Volume 96, Issue 100
Tuesday, April 8, 2003

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Graduating teachers tested

Provincial test critiqued by many

By Samantha Wright
Gazette Staff

The tables have been turned: it is now time for teachers to be tested.

Nearly 9,000 student teachers from across the province wrote the new Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test last Saturday. For the first time in almost a century, graduating teachers will be required to take a compulsory four-hour written test in order to teach at any public school across the province.

"This is something the government promised a long time ago," said Dave Ross, a spokesperson for Ontario's Ministry of Education.

"This is a test where [teachers] demonstrate [their] knowledge in the art of teaching," Ross explained, adding the people of Ontario deserve the best teachers possible.

"[The test] is not designed to see if [teachers] are effective in a classroom," said Allen Pearson, Western's dean of education, adding the education faculty has not shown a lot of support for the tests.

"There has been immense confusion about what's going on," Pearson noted, adding many institutions were closed due to the storm, which made test sites inaccessible.

"No information has been received from the test developers to indicate if this [test] is a reliable measure of the knowledge and skills necessary to begin teaching. [It is uncertain] if this test actually purports what it is supposed to test," Pearson said.

A student teacher who requested anonymity said the government pushed the testing through too quickly and without political finesse.

"[Many people] don't understand what is going on," said the student teacher, adding, due to poor promotion, those affected by the tests are still confused as to the test's overall purpose. "People don't like change."

Gerard Kennedy, the Liberal education critic, said the organization and logistics of the test were a mess, discouraging potential student teachers.

"[The test] has been a poorly organized effort. We agree there should be a test, but it should be done right, with more open communication with colleges and universities. [The province] needs teachers and this isn't the way to go."

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2002 THE GAZETTE