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 Colleges 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
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 governments 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 governments 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 governments first announcement of its
plan to implement teacher testing and the Ministers 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 Ministers 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
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.