The Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) is upset over a court ruling that upheld the Ford government’s mandate requiring that candidate teachers pass a Math Proficiency Test (MPT).
OTF president Yves Durocher put out a statement on Thursday in which he expressed disappointment over the Court of Appeal’s Tuesday ruling.
Durocher called the test “arbitrary,” and said that it will create an unnecessary barrier for candidate teachers trying to enter the profession.
“The MPT works counter to the Government’s own recent steps to shorten the time needed for entry into the profession. The MPT will only further delay certification and will make it harder for teacher candidates to begin their careers as soon as possible,” he said.
The decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a lower court’s decision that found the test was unconstitutional.
The Ontario Teacher Candidates’ Council argued the test was “unfair to racialized candidates,” claiming that more “racialized” candidates would fail the test than would white candidates.
In addition, the decision by the Court of Appeal comes just days after the Canadian Teachers’ Federation sounded alarm bells over what they described in a report as “the teacher retention and recruitment crisis.”
But the Ontario Court of Appeal’s Tuesday ruling said that more recent data shows that there are no discrepancies in outcomes between ethnic groups when everyone was given two shots at the MPT.
Why the test was mandated
Education minister Stephen Lecce of the Progressive Conservatives said the mandate is in response to the fact that the average student’s math proficiency has been trending in the wrong way.
For example, the Education Quality and Accountability Office reported that in 2021-22 only 52% of grade nine students met the provincial standard for math skills, compared to 75% just three years prior.
The mandate was originally issued in 2021, but has been held up by court challenges ever since.
The MPT consists of multiple choice questions that cover what students between grades 3 and 11 are tested on. The exam can be taken multiple times and requires candidate teachers score a 70%.
The test would apply to every teacher, no matter what grade or subject they teach.
The Court decision noted that the Ford government has argued “that it is not discriminatory to require professionals to demonstrate competence in a subject needed to properly perform their jobs, nor is it a disadvantage.”
The Ontario Teachers’ Federation has argued that math proficiency is irrelevant for most teachers and has no impact on student outcomes.
The union represents over 160,000 teachers in all of the province’s publicly-funded schools, including Catholic and francophone.