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Mandatory math proficiency test for OCT certification

Illustration: Math formulas all over a page

On August 20, 2019, two regulations were filed: Ontario Regulation 271/19 Proficiency in Mathematics, under the Ontario College of Teachers Act (OCTA), and Ontario Regulation 272/19 Objects of the Office under the Education Quality and Accountability Office Act (EQAO), 1996. With the Proficiency in Mathematics regulation, new applicants to the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) will be required to successfully pass a mathematics proficiency test if their application for registration is completed on or after March 31, 2020.

OSSTF/FEESO has concerns about this mandatory, high-stakes math proficiency test. Not only do Ontario students currently rank highly on the world stage, there is little empirical evidence that standardized teacher tests have any correlation to teaching effectiveness or student success.

What does this new EQAO test entail?

  • In order to be granted an Ontario Certificate of Qualification, all beginning teachers in Ontario—regardless of division or subject specialization—who submit their certification applications to the College of Teachers (OCT) on or after March 31, 2020, will have to successfully pass the test;
  • The test will be developed by the EQAO and administered by Faculties of Education. EQAO will be responsible for communicating the results to OCT;
  • The test will consist of multiple-choice questions, 70 per cent of which will cover mathematical content from Grades 3–11 curricula, the other 30 per cent will cover math pedagogy. A minimum of 70 per cent on each component will be required in order to pass;
  • Internationally educated teachers will receive a conditional Certificate of Qualification and Registration from OCT, with up to two years to pass the test;
  • Teachers who become certified to teach in other Canadian jurisdictions are exempt from taking the test, due to the Ontario Labour Mobility Act;
  • Current teachers may opt to take the test voluntarily.

Implications for OSSTF/FEESO members

The testing, grading, and reporting of the test will delay certification of teachers in Ontario. School boards are already increasingly relying on unqualified/uncertified emergency hires to fill occasional teacher work. 2017–2018 also saw an increase in the number of Letters of Permission issued by school boards to hire unqualified and uncertified individuals to teach in Ontario. It would not be a stretch to expect these increases to trend higher when OCT certification is delayed for teacher candidates.

The disastrous Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test (2002–2004), was abandoned due to numerous glitches with the administration of the test and the 2015 online Grade 10 Literacy Test pilot was equally fraught with problems. The new math proficiency test announcement lacks consideration or mention of accommodations for teacher candidates with various abilities or language barriers. Undoubtedly, there will be issues no matter which format Faculties of Education are required to use to administer the test.

There are potential pitfalls surrounding the voluntary option to take the test if you are already an Ontario certified teacher. Some OSSTF/FEESO members may be tempted to take the test voluntarily as a venue to leadership. There would be little to prevent a principal or board to view those with successful completion of the EQAO math proficiency test as preferred or better suited for transfer, or promotion to positions of added responsibility. There is also the potential for administrators to coach teachers into taking the math proficiency test ‘voluntarily’ during an Annual Learning Plan (ALP) or Teacher Performance Appraisal (TPA) process.

OSSTF/FEESO strongly advises members not to engage in this fruitless exercise by volunteering to write the standardized math test administered through the EQAO.

6 Comments on Mandatory math proficiency test for OCT certification

  1. What about the new teachers coming in who are amazing with Language, Drama, Art. Subjects that are not heavily math based. Would this test not discriminate against them?

  2. I could also move to another Canadian jurisdictions and be exempt from taking the test
    (based on the Ontario Labour Mobility Act). Heck, I could even do this online with colleges based in any jurisdiction.

  3. Luc Lapensée // October 21, 2019 at 3:23 pm // Reply

    It would be nice for teachers presently teaching to actually see this test to see what is actually behind it. Is there a way for OSSTF to get a copy of or an “exemplar” of this new test ? Since these are multiple-chose questions, I wonder how complex they are going to make the answer structure…

  4. Richard Roffey // October 21, 2019 at 3:41 pm // Reply

    I know there are others who can be more articulate about the implications of this matter but I believe that this measure should be objected to in the most strenuous way. My first question is to ask why the government say that the institutions that train teachers are incapable of properly ensuring that they have competency in math when it is the government that approves the guidelines regulating these same institutions. My second concern is to see a government move to take total political control over educational curricula and gradually turn education into a propaganda machine and math is a good place to start. The rot within

  5. Debbie Poudrette // October 22, 2019 at 10:55 am // Reply

    I am highly skeptical of this test. I am retired after a successful career from Hospitality where I used very basic Math to calculate food cost using percentages, multiplication etc. I can tell you I haven’t used any Math skills beyond about a grade 7 level since high school and I likely would not pass a Gr 11 Math test but I had a successful 27 years of teaching. Why would an art, physed, dance, music, etc. teacher need to pass a gr 11 level test? This is a disguised system of discrimination and if they are going to test then they should pay to refresh and upgrade all teachers during class time as Professional Development and also the new teachers coming in. Our post secondary systems do not make any Math mandatory or teach it unless people take Math so even new teachers may not have used Gr 9-11 Math for 4 years. If anything they should test basic English “speaking”, reading, writing skills needed for all teachers to function since teaching is about communicating not about Math unless you are in Math and Sciences and some other subjects. This should be handled by the faculties of education both the upgrading, reviewing and testing otherwise why to we pay them. It is an insult to the teaching profession to treat us like kids by using the EQAO process as though we are all at the high school level after 4-6 years of post secondary education and longer for the trades with technical proficiencies. It is also damaging to our public credibility eroding the fact that we most teachers have a high level of education upon entry to teacher’s college. If this is such a concern then why don’t they make math mandatory to the end of gr 12 rather than 10 and also add more than 4 English credits into the curriculum. What are they doing to ensure new Canadians as teachers have the same level of requirements including any Math test? In my career several students had difficulty understanding teachers or others who had thick accents and couldn’t understand what they were teaching and I sympathize with both concerned but maybe, just maybe, an oral communication test would be more relevant and again the teacher’s colleges could take on this role. Why is the gov’t duplicating the existing teacher training that already exists and irresponsibly wasting tax payers dollars and at the same time eroding teacher’s reputations as being well educated in Ontario and the world? Passing a math test does not make a person a good or trained teacher and is just a disguised attack on teachers and is this a coincidence that this is just before contract negotiations? No matter what the case is this is extreme and damaging and nothing less.

  6. Bonnie Stocking // November 20, 2019 at 11:20 am // Reply

    I am a 2nd year Bachelor of education student in Westerns BEd program. Just one of my thoughts regarding the math proficiency exam is that its implementation has been rushed. Those of us who have registered and paid to be in the program thought we knew what the program consisted of, but now some of my peers are extremely disadvantaged for acquiring successful completion for the valid reasons mentioned in comments above. If this test must be implemented, it would be much more reasonable to inform new students applying for the program that this is required for successful completion, rather had throwing this unexpected curve ball at those already enrolled and in line for graduation.

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