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chair.jpg (11036 bytes) The College Remains Committed to Consulting on Teacher Testing
Despite tight timelines, Council is consulting as widely as possible with a broad range of educators.

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By Donna Marie Kennedy

The Ontario College of Teachers is committed to developing its policies and programs based on sound research and thorough and open consultation with its members. We took this approach in the development of the standards of practice, the ethical standards and the professional learning framework and we will continue to follow this practice. With this commitment in mind, I want to take this opportunity to bring you up to date on the issue of teacher testing and the College’s response.

The Ontario government first announced it intended to introduce a program of teacher testing, in co-operation with the Ontario College of Teachers, in April 1999. In the ensuing months, the government raised the issue a number of times, promising to consult with the College in the process and citing June 2000 as its target date for introducing the program.

Although we received no formal information from the government about their plans during this period, the College began a process of research to prepare for what promised to be a tremendous amount of work.

On November 10, the College received a letter from Education Minister Janet Ecker officially informing the College of the government’s intention to initiate a program of teacher testing and indicating for the first time the role it expected the College to play in the process. The Minister asked the College to prepare advice on how to implement a cost-effective teacher testing program and described the government’s vision of the program – the regular assessment of teachers’ knowledge, skills and methodologies linked to re-certification, remediation for those deemed to have failed their assessment and possible de-certification if remediation failed.

The letter also expressed the hope the College would consult with other education organizations in Ontario and submit its report to the Minister by December 31, 1999.

It was immediately apparent to us that it was not feasible for the College to meet this deadline. It had been seven months between the government’s first announcement of its plan to implement teacher testing and the Minister’s letter to the College. We were being given seven weeks in which to design and conduct a consultation with our members and stakeholder groups, focus our research on the parameters indicated by the Minister in her letter, assimilate a large body of information, formulate our advice and write our report.

The College Council met within days of receiving the Minister’s letter and struck an ad hoc committee, which started to work immediately.

In a letter to the Minister sent November 26, one of the principal concerns I conveyed was that Council members – both elected teacher members and appointed public members – felt the December 31 deadline could not be met. I included a timeline that set the week of April 10, 2000 as a realistic target date for the College to provide advice to the Minister.

The College held a series of structured consultation sessions between February 14 and March 3 with 42 education stakeholder groups representing parent groups, teachers’ federations, faculties of education, school administrators and many others. The ad hoc committee of Council members is now working very hard to prioritize the issues and analyze the comments from those who submitted briefs and participated in the process. A final report is scheduled for presentation at a special Council meeting on April 10. The report will be delivered to the Minister a few days later.

The consultation document was posted on the College web site in mid-February for members to submit their comments. The input of all members is welcomed and valued as we develop our advice to the Minister on the teacher testing program envisioned by the government. I can assure you that the advice will be sound, well researched, and in the best interests of the public and the teaching profession.