Ontario math proficiency test gets failing grade from teaching candidates
SUDBURY -- Real problems are continuing to pop up around a teacher math proficiency test that was instituted recently by the Ontario government to boost students' low math scores.
That is according to the Ontario Teacher Candidate Council (OTCC) which says the delivery of the test is flawed and citing there aren't enough slots among some of its many problems.
"We need to have enough slots for at least 6,000 and up to 6,700 teachers who need to write this test before the Aug. 31 deadline," said Sara Penner, a Nipissing University student and OTCC president. "We were given about four days notice that these test slots would become available."
Penner said they were told a week ago Thursday that the slots would become available on Monday. There weren't enough available that Monday and she said accommodations to take the test are being delayed.
"We have been hearing about a pending teacher shortage for this school year and at this point in time, it does appear that thousands of teachers --who are fully capable and many are enrolled in the classroom already -- will not be allowed to teach in the fall and the new school year," she said.
Penner said many are at risk of losing their teaching certification.
The OTCC said it has raised the point and concerns with the provincial government, the Ministry of Education, and the Education Quality Accountability Office several times and has yet to get a response.
Penner said teaching candidates were also told they'd get the opportunity to complete the test three times, but with a looming deadline and not enough slots, it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
The last update in regards to the test they had received was in November 2020, she said.
"We haven't had much communication in terms of the governing bodies and the stakeholders over this test," Penner said. "I've put two years into my education and I have several colleagues who have done the same and having been teaching for a year in the interim, so it's really hard to see these dedicated teachers who want to be in the classroom worry that they're not going to be in that position in the fall."
Denise Bartolucci is a Nipissing University graduate who will be taking the test in the coming days.
"While I'm a fan of math, I'm not a fan of how this whole thing has been implemented. It's been primarily a nightmare and it's kept me up a lot at night," Bartolucci said.
The Ministry of Education is continuing to stand by the test and its rollout.
In a statement to CTV News, Minister Stephen Lecce's spokesperson writes in part:
"Math is a foundational skill, which is why we instituted a new $200 million plan to lift math scores for students and improve teacher training and standards — including an expectation that new educators meet a grade nine math standard."
Sudbury MPP Jamie West said it's the wrong move and that smaller class sizes would better help boost low math scores.
"There's a lot of speculation that this is a bit of a 'dog-whistle' for the government -- who's always trying to undervalue education workers and wants to send a message to people that the people who are teaching your children aren't the most qualified," West said.
He said the delivery of the test has issues and ignores the specialization of the teacher.
Ontario has been facing a teacher shortage. Last December, a temporary certification was issued in hopes of addressing that gap.