TORONTO -- Ontario says it intends to move its annual standardized school tests online and has started to search for a company to develop a platform for them.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), which creates and administers the assessments, started the procurement process today.

He says in a statement that the change will allow the agency to modernize its approach to the annual assessment and data collection.

The government says that for the 2020-21 school year, EQAO will be field-testing online assessments for Grade 9 math.

It also says the change will ensure testing accessibility for students with special education needs, increasing equity for different student populations.

The province did not say when the transition to fully online EQAO testing is expected to begin.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2020.