The province of Ontario continues to assault the reputation of teachers across the province. The denouncing of teaching abilities and effectiveness through the use of EQAO testing has not improved learning in the classroom.
Teacher contract after teacher contract, the Governments of Ontario throw the test scores out into the public and the main stream media eats it up. Examples of the types of headline possibilities:
“Useless teachers fail our students again!”
“Teachers make too much money – all they do is hurt students.”
“Teachers use students as pawns to support their slacker agenda.”
The people of Ontario, especially Ford supporters, sniff out and hold true to these sorts of headlines, whether there is any truth in them or not.
“Teachers force Parents to teach their own kids how to read and do arithmetic. Teachers need to do their jobs NOT parents.”
The type of Teacher-Hate flourishes every time their new collective agreements are negotiated.
So what is different this time and why bring up EQAO testing?
Not since Bill 160, has Ontario faced a situation even remotely similar to this one. The Ford Government, just like the Harris Government, is attempting to restructure Ontario’s Public Education system. They are trying assure that changes happen while diverting the public by feeding the Ontario people nuggets that feed teacher hate. Have you noticed that we allegedly live in an anti-hate-zero-tolerance society but it is open season to hate School Teachers?
A 2017 HuffPost article gives us some hints.
In this article, 2013/16 EQAO math test scores are revealed. Also, there is mention of a 3 year project costing $60 mil to improve math test scores and math abilities from G1-G8.
What the article did not mention was that ALL students write the Grade 3 and 6 math tests.
Even if a grade 3 student, due to disability or whatever, cannot even count, that student must write the math test. The test is not testing only students who can read and recognize numbers. The test is not only testing students who speak the language fluently. The test is not testing only students who can control their behaviours or sit in a room long enough to write the tests. The students facing these issues struggle to write the test, not only complete it. It is impossible to imagine a student who is barely functioning at a SK level to meet the provincial standard on a G3 or G6 EQAO test. They also failed to mention how the EQAO test scores differ depending on the school area demographics.
But then the statistics of the grade 9 tests are revealed. Academic test writers achieved over 80% math proficiency compared to under 50% math proficiency achieved by writers of the relatively easier applied math test. Their slant was that the 80% was achieved because they represent the “haves” of our society.
But what it really shows is two things:
1/ my making all students write the grade 3 and 6 math tests, skews the accuracy of math skill rating in Ontario Elementary Schools. There are many students learning math and doing well. There are other students struggling and may never achieve grade 9 math proficiency of any level.
2/ when the incapable students no longer write the math test, the score goes up.
Another thing the people of Ontario are being diverted from understanding is that the Ontario Curriculum itself is setting up many students to fail at achieving mathematics proficiency.
The Ontario Math Curriculum is based on incremental learning. Learning is to be built upon previous learning. Makes sense? Right?
But, the curriculum has to be covered each year/semester. A teacher cannot remain teaching multiplication if students are struggling. The teacher must move on to another component of the Government mandated curriculum. Not every student can learn a math skill in 2-5 days. The curriculum, however is so diverse that learning is not necessarily built upon last week’s learning, it is most often built upon last year’s learning. Now, try to recall your school days. It wasn’t that easy recalling last year’s math rules and equations, was it. Well, now, the government of Ontario pushes the math forward even if the student has insufficient knowledge and skills.
This is where the greatest learning gap is revealed and where students fall further and further behind.
The Ontario Government made it nearly impossible to fail or hold back a student. The new assessment recording strategy of using rubrics has no failing grade. Nearly every student is pushed forward. According to our Ontario Governments, this was to combat student self-esteem issues because of failing. But now we have a situation whereby less than 50% of students taking applied Math in high school meet the provincial standard. The usual end result for students taking applied mathematics or lower is blue collar employment. With a skilled trades crisis approaching, this method of teaching math and pushing students toward graduation, regardless of the amount learned, is about to injure our workforce. Many employers believe that a grade 12 graduation diploma means that you know your math and can read/write. Sadly that is no longer the case. When workers are not being hired or being fired because of their lack of skills and knowledge, I would have to assume that their self-esteems get pretty low.
This is not a teacher problem BUT it is marketed as a teacher problem. The province forces teachers to follow the provincial curriculum this way. As the HuffPost revealed, this strategy works with well abled students. If it didn’t, over 80% of students taking the advanced EQAO test would not be meeting provincial standards.
The fact is, even through elementary school, there are various groups of students with similar learning abilities. Creating a homogenized cookie cutter test is not helpful. What it does is misdirect the truth.
But instead of facing the above reality, Ontario’s Ford Government mandates that all new Teacher Candidates write a mathematics proficiency test. The HuffPost mentions that in 2017, the proficiency test would be for Elementary School Teachers. However, in 2020, all teachers, no matter the grades they are being certified to teach must meet the province’s Math Proficiency standard.
In an August Article, the following was quoted:
“The new math proficiency test will enhance teacher confidence and sense of efficacy in teaching mathematics, which will help ensure that students are better prepared for success in all aspects of their lives,” Ms. Naylor wrote in the memo.
But what Ms. Naylor neglected to inform the people of Ontario was that only Math/Science teachers teach math in High Schools and they already have math or math-related degrees. Their degrees prove their proficiency.
But further more, all other high school teachers need not become more confident in their math teaching efficacy.
There is no need for all TCs to write the math proficiency test. It is another governmental waist of money. It is a propaganda test directed at feeding teacher hate. The people of Ontario need to wake up and stop these misleading actions by the Ontario Government.
Another really bizarre thing about the above quote is that taking a test does not teach someone math. The notion is totally ridiculous.
I would assume that the people of Ontario would think that if there is a math test for all 6 year degree holding teacher candidates, who may never in their future teach math, would be offered mathematics teaching courses throughout their 2 year Bachelor of Education – but high school teachers are not taught anything to do with math unless they are teaching math. Primary teachers are not taught how to teach math to grades 7 and 8. It is entirely mad. New Teacher Candidates had no requirement to study math beyond grade 10 or 11 in order to be accepted into B.Ed. teacher training degrees. But as I type this post, TCs are writing the field test today. They received no further math education training and have been required by the province to take a test on it, even in the cases whereby they will never teach math in their careers.
EQAO is not helping our education system. Year after year it is proven to be more of a hindrance than anything.
If anything is placing undue stress upon students and now new teachers, it is the EQAO math testing system. Save money! Cancel the testing!
I wish that the people of Ontario would look at these real problems and turn from the Ford Government Deception and cuts that will surely make these test scores go down.