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Government Penalizes Ontario Student Teachers with Rushed Teacher Qualifying Test

March 19 2002

Government Penalizes Ontario Student Teachers with Rushed Teacher Qualifying Test

March 19 (Toronto) The Ontario governments rush to count the Ontario Qualifying Test this year has created uncertainty and inequity for students at Ontario faculties of education and could create real problems for school boards desperate to hire qualified teachers for September.

More than 7,000 students at Ontario faculties of education have until this Friday, March 22 to submit their application to Educational Testing Service in New Jersey to take part in the Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test on April 27. If they cant write the test on that date, the College will not be able to certify them and they will likely not be able to teach in Ontario before January 2003.

"There is a real lack of equity in the way this requirement is being applied," said College of Teachers Chair Larry Capstick. "Students at Ontario faculties of education must take the test this April to be licensed to teach in Ontario this September. "

"But hundreds of Ontario residents who have crossed the border to take education degrees at U.S. border colleges and who are doing their practice teaching in Ontario classrooms will be able to get interim licences to teach in this province and take the test at any time in the next year. They can start teaching in September without any problem. This is clearly unfair."

College Registrar Joe Atkinson said that more than 500 practising teachers who hold interim teaching certificates originally issued by the Ministry of Education havent been informed that they must also write the test and only have until Friday to register.

"We only learned late last week that these teachers would have to write this test. The government has not provided them with registration forms, which they would have to courier to New Jersey tomorrow to beat what the registration information says is a very firm deadline."

The decision of the provincial government to count the results of the qualifying test this year is at best unwise and at worst bad public policy," said Chair of the Ontario Association of Deans of Education Michael Manley-Casimir. "Rushed test development, unresolved concerns about the tests validity and reliability, huge logistical difficulties in securing registrations of teacher candidates, compounded by the evident inequities as to which teacher candidates are required to write the test, undermine the utility and threaten the credibility of the test. The government should listen to the advice from all sectors and treat the test this year as a pilot."

"The Ministry of Education has provided no consistent information to teacher candidates on any aspect of this test, from content to preparation to registration," said Sheil Patel, External Co-ordinator for OISE/UT Student Teachers Union. "The test itself has not undergone proper psychometric evaluations to test for validity and reliability, contradicting everything the Ministry has been encouraging with education reforms. One has to wonder why the Ministry is moving forward when they are not prepared and with a test that is obviously not fully developed."

"The College and other education partners have supported the initiative for a qualifying test for new teachers in Ontario," said College Registrar Joe Atkinson. "But the test has to be fair and relevant. We should take this year to validate the test properly and count it next year. The test is not ready to be used as a basis for withholding certification and the rushed administration of it is unfair to everyone who is required to take it."

Proper validation requires sufficient field testing to ensure the qualifying test properly measures what it is intended to measure. Inadequate validation may lead to errors in interpreting the results and may create the basis for subsequent lawsuits. The acceptable test scores have not been determined and there is no decision yet about offering another opportunity to write the test this year.

The Ontario Association of Deans of Education, the Ontario College of Teachers and the test developers the Ontario Principals Council and the Educational Testing Service have all advised the government that the test needs to be carefully validated before it counts, but the government seems determined to push ahead. The College will contact the new Premier on the issue as soon as he or she is chosen.

"The government issued 1,300 Letters of Permission last year to allow people who are not qualified at all as teachers to teach in Ontario classrooms," said Atkinson. "We cant shoot ourselves in the foot and now bar many who have been trained to teach in Ontario classrooms."

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