Volume 93, Issue 89

Friday, March 17, 2000


Politically correct prof leads the way

Althouse College enrollment up

Drug tackles nicotine addiction

Province to hammer out teacher testing by June

Second-hand smoke linked to breast cancer

To stay healthy, don't get sick

Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus

Province to hammer out teacher testing by June

By Lindsay Satterthwaite
Gazette Staff

The Ministry of Education is going full steam ahead with its plan to implement mandatory tests for teachers despite adamant opposition from educators across the province.

Rob Savage, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, said the Harris government made mandatory teacher testing part of their re-election campaign last year in order to improve the quality of teaching.

"Written tests will test both knowledge and the ability to teach," Savage explained, adding the Ministry viewed testing as a necessary step in improving and upgrading skills. "The goal is to have the first step, the policy of how the program unfolds, by June 2000."

Although no guidelines have been officially established, Savage said teachers would ideally be tested every three to five years.

Jim Douglas, executive officer for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, said the federation has nothing planned in reaction to the testing, but explained this move could simply be an attempt to appease the public.

"The government is using this as a public relations tool. It's not really an issue other than a PR issue," Douglas said. Ken Coran, head of the Thames Valley region of the OSSTF agreed with his colleague and said there was no value to the testing.

"It is using the tax payers' money for something that has no chance of improving anything," he said.

However, Savage said testing and evaluating was something currently happening in most professions and it was time teachers caught up. "Having knowledge doesn't mean you can teach it," he said.

Liz Sandals, president of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association, said the OPSBA did not believe written testing would show the effectiveness of the performance of current teachers.

"The only way to tell if teachers are effective is through classroom observation, which is already in place by principals and superintendents," Sandals said. However, the association did support a licensing exam to enter the teaching profession, she added.

Allen Pearson, dean of education at Western's Althouse College, said he disagreed with the proposal of written tests.

"Written testing is neither a reliable or valid method," he said. "An observational and developmental approach is much more appropriate."

The best thing is to have a sound performance evaluation by well prepared school principals, Pearson said. "It should be an ongoing process welcomed by teachers."

Still, Pearson said he would reserve his final judgment until the guidelines for the testing were disclosed.

"If it is sensible and well designed, it could be accepted," he said.

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