Teachers take aim at standardized testing

The Elementary School Teachers’ Federation of Ontario wants standardized testing eliminated from schools.

Last week, the ETFO issued a press release in response to the test scores released by the provincial Education Quality and Accountability Office. The document stated that the money going towards standardized testing could be used for more funding in the classroom.

According to their website, they need money for computers, musical instruments, specialist teachers, design and technology and family studies programs.

David Clegg is the president of the ETFO. “Now is the time to end standardized testing in Ontario,” he said. “It is a wasteful and unnecessary initiative.”

The ETFO says it prefers the simple meeting of a teacher and a parent over the administration of a test.

Amanda Henry, a teacher at Dr. S. J. Phillips Public School in Oshawa, agrees with the ETFO’s stance on standardized testing.

“It ends up only being beneficial to those students who are of the linguistic or mathematical intelligences and who can best communicate their answers, compared to the more visual or kinesthetic learners,” Henry said.

Henry administered her first standardized test last year.

“I found that I was mainly teaching towards the test so that I could better ensure that the students do well,” Henry said. “I didn’t necessarily get to do all the fun things that I would have liked because time was limited.”

Professor Kenneth Leithwood of the Ontario Institute for Studies and Education at the University of Toronto, sees multiple purposes served by the test.

“ETFO is properly concerned with tests that are useful for improving teaching and learning. Of course the government needs some way of assuring the public that schools are working well and making progress,” Leithwood said. “The debate often centres on whether or not the same tests can serve both.”

Marguerite Jackson, chief executive officer at the province’s EQAO, credits standardized testing as a critical tool to help school boards make necessary changes and decisions.

“Along with classroom results and other data, EQAO results provide important information about student achievement and help school communities identify areas for improvement,” Jackson said.

The ETFO does recognize the purpose of a standardized test, but its position is that the test are not necessary and the money could be better allocated to the items listed on their website.

“While the ranking of students and schools meets the political needs of governments and is very useful to the real estate industry, it is not that meaningful for students and teachers,” Clegg said.