyn Knox, of Toronto, brings extensive experience in business, government, food and health. She was deputy minister for the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation and assistant deputy minister, food industry, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture. She also established Ontario's first Premier's Council on Health Strategy. She has three children in the public school system.
Ms. Knox has been involved in food and health since her early days as a nutritionist. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition from Mt. Allison University in New Brunswick as well as a graduate diploma in nutrition from the School of Hygiene at the University of Toronto and completed a dietetic internship at Vancouver General Hospital. She is a fellow of the Dietitians of Canada. She worked for the Grocery Products Manufacturers’ Association (now Food and Consumer Products Manufacturers Association) for eight years in a variety of roles, then went on to her work with the Ontario government.
She was the 1997-1998 chair of the Food and Consumer Products Manufacturers Association board. Ms. Knox is currently regional business head of Health Care Nutrition, North America, for Nestlé and president, Nutrition, for Nestlé Canada. In addition, Ms. Knox offers her expertise and advice on the board of the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation and works with health-related organizations and the ParticipACTION Revitalization Group.
Ms. Knox won the Food Industry Association of Canada’s Golden Pencil award in 2002, the Ontario Dietetic Association Award of Honour in 1991, the Toronto Sun Women on the Move award in 1987 and the Elizabeth Chant Robertson award in 1983 for bringing together consumer groups, industry and government.
Anita Kesavan Srinivasan, of Mississauga, is currently Director of Operations at the School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Toronto, and has been a program manager for leadership initiatives at the Maytree Foundation and a marketing manager at the Centre for Education and Training. She has been involved in the community with People for Education; Inclusive Communities for Families, Youth and Children; the Laidlaw Foundation; the Parent Voice in Education Project; the Ministry of Education; and the Applewood Heights Secondary School Council. Ms. Srinivasan has two children, aged 15 and 17, who are enrolled in a Mississauga public secondary school.
Dr. Bette M. Stephenson, of Richmond Hill, has held a number of posts in the Ontario cabinet, including that of Minister of Education, Colleges and Universities from 1978 to 1985. She is currently chair of the Learning Opportunities Task Force, chair of the Ontario Innovation Trust, co-chair of the Cancer Research Institute of Ontario and director emerita of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.
Her history of breaking new ground includes her roles as first woman member of the Ontario Medical Association (OMA) board of directors and as first woman chair of the board and as president of both the OMA and the Canadian Medical Association. She has also served on the board of directors of the World Medical Association.
Dr. Stephenson was the first Canadian recipient of the Citation for Outstanding Public Service presented by the Council for Exceptional Children. She was named Officer of the Order of Canada in 1992 and was appointed to the Order of Ontario in 1997. Dr. Stephenson served on the EQAO Advisory Board from February 1995 to August 1996. She was appointed to the EQAO board of directors in September 1996.