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.