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Teaching students to fight provincial math test requirement

Last Updated Feb 12, 2020 at 8:42 pm EDT

A group of teaching students say they plan to take the provincial government to court over a plan requiring them to take a math proficiency test regardless of their area of study.

The Ford government introduced the measure last summer in the face of declining EQAO math scores. In the 2015-2016 school year, 63 per cent of Grade 3 students met provincial standards in math. Last year that number dropped to 58 per cent. The decline is even more troubling with Grade 6 students. In the 2015-2016 school year, 50 per cent of students met the provincial standard while that number dropped to 48 per cent last year.

Students in teachers’ college must now score 70 per cent or better on the test, which includes questions based on math curriculum from Grades 3 to 9, regardless if the teachers are being trained to teach high school French, English or history.

While thousands of teachers’ college students are preparing to take the test in the coming weeks, some are choosing to fight it.

“We are formally challenging the fairness of the math proficiency test as a legislation,” said Bella Lewkowicz, a student in her final year of teachers’ college at the University of Ottawa. “We are bringing on a judicial review. We have retained a lawyer for the purpose of doing this.”

Mary Reid, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, says the regulation was introduced with minimal consultation with colleges or students.

“What we are urging the government to do is to look at the literature. Look at the evidence from the scholarship about math proficiency testing for certification. What they’ll find is that the evidence shows there is no correlation between how well teacher does on a math test and teacher quality,” said Reed.

Lewkowicz and Reid say they will be bringing this issue to Queen’s Park on Friday. Lewkowicz adds a coalition of students she’s working with are ready to file a judicial review of the test this month, and plan on taking the Ford government to court.

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