New teachers no longer have to write the Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test, Education Minister Gerard Kennedy announced last November. What hasn't changed is that new teachers must still pass an assessment acceptable to the Minister before the College can grant them a Certificate of Qualification (CQ).
While the Minister develops an alternate assessment, the College has worked with Ministry staff to create a transitional solution that will allow new teachers to be licensed in the absence of the qualifying test.
In February, at the Minister's request, College Council approved a change to the teachers' qualification regulation. As a result, graduates from Ontario's faculties of education and those who were trained outside the province will now initially receive provisional certificates. Those in Ontario will receive the CQ (Provisional). Those applying from outside will be granted an Interim Certificate of Qualification (Provisional).
This interim change will enable new teachers to apply for jobs and will allow Ontario school boards to hire the teachers they need.
We told the Minister that it was our expectation that this was, at best, a temporary solution and that the College would be asked to issue the new provisional certificates only to 2005 applicants.
Council supported replacing the paper and pencil test with a better assessment mechanism that is relevant, convenient and evaluates professional skills and knowledge in a meaningful way. A number of Council members thought that the performance appraisal process was the most appropriate mechanism for assessing the capabilities of new Ontario teachers. Council formally offered to participate in the Minister's consultation about the purpose, form and timing of the new assessment.
Minister Kennedy says he wants to introduce an induction program to support new teachers (something the College recommended two years ago) and build an assessment into the first year of practice. He has declared his intention to provide details in June.
Like many in public education, we're keen to hear what the Minister announces. We need to be able to tell new teachers what the new assessment is, how long they'll have to complete it and what happens if they don't.
Council members are also concerned about what impact the transitional regulation and future requirements might have on applicants who decide to take a break before teaching in Ontario or who take a break early in their careers for maternity leave, travel, graduate studies, military service or to work in other jurisdictions.
In the meantime, the College has written to graduates from Ontario's faculties to advise them of the new provisional certificates. We've prepared statements explaining the provisional CQ for graduates who have decided to teach in other countries. And we've written to Ontario employers.
We want everyone to be clear on this point: New teachers who have been granted the provisional certificates are qualified to begin their teaching careers in Ontario and abroad. They have met Ontario's high standards for entry into the profession and they hold the same rights and responsibilities as Certificate of Qualification holders.
College members who hold a Certificate of Qualification (Provisional) or an Interim Certificate of Qualification (Provisional) have been deemed by the profession's regulatory body as ready to teach, and they should be entitled to the same job opportunities as others who have acquired CQs.
I am monitoring this interim measure very closely. I am counting on the Minister to consult with the sector and announce what the new assessment will be as soon as possible. The College will continue to share information with our new members as it becomes available.
In my last column, I mentioned faculty programs that offer flexible programming to attract second-career teachers. Laurentian University offers two tracks: one in English, one in French. The part-time program is offered only in French. I regret any confusion.