VOLUME 7 NUMBER 3 Summer 2005 A ROCKY ROAD TO SUCCESS Collective Bargaining in Peel A LOOK AT TEACHER EXCHANGES WHAT ARE WE TESTING FOR? Examining Standardized Testing CONTRIBUTORS Peel Elementary Teachers’ Local PASSAGES VOLUME 7 NUMBER 3 Summer 2005 TIM CUNNINGHAM is Second Vice President of the Peel Elementary Teachers’ Local. ETFO Peel Local 6435 Edwards Blvd. #5/6 DOUG HITCHCOCK is the Peel Elementary Mississauga, Ontario Teachers’ Local Occupational Health and Canada L5T 2P7 Safety teacher advisor. Tel: 905 564 7233 Fax: 905 564 7236 Toll Free: 877 772 3836 www.etfopeel.com PATRICIA McADIE is a research officer with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario. The opinions expressed in Peel Passages do not necessarily reflect official policy of ETFO, PETL or the Editorial Board. SHARRON RAYMOND is Chair of the Collective Bargaining Committee and president-elect for the 2005/2006 and EDITOR 2006/2007 school years. Kurt Uriarte EDITING TEAM CATHY SMITH is president of the Peel Sabina Freemantle Elementary Teachers’ Local. Matthew Curran Gail Novack PRODUCTION Thistle Printing Ltd. MARGARET STEWART is past president of the Prince Edward Island Teachers’ DESIGN & LAYOUT Federation. Blind Pig Design CONTRIBUTING ARTIST Rick Taylor KURT URIARTE is First Vice President of the Peel Elementary Teachers’ Local and editor of the award-winning Peel Passages. Advertising Inquiries should be directed to Kurt Uriarte at 905 564 7233 MARINA WILLATS is a Grade Seven teacher email@example.com at Fletcher’s Creek Public School. ETFO Provincial Tel:416 962 3836 Toll Free: 888 838 3836 www.etfo.on.ca LOCAL EXECUTIVE EDUCATIONAL ISSUES 2 From the Editor 13 The Perils of Testing Kurt Uriarte Margaret Stewart 3 The Long and Winding Road Cathy Smith 16 What Are We Testing For? Examining Standardized Testing 7 If You Don’t Take a Stand for Your Students, Who Will? 18 Testing the Limits Kurt Uriarte Patricia McAdie 8 The Year in Retrospect Tim Cunningham EXECUTIVE COMMITTEES AROUND PEEL 10 Collective Bargaining 22 A Look at Teacher Exchanges 12 Occupational Health & Safety 24 Book Reviews QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? visit us online at www.etfopeel.com Send to firstname.lastname@example.org FROM THE EDITOR It has been a very busy year in Peel and around the province. We have made some positive gains in planning time and working conditions. Now teachers need to ensure that this new contractual language is followed. In this issue of Peel Passages, Sharron Raymond reviews the bargaining process here in Peel and looks at where we are going, while Cathy Smith looks back on her career as she prepares to enter the adventure of retirement. Tim Cunningham reflects on his first year as a release officer in Peel and Doug Hitchcock reviews ministry procedures for violence in schools. With the beginning of summer comes the marking of EQAO. Despite the revamping and watering down of the testing process this year by the Liberals, EQAO remains a tool of the government to demonstrate to the public “improvements in education” come election time. However, EQAO continues to be destructive to public education and teachers should not assist in marking it! Last year Peel Passages covered the issue of so called “standardized testing.” Considering the continued relevance and importance of the issue, we have included the article once more. I know many of us are looking forward to the summer break in order to get caught up on reading we have put off throughout the year. In case you are looking for any suggestions, we have included two book reviews – one professional and one leisure – both of which are sure to keep you turning pages. Have a relaxing and re-energizing summer. You deserve it! In Solidarity, Kurt Uriarte 2 PEEL PASSAGES LOCAL EXECUTIVE The Long and Winding Road BY CATHY SMITH My initial career aspirations did not include being a teacher. My family included a long line of teachers: my great aunt had been a teacher; my mother and older sister were teachers; many of my friends went from Grade 13 right into teachers’ college. In fact my great, great grand- declining enrollments. I got 1973. This was the beginning of mother’s teaching certificate married in June 1972 and a very tumultuous time for from the Normal School of moved to London believing that education. That fall, teachers in Upper Canada in 1855/6 was I would begin my teaching several school boards submitted signed by Egerton Ryerson. career as an occasional teacher. resignations en masse, effective I was going to do something I was granted an interview late December 31, when their different. in August for what I thought bargaining reached an In September 1969, I was a supply teaching position, impasse. The government attended the University of and to my great surprise, at the responded with Bill 274 that Western Ontario where I elected end of the interview I was changed the effective date of to take mainly science and math offered a job to teach Grade 5 at resignations to August 31. Next courses. Being a true product of Clara Brenton Public School. came Bill 275 that banned the the “sixties,” I was discounting My starting salary was $6300 right to strike and mandated the notion that these courses and I got a $300 raise at Christ- compulsory arbitration, intro- were more suited for males. mas. That was the beginning of duced on December 10. On After first year I went to Bark many different assignments December 18, 1973, teachers Lake Leadership Centre for a over the next several years. At across the province walked out week in June with a group of that time, there was no provi- of their classrooms and 30,000 Grade 8 students from my sion for planning time, with the gathered in Toronto for a rally at sister’s school. This experience exception of the Grade 7 and 8 Maple Leaf Gardens and a dramatically changed my career teachers who had planning time demonstration at Queen’s Park. plans, as I realized how much I when their class had French and The offending bills were enjoyed working with young Home Economics or Industrial withdrawn on December 21, people. Arts. Primary and junior teach- 1973. I attended my first Annual In 1971 I attended ers received no planning time. Meeting in August 1974. Lakeshore Teachers’ College I have always believed in In 1975 the government and received my teaching the importance of being a part passed teacher bargaining certificate. I applied for a job of the professional organization. legislation: the School Boards with the London Board of I began my involvement with and Teachers Collective Negoti- Education, but jobs were scarce the Federation serving as the ations Act of 1975, commonly as many Boards were facing “Key Teacher” for my school in called Bill 100. That October, SUMMER 2005 3 LOCAL EXECUTIVE the federal government passed strike in Peel is the Transfer and mostly women. the Anti-Inflation Act. The Surplus language that is in In 1989, thousands of legislation covered all public Peel’s current collective agree- teachers rallied at Copps sector workplaces and private ment. Coliseum in Hamilton, site of sector companies with 500 or During this time I continued the Liberal convention, to more employees. Wage my involvement in the federa- protest pension negotiations. increases were capped at 10 tion by serving on the Joint Teachers wanted a partnership; percent in the first year, eight Economic Policy Committee that partnership was achieved percent in the second, and six now known as the Collective in the 1990s under the NDP percent in the third. However, in Bargaining Committee. In June government. 1978, as declining enrollment 1981, my first daughter was In 1990, I decided to move continued to hit the elementary born. At that time I qualified for back to Mississauga and was schools of the province, Boards eight weeks of paid maternity hired to teach Junior Kindergar- responded by laying off teach- leave. I returned to a full time ten at Settler’s Green Public ers. The federations developed position in September 1981. By School. Once in Peel I became model language containing the time my second daughter involved with PWTA serving as objective criteria for measuring was born in December 1984, “Key Teacher” and as the “E.A. seniority to be used to identify improvements to maternity Rep” for my school. When the those to be laid off or trans- leave provisions allowed me to Government of the day in its ferred, a procedure for declaring stay home with my new baby for wisdom cancelled all funding layoffs and fair recall proce- 12 weeks of paid maternity for JK and the Peel Board dures leave. decided to cancel the program, I The federations also coun- Changes to legislation found myself looking for a new tered the move to lay teachers continued. In 1982, Ontario position. Over 200 teachers off with creative alternatives passed wage controls with Bill were laid off from the Board and such as deferred salary leave 179, the Inflation Restraint Act. my seniority number came plans, part-time positions with It curtailed the bargaining uncomfortably close. I was the guarantee of return to full- rights of public sector workers, offered a position at Settler’s time, early retirement incentive including teachers, by extend- Green to teach the Primary plans, relaxation of pension ing their collective agreements, Interval Program, which I requirements for part-year removing the right to strike for accepted, and remained in that employment, smaller class sizes, the duration of the controls and assignment for seven years. The job sharing plans, leave oppor- capping salary increases at five years at Settler’s Green pro- tunities and retraining for other percent. vided me with the opportunity positions. In 1987, the public elemen- to work with exceptional and In 1979, the elementary tary teachers of Metropolitan supportive colleagues. During teachers in Peel Region were Toronto went on strike for 18 this time I served on the the first public elementary days to get preparation time executive of both PWTA and the educators to exercise their right provisions in their collective Educators’ Association. to strike with a full withdrawal agreement. This agreement In 1993, the same NDP of their services. This included paved the way for others to government under Premier Bob my mother and sister. My include guaranteed preparation Rae imposed the social contract. mother had the difficult task of time in their collective agree- It limited public sector salary being a principal of a school at ments. increases and froze teachers on the time and so was required, In 1988, Ontario passed the the grid. Included in the social because of her role, to cross the Pay Equity Act. The federations contract were unpaid days off. picket line. She did however negotiated the collapse of the Changes to education continued support the strike by donating three pre-degree grid categories when the Royal Commission the wages she earned to the into one, improving the salaries Report, For the Love of Learning, strike fund. The result of the of thousands of members, CONTINUED ON PAGE 28 4 PEEL PASSAGES SUMMER 2005 5 LOCAL EXECUTIVE 6 PEEL PASSAGES LOCAL EXECUTIVE If You Don’t Take a Stand for Your Students, Who Will? BY KURT URIARTE As a Grade 3 teacher, I know full well the amount of work that goes into EQAO and it has bothered me more and more each year. What bothers me isn’t just the two to three weeks wrenched from our schedule during the busiest time of the year in order to subject our students to stress inducing, timed tests. Nor is it just the fact that the the province, and presently decision every year to mark the whole Grade 3 team has been ETFO has an advisory to test, ensuring that the EQAO planning the entire year’s members not to participate in cycle continues without a glitch. curriculum with its multitude of the marking process. Most markers don’t look at the expectations, topics and units, If each teacher in Ontario larger issues and just see the to be completed by April, in followed the advisory and money at the end of it. But isn’t order to make room for testing. refused to mark the tests, then a strong education system Nor is it just the fact that even maybe, just maybe, the govern- where students aren’t stressed though the testing costs millions ment would be forced to listen. out and ranked by ill-conceived, a year, it ranks schools and The Ministry might hear our timed tests more important than students like commodities, and concerns that the tests harm a few extra bucks in the sum- goes against the best of current both the system and students. mer? teaching pedagogy. We can send this message only Often, markers feel that they No, what really outrages me with our actions – or in this case are just one person and that if is how we as teachers allow it to our inaction. Do not mark the they don’t mark it this year then happen! Why do we permit the test! someone else will. But what government to waste would happen if we precious time and and all the other resources, and subject our students WHAT YOU CAN DO… people who think, “someone else to so much anxiety If you are already signed up to mark the test, will,” refused to over tests that we it’s simple, just don’t show up. mark the test this know do not paint Actively encourage others not to sign up, talk summer? What if an accurate picture to as many colleagues as you can. teachers across of our students’ Ontario took a ability? Why do we stand on principle not stop the entire process in its As a professional I will and refused to voluntarily tracks? It’s simple! If we don’t follow my EQAO and report participate? We would send a mark the tests, the cycle is card paper filing duties as best I strong message! broken. can even though my energy The government and public In 2002, at our Provincial would be much better spent need to know that EQAO is a AGM, I put forward a resolution focused on my classroom. I will harmful, expensive and stress- that stated “That ETFO encour- not however, participate in the ful, waste of time. Teachers need age members not to participate parts of the process I’m not to take a stand on principle this in any EQAO marking exer- required to. summer and say no to EQAO. cises.” It was passed unani- Many teachers are continu- Do not mark the test! ÿ mously by delegates from across ing to make the conscious SUMMER 2005 7 LOCAL EXECUTIVE The Year in Retrospect BY TIM CUNNINGHAM In reflecting on the school year, I realize it has been quite busy. Having come to the position of Second Vice President in late September, there was much to learn. I also found that the year questions related to it, can be are many misconceptions about reinforced my old concepts quite complex and confusing. Long-Term Disability, which can about ETFO, particularly that Why is it that a leave around unfortunately result in disap- ETFO is about teachers and such a natural event in one’s life pointment and frustration for public education. can be so complex? Different members. The Local will One of the most important laws and legislation govern continue to try to make this aspects of the Federation is its maternity and parental leaves. process run as smoothly as support of teachers and there- Federal legislation, provincial possible for members. fore letting them concentrate on legislation and our own collec- This year we have seen an doing the best job possible in tive agreement, when inter- unprecedented number of members interested in being a We have seen an unprecedented number of part of the Peel delegation to the Provincial Annual Meeting in members interested in being a part of the August. This in itself is impor- tant and exciting. It demon- delegation to the Provincial Annual Meeting. strates a renewed interest in our professional organization, both the classroom. This support is twined with individual circum- at a local level as well as at the offered in different ways. stances of due date, time of year provincial level. Whether it is creating profes- and when the teacher is going Communication continues to sional development opportuni- to start their leave, can make for be an important issue between ties, supporting teachers some challenging questions and the Local office and the mem- through TPA difficulties or issues, which the Local can help bership. The office is continually assisting teachers with difficul- you sort out. developing more effective ties with their principal or fellow Member support also comes means of communication colleagues, ETFO is there to in the form of assistance with between the membership and support them. the Long-Term Disability (LTD) the Local office. Vast improve- One of the areas that has process. Part of my job this year ments have been made to the generated a large influx of calls was to help educate members website (www.etfopeel.com) over the year is maternity leave. on what exactly LTD is, and how resulting in improved communi- It became apparent to me that it worked. As questions came in, cation between the Local and maternity leaves, and the it became clear to me that there the membership. Important 8 PEEL PASSAGES LOCAL EXECUTIVE documents have been put on- line, and a secure-site for stewards was created so that they could keep members abreast of breaking news, as well as updates during negotia- tions. Communication continues to come in the form of publica- tions such as the Local Link, Steward Bulletin, Health Matters and Peel Passages. This was the first year that every school in Peel was visited by a released officer. These visits were a great opportunity for us to meet with members, hear their concerns and speak directly to them about negotiation issues. This has been a pivotal year for negotiations and our Collec- tive Agreement. Many issues needed to be addressed and were. Inroads have finally been made on issues of maternity benefits, working conditions and planning time. All of these gains could not have been made without the resolve of the membership. Without your support for the bargaining team and each other, these gains would not have been possible. It became quite evident to the Board that Peel elementary teachers would not back down and were demanding respect, and that these issues needed to be not only recognized, but also addressed. As we move forward into next year, it is imperative that this momentum continues. ETFO must strive to improve the support it offers its mem- bers, and members need to stay informed and involved. With this dedication we will build a professional organization of which we can be proud. ÿ SUMMER 2005 9 COLLECTIVE BARGAINING A Rocky Road to BY Success SHARRON RAYMOND Every contract negotiations have a flavour all their own. This round can only be described as ‘Rocky Road.’ For Peel elementary teachers, negotia- tions were marked by a series of unprecedented milestones. There was the RESPECT button unity. Whether in the hallways majority of local members, campaign, job actions, a historic of schools or the boardrooms of having to enact strike sanctions provincial framework and a 52- CBO, teachers delivered a loud, was a new experience. Peel hour marathon negotiation clear message. Even the elementary teachers had not session. Through it all the Minister of Education, Gerard exercised their collective resolve negotiation team and member- Kennedy, was presented with a through the implementation of ship remained resolute in their RESPECT button and reminded job actions since 1979. But as determination to achieve a fair that teachers required and one Steward put it so elo- collective agreement in order to deserved additional preparation quently, “If not now, when?” improve the working lives of time to ensure a quality educa- The dedication of school teachers. tion for all Ontario students. Stewards was remarkable. Ten months ago, the negoti- Elementary teachers would no Distributing bulletins, answer- ation process was set in motion. longer wait quietly to be given ing questions, rallying the From the first meeting, it was respect; they demanded respect support of their colleagues, as evident that achieving a fair now. well as attending and holding settlement would hinge on a If facts and logic guaranteed meetings, marked the valuable well informed, united member- success, the Peel elementary contribution made by a few ship. Visits by the released teachers’ trek would have been teachers to guarantee improve- officers to close to 200 sites took a direct route to success. But ments for all teachers. information and facts directly to negotiation isn’t about reason – Just as hard as it was for the membership. The RESPECT it isn’t about doing what is right teachers to withdraw their many button campaign became the – it is about withholding, taking voluntary services, it was visual demonstration of our and sharing power. For the equally difficult to lift job 10 PEEL PASSAGES sanctions without having With the June 1 deadline Ratification by the Local achieved a tentative agreement. looming and the clock ticking, membership and the Board As unprecedented as this was, the Board and the Local met on marked the beginning of a new the imposition of a provincial May 25 to attempt to hammer era in Peel for elementary framework added a second out a fair settlement. As was teachers. No one would pretend extraordinary element to reported to Stewards at the that all of our issues have been already complicated negotia- time, negotiations were pains- completely resolved, but we are tions. Many boards of education takingly slow. Late on Thursday, clearly heading down the right took the position that the May 26, what appeared to be an road. Successful implementa- framework was the deal, or at least the upper limit, of any settlement. At the Fifty-two hours after negotiations had begun, same time, teacher locals saw the framework as a the Local and the Board representatives shook starting point for discus- hands and signed a tentative agreement. sions. Both parties brought their own interpretations of the insurmountable obstacle tion of the new collective framework to the table. Sud- blocked the road to agreement. agreement will require the denly, negotiations were no Members were quickly united efforts of a vigilant longer a two-party exercise; informed that a return to job membership. As each new there were now five distinct and actions was probably unavoid- clause takes effect, we must separate agendas operating: the able. It was at this time that the ensure that it is done correctly. Local’s, the Board’s, ETFO negotiation team drew heavily We must guard against breaches Provincial’s, the Ontario Public on the will and strength of the of new provisions. Improve- School Boards Association’s and 5,600 elementary teachers. It ments to working conditions the Ministry of Education’s. was the knowledge that we were hard-won and came as a While the framework embodied jointly held one vision and one result of the solidarity demon- many of the working condition goal that energized the negotia- strated by the membership. issues Peel teachers had given tion team. Fifty-two hours after Successful implementation will their negotiation team a 95 negotiations had begun on May also require the same demon- percent strike mandate to 25, the Local and the Board stration of resolve. Our work is achieve, there still remained representatives shook hands not complete. We must continue many local issues that were not and signed a tentative agree- to work together for a better going to go away. ment. future. ÿ SUMMER 2005 11 OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH & SAFETY BY Workplace Violence DOUG HITCHCOCK This article contains summary of key legislation concerning violent incidents in schools. The ratification of our new contract has brought with it new Health and Safety obligations. Contract clause 20.05 states on school premises. ing possessing a firearm. “Violence shall be defined as 2. Using a weapon to cause or to any incident in which a teacher SUSPENSIONS threaten bodily harm to another is intimidated, threatened or Ontario legislation called the person. assaulted.” Violence must never Safe Schools Act states that A student must* be suspended 3. Committing physical assault be an expected part of your from school for: on another person that causes employment. bodily harm requiring treatment The Peel District School 1. Uttering a threat to inflict by a medical practitioner. Board, like any employer, has an serious bodily harm on another obligation to “take every person. 4. Committing sexual assault. precaution reasonable” to 2. Possessing alcohol or illegal 5. Trafficking in weapons or in protect the safety of its workers. drugs. illegal drugs. 3. Being under the influence of 6. Committing robbery. POLICE INVOLVEMENT alcohol. 7. Giving alcohol to a minor. The Peel District School Board 4. Swearing at a teacher or 8. Engaging in another activity works in conjunction with the other person in a position of that, under a policy of the board, Peel Regional Police and the authority. is one for which expulsion is OPP using the Police and School 5. Committing an act of vandal- mandatory. Response Protocol which states that the following incidents ism that causes extensive There are two types of expul- must be reported to the police: damage at the pupil’s school or sions: limited and full. Princi- possession of weapons; to property located on the pals can hand out only a limited threats of serious physical premises of the pupil’s school. expulsion. School Boards can injury; issue a limited or a full expul- physical assaults causing EXPULSIONS sion. A limited expulsion means bodily harm; It is mandatory* that a pupil be that a student can be expelled sexual assault; expelled if the pupil commits from your school for between 21 robbery and extortion; any of the following infractions days and one year. In order to hate motivated violence; while he or she is at school or is return to school, a student must vandalism causing exten- engaged in a school-related meet the requirements for sive damage to school activity: return set out by the Board. A property or property located 1. Possessing a weapon, includ- CONTINUED ON PAGE 28 ETFO’s DEFINITION OF VIOLENCE A violent incident encompasses any aggressive act that causes physical or emotional harm to a member and includes violence or any threatening statement that gives the member reasonable cause to believe that there is a risk of physical or emotional harm. Intent is not a factor in determining risk to members. It does not matter that an assailant may be incapable of making a reasoned judgement prior to acting. Visit www.etfopeel.com to download a form for reporting violence to the Local. 12 PEEL PASSAGES EDUCATIONAL ISSUES BY The Perils of Testing MARGARET STEWART Recently I was asked to provide some information on standardized tests, with a view to explaining why so many educators and teacher organizations are so opposed to this particular mode of evaluating student learning and school success. While I am no expert on this those answered correctly 50 characteristics of the subject, I have done a good deal percent of the time). students being tested, of reading in the area and have Criterion-referenced tests, results may be misleading attended a couple of assessment on the other hand, are supposed or misinterpreted. and evaluation conferences. to measure how well an individ- Many types of student While proponents claim these ual has learned a specific body ability which are clearly tests increase accountability (of of knowledge or set of skills, or among the goals of educa- teachers, schools, systems), I how well a student has learned tion are not captured by have found virtually no philo- what is taught in a specific standardized tests. Exam- sophical support for them, a course or grade. The passing or ples include sense of multitude of articles in opposi- acceptable level of performance citizenship, ethics, aesthetic tion to them and a good deal of is often set by a panel of “ex- appreciation, respect for material designed and marketed perts,” which might include others, self-esteem, social to help teachers and students teachers, members of the competence and intellectual prepare for them. There are business community, etc. T ests curiosity. The reality of several issues to consider. are described as “high-stakes” multiple intelligences is when the results are used to largely discounted. THE NATURE OF THE TEST make decisions about place- Tests which are to be used A standardized test is one that is ment, retention, graduation, etc. for a large number of given and scored in the same It is these high-stakes tests that students must be very way, no matter where or when it have been most criticized by general, which leads to is given, so that scores of all educators and teachers groups frequent mismatches students can be compared, one across the country, and indeed between test questions and against the other. Often the around the world. curriculum – or what is format is multiple choice, so In Standardized Testing: taught and what is tested. that they can be machine Undermining Equity in (SAIP2 tests are adminis- scored. Of these, norm- Education,1 Bernie Froese- tered to a random sample of referenced tests are used to Germain argues that while over 35,000 13- and 16-year- evaluate the performance of one standardized tests may be olds across Canada. PISA3 student in relation to the useful in the sorting and involved 265,000 students in performance of others, or to ranking of students, they do not 32 countries). An interna- compare individuals to a effectively measure student tional math and science “norm.” They are designed so learning or development. The assessment in 1996 that results fit a “bell curve,” following are among the most (TIMSS4) reported test- with most in the middle, and a common arguments (parenthe- curriculum matches ranging few at the high and at the low ses mine): from 53 percent in one end (questions are chosen on While tests can be standard- province to 98 percent in the basis of how they contribute ized, students cannot. another. to spreading out the scores – Without considering the Standardized tests tend to SUMMER 2005 13 EDUCATIONAL ISSUES measure what is easy to each school and district in the routinely tested may be measure (lower-order province. relegated to second-class recall), and penalize higher- In the United States, results status. (Larry Booi, order thinking – analyzing, are regularly used to inform President of the Alberta synthesizing, forming decision making about funding Teachers’ Association, in an hypotheses and problem levels, with higher performing interview with Today’s solving (for example, there schools being rewarded with Parent, expressed this very might be three logical increased funding, and lower concern. “Fine arts, lan- answers to a multiple choice performing schools losing guages, practical arts, all question, but only one will funding; and to select teachers these other areas – physical be marked right because for rewards such as enhanced education, health – none of there is no opportunity to salaries for high or improved them factor into the schools’ explain one’s answer). test results. rankings, and so we’ve seen the deterioration of those HOW THE RESULTS ARE NEGATIVE IMPACT ON programs because every- USED TEACHING AND LEARNING one’s obsessed about what While many are concerned with Most opponents of standardized their school gets ranked the nature of the tests, the testing maintain that while on.”5) greater concern is often with results say little about the Methodologies which are how the results are used. quality of teaching or learning, meant to promote critical Standardized tests results across there are a number of ways in thinking, problem solving, the United States, and increas- which their use may impact analysis, hypothesizing and ingly across Canada, are being negatively on both. For exam- synthesizing may give way used to place, retain and track ple: to an emphasis on recall of students; and to compare and In an attempt to raise test facts and rote learning. Test preparation and administration take up Standardized tests tend to measure what is valuable time which could easy and penalize higher-order thinking. be used for instruction. (The Grade 6 Language Arts rank students, teachers, schools scores, teachers may teach Assessment in and school boards. to the test, and curriculum Newfoundland is adminis- In Nova Scotia and New may become test driven. (At tered over nine days: three Brunswick, provincial exams in a recent meeting, I spoke to days for the first component a number of Grade 11 and 12 teachers from other prov- and 60–90 minute blocks courses account for 30 percent inces who admitted doing each day for the next six). of the students’ final mark. The just that – even though they In extreme cases reported in Fraser Institute has used test had previously thought they the U.S., because jobs, results in Alberta and Ontario to never would. Alberta reputations, schools, etc., produce and publish “report publishes old achievement are on the line, students cards” which compare results tests on the government have been encouraged to and then rank schools through- website so that teachers and cheat, and/or results are out the province – currently an students may use them to doctored to make a school impossibility in Prince Edward get ready for the next look better than it is. Island which does not adminis- round.) ter provincial exams. “Report The curriculum may be RESOURCE ALLOCATION Card 98,” released publicly by narrowed, in order to make With parents and teachers in the New Brunswick Department what is taught match more most jurisdictions feeling that of Education Evaluation Branch, closely what is tested, and education is underfunded, many gave provincial exam results for subjects which are not are concerned that money spent 14 PEEL PASSAGES EDUCATIONAL ISSUES on external exams and stan- territories, has participated in Equity in Education. Canadian dardized tests is necessarily this program, and in PISA. Teachers’ Federation, 1999. money which is not spent on These tests have a multiple- 2. Student Achievement Indicators staffing, resource materials, choice component, but are not Program a project of the Council of teacher in-service and profes- solely in this format. They are Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC). sional development. And there criterion-referenced tests, are are large sums of money administered to samples of 3. Program for International Student involved. For example, in June, students only and are not high- Assessment a project of the Organisation for Economic Co- 2001, the Ontario Ministry of stakes. For these reasons, they operation and Development (OECD). Education estimated that a new, are perceived as being more Co-ordinated in Canada by Human expanded testing program palatable than others. Resources Development Canada would cost $16,000,000 annu- There are some indications (HRDC), Council of Ministers of ally, in addition to $33,000,000 that there is a backlash begin- Education Canada (CMEC), Statistics Canada and provincial ministries and already spent on testing in ning against standardized tests departments of education. Grades 3, 6, 9 and 10. as a means of assessing teach- The last provincial exams ing and learning, and a move 4. Third International Mathematics and Science Study conducted under the were written in Prince Edward toward what is generally called auspices of the International Island in 1969. We have not “authentic” or “performance- Association for the Evaluation of administered any standardized based” assessment. In Prince Educational Achievement (IEA). test to all students at any grade Edward Island we are already 5. Waytiuk, Judy and Brearton, Steve. level since we discontinued use there! By continuing to work “Making the Grade: Your child’s of the Canadian Test of Basic with teachers to hone their success in school may depend on Skills in 1991. A cursory look at assessment/evaluation skills and where you live.” Today’s Parent, the documentation around the working to ensure that assess- September 2002, p. 60. elimination of both of these ment is closely linked to learn- 6. For those who would like more programs will show that they ing, as it should be, we can information on this topic, there is an were dropped for many of the continue to lead the class!6 ÿ abundance of material available. Look at several issues of almost any recently reasons that educators currently published educational journal and you oppose standardized tests. This article is excerpted from are likely to find a number of articles. While the Canadian Teach- Passing the T est: The False Prom- Check out the Fair Test site on the web ises of Standardized Testing, Marita (www.fairtest.org) as well as the ers’ Federation and its member Moll, editor. Canadian Centre for Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives organizations have expressed Policy Alternatives, 2004. (www.policyalternatives.ca) and the some concerns about SAIP and Canadian Teachers’ Federation the interpretation of the results, NOTES (www.ctf-fce.ca); read almost anything Prince Edward Island, along 1. Froese-Germain, Bernie. by Alfie Kohn (much of it online). with most provinces and Standardized Testing: Undermining Passing the Test: The False Promises of Standardized Testing EDITED BY MARITA MOLL 552 African-American high school students with low skills were expelled from school in Birmingham, Alabama, just before a big state test. Test scores went up and the superintendent got a bonus. “Maybe in the twenty-first century, satire about the schools is no longer even possible,” says U.S. testing critic Susan Ohanian. In recent years, and without much public scrutiny, large-scale testing projects have become firmly established in Canada and around the world. These tests are now self-perpetuating industries. They divert large sums of public monies from resource-starved schools. Teachers and students are pressured to increase the February 2004 school’s test scores. Low ranking schools are publicly stigmatized. Does any of ISBN 0-88627-334-X this improve learning? $24.95 In this collection, researchers, teachers, parents and students speak out about the problems of standardized testing and the growing opposition to it. SUMMER 2005 15 EDUCATIONAL ISSUES Ontario Elementary Teachers Vote to What Are We Testing For? Boycott Marking At the ETFO (Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario) 2001 Annual Meeting held in August 2001, What’s So Standard About Standardized Testing? delegates passed the following resolution: “Where high-stakes testing has become common practice, there is THAT ETFO ENCOURAGE MEMBERS NOT TO evidence of low-achieving students being dismissed on test days, PARTICIPATE IN ANY EQAO MARKING EXERCISE. students with low test scores being placed in special education programs to avoid having their scores reflected in school reports, Delegates informed the annual meeting that the results students being refused admission on the basis of low scores and of these assessments have been misused to undermine students with low test scores even being encouraged to drop out of the teaching profession and the students on Ontario. As school.” such, if teachers continue to participate in marking of Froese-Germain, B., Standardized testing + High Stakes Decisions = Educational Inequity, Interchange, these assessments they may be perceived as condoning 32(2), 111-30, U.S., 2001 and supporting the inappropriate use of assessment TEXAS results. Every year, the Texas board of education establishes a “cut grade” – The emerging trend within the media of ranking schools the number of questions a student must answer correctly to pass a by assessment results has been unfair to students and is test. Between 1998 and 2002, the cut grade for tests has decreased potentially destructive to the education system. by as many as 11 points, including in the math tests for Grades 4, 8 Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario. Advisory to Members, August 2001 http://www.etfo.ca/documents/EQAO_Marking_Update.PDF and 10. The board says the fluctuations simply reflect the varying level of difficulty of each test and are necessary to maintain equivalent passing standards. Others worry politics are muddying the results in Texas. “Once you start digging, its amazing how these scores can be manipulated for political purposes.” League Tables Cause Student Burn Out Schmidt, Sarah, “Texas: Miracle or Mirage?” National Post, November 19, 2002, p. A12 Some experts believe that exam mania could scar the CANADA emotional health of a generation of children because of In 1998, CMEC decided that SAIP results would be reported in its relentless appetite for high grades at almost any cost. relationship to “public expectations of student performance.” Claiming A paper for the Institute of Public Policy Research to be too resource-strapped to use any other method, CMEC developed published in the summer argued that high-achieving a shortcut process of chatting up focus groups to generate numbers students could become success “junkies” and lose sight that are then represented as public opinion. CMEC now reports all of themselves, only feeling accepted if they got straight SAIP results by comparing them to expectations set in this haphazard As, while those who didn’t make the exam grade could way. The media duly reported that, in the most recent tests, Canadian feel like failures. The paper, Learning to Trust and Trusting to Learn by Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer, cited the apparent rise in eating disorders, burn-out, male disaffection and behaviour problems, even in the more academic schools, What’s the Cost of all This Testing? as signs that all is not well. There is little information available on the financial costs of It argued that schools which focus too heavily on getting standardized testing. Especially for the international tests and surveys, children through exams and pushing themselves up local the costs are spread over the various partners involved in the exercise league tables by hook or by crook risk damaging and are not easily accessible. The cost in teacher and student time childrens’ – and teachers’ – emotional health and and resources, often called “in kind contributions” is frequently not skewing broader educational objectives in the process. calculated. Nevertheless, the information below, collected from news The latest official study acknowledges that one in 10 releases and newspaper articles, shows that the costs are children aged five to 15 will experience a clinically considerable. Unfortunately, the benefits, for students and the system, defined mental health problem. This can lead to children are not at all clear. under-achieving to avoid the risk of failure and, she says, schools have to provide an environment in which NATIONAL ASSESSMENTS children feel valued beyond delivering “success” to Federal support for SAIP: $1.5 million direct contribution parents, the school or the government. from HRDC (Human Resources Development Canada) “When there is so much pressure and focus on doing Provincial (shared) support for SAIP: $1.5 million “in the well, children can feel they are only being valued for form of human and material resources” being successful, so they can become depressed if they are not. They are working for and trying to meet National Clearing House For Assessment Data: $100 someone else’s expectations. They end up with very little million in 2003–04 for the establishment of the Canadian pleasure from their own work and they can end up losing Council on Learning the plot – burnt out or opting out.” PROVINCIAL ASSESSMENTS (ONTARIO) Excerpted from: Wendy Berliner. “Success, the New Drug” UK Guardian, Thursday November 22, 2001. Grade 3 and 6 (reading, writing and math): $6 million/yr. 16 PEEL PASSAGES EDUCATIONAL ISSUES EXAMINING STANDARDIZED TESTING Is There Any Merit in Merit Pay? Imported from the US, where it continues to fail as a useful system for teacher remuneration, performance-related pay (PRP) students had failed to live up to the public’s expectations, but no is a tool that flows logically from the current mania for reporter questioned how these expectations were set. The public measurement activities. “It’s ironic that the system of connecting might have been interested to learn that its views were generated teacher pay to test results…led to the founding of the NUT 100 by 85 people invited by their respective ministers of education to years ago,” says Tony Brockman, President of the National guess how well students should perform on tests that these judges Union of Teachers, the largest teacher union in the UK. weren’t even allowed to see. Research and practice have continuously found PRP systems to Robertson, Heather-Jane,. “Bogus Points” in Moll, Marita (ed), Passing the Test: The False Promises of Standardized Testing, Ottawa, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2004 be counterproductive and even destructive. “One of the real impacts of a system that bases pay increases on student ONTARIO performance is that teachers of disadvantaged students are In the 1996 Third International Mathematics and Science exam, rarely eligible for such increases,” he noted. the Grade 8 test results, presented in graph form in a mailout to As a result of intensive lobbying and a court challenge, the NUT every household, showed math and science results for the top 7 of achieved important improvements to the original proposal 40 countries followed by the scores for Canada and Ontario including additional funding, a set of appeal mechanisms and a indicating the province ranked “the lowest of the low in lowly review of the entire process in 2002. In the meantime, NUT is Canada.” In reality, Canada ranked above average in both subjects developing an alternative that would connect teacher pay when compared with all 40 countries. Ontario’s math score was increases to the identification of professional development needs one percentage point below the international average. Its science and the accreditation of enhanced qualifications. –Marita Moll score was two percentage points over the international mean. This article is excerpted from Passing the Test; The False Promises of Standardized Testing. Froese-Germain, B., (2001), Standardized Testing + High Stakes Decisions = Educational Marita Moll, editor. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2004. See www.maritamoll.ca for Inequity, Interchange, 32(2), 111–30 more articles and order information. In the 2002 Grade 10 literacy test, the provincial improvement of 8% pass rate (over the trial run administered in 2001) was a travesty given that students knew the test would count and tried hard and many schools had been drilling students on sample questions. The passing grade was probably lower as well, but the A Ten Step Alternative to High Stakes Testing EQAO method of establishing the pass rate caused so much 1. Eliminate the Grade 10 literacy test as a graduation confusion that no one was sure. requirement; replace it with ongoing evaluations and est Lipman, Peter, “The Ontario Grade 10 Literacy T and the Neo-conservative Agenda” in Moll, Marita (ed), Passing the Test: The False Promises of Standardized Testing, Ottawa, Canadian Centre appropriate remedial assistance. for Policy Alternatives, 2004 2. Use random standardized testing in certain subjects, grades and schools, followed by an analysis of the test results and intervention to improve areas of weakness before testing again. 3. Provide time and resources to ensure that all students have success in school. Grade 9 (math assessment):$6 million/yr. 4. Provide on-the-job training for teachers in curriculum Grade 10 (literacy test): $15 million/yr. delivery and use of performance-based tests that measure not just the ability to memorize facts but also the capacity for Cost of running Education Quality Assessment original thinking, perseverance and social responsibility. Office (EQAO) which also administers TIMSS 5. Support students at risk with full service school teams, and SAIP: approx. $20 million/yr. including counselling and support from educational assistants Estimates of total cost vary from $50 million and professional student services personnel. to $59 million each year 6. Implement a consistent template for the content and Provincial plans (currently on hold) call for more marking of Grade 12 examinations. testing to be phased in to the point where there 7. Implement a curriculum renewal cycle, beginning with a are exams in two core subjects per year from systematic review and revision of each grade and course that Grade 3 to Grade 11 has been offered in the new Ontario curriculum. In June 2001, the Ontario Ministry of Education 8. Recognize the value of subject expertise by pilot testing estimated that a new expanded testing program Grades 7 to 12 schools with qualified subject specialists. would cost $16 million annually, in addition to 9. Develop a self-evaluation process for schools and school the $33 million already spent testing Grades 3, boards every five to seven years. 6, 9 and 10 10. Measure and publicize accountability using a number of Ontario directors have asked for a 3-year indicators. The Education Quality Indicators Project (EQUIP) moratorium on the expansion of the current collects data on nine indicators including school climate, testing regime student achievement, education financing, community characteristics and stakeholder satisfaction. Source: Standardized Testing in Canada, www.maritamoll.ca www.osstf.on.ca/www/issues/studentesting/tenstepalternative.html SUMMER 2005 17 EDUCATIONAL ISSUES BY Testing the Limits PATRICIA McADIE Standardized testing at the elementary level in Ontario began in 1997. This is not the first time that we have had province-wide standardized tests, but it is the first time that these tests have been used for such young students. Grade 3 and 6 students are now the nature of public education ing that cannot read or write tested every year in reading, in Ontario and elsewhere, but adequately. writing, and mathematics. not for the better. With all these supposed Provincial standardized tests are Some find standardized problems, standardized testing, also given in Grade 9 mathe- tests as an indicator of the along with its partner, standard- matics and Grade 10 literacy. success of our education system ized curriculum, are portrayed Students must pass the Grade appealing. Some parents feel as the solution. Bring in the 10 literacy test in order to confident that the results of the tests, bring in the rigid stan- graduate from secondary school. tests give an accurate picture of dardized curriculum and then Plans are under way to bring in the achievement of their child we will have an education more standardized tests in and of the education system as a system that meets the goal of Grades 4 to 11 in other subject whole. Regardless of where in ensuring our society is ready for areas. Currently, Prince Edward the province you may live, each the new global economy. Island is the only province that child gets the same test and Policymakers like standard- does not administer provincial presumably is scored in the ized testing. Robert Linn, a exams at some level. Alberta, same way. It also appears to specialist in education measure- Manitoba, New Brunswick, take the politics out of educa- ment, outlines this appeal: Newfoundland, and Ontario all tion by providing a so-called They are relatively inexpen- have provincial tests for Grade 3 objective measure of achieve- sive, compared with reforms students. New Brunswick does ment. The disagreements such as reducing class size not report the results for individ- between teachers and the or improving professional ual students. British Columbia government can be ignored – at development for teachers. starts testing at Grade 4 and least when it comes to how well The testing can be exter- Saskatchewan begins at Grade their child is doing. nally mandated without 5. Saskatchewan’s testing is We have been told repeat- relying on substantive only a sample of students and is edly by politicians, the media, changes in the classroom. only reported at the provincial and those advocating for Testing changes can be level. privatization of education that rapidly implemented – Is this what we want for our there is a crisis in education. “ within the term of office of students? For our teachers? For This crisis, they say, is the result elected officials.” public education? Do the results of an approach to education that Results are visible, espe- provide any useful information favoured child-centred policies cially when reported to the or help improve our education that did not teach the basics. media. “Poor results in the system? The short answer is no. The claim is that Canada, and beginning are desirable for This focus on standardized particularly Ontario, has not policymakers who want to testing and a rigid curriculum measured up on international show they have had an that goes with it has changed tests and students are graduat- effect. Based on past 18 PEEL PASSAGES EDUCATIONAL ISSUES experience, policymakers these students were using the with the old curriculum. We can reasonably expect old curriculum, so the results have gone full circle. It took increases in scores in the were not good enough. The next four years with the new curricu- first few years of a pro- year, the Ministry of Education lum to achieve the same level as gram…with or without real news release states that 42 with the old curriculum. Do improvement in the broader percent score at level 3; it states these news releases sound like achievement constructs that that only 34 percent scored at political messages, rather than tests and achievements are this level in 1997. What the reporting the results? Depend- intended to measure. The release fails to mention, how- ing on the political agenda, the resulting overly rosy picture ever, is the percentage of reports vary. The Ministry of that is painted by short-term students scoring at level 4 in Education news releases can be gains observed in most new both years – 16 percent in 1997 found on their website at testing programs gives the and four percent in 1998. The www.edu.gov.on.ca. The EQAO impression of improvement total of level 3 and 4, which is reports can be found at right on schedule for the the usual measure, is then 50 www.eqao.com. next election” (Robert L. percent for 1997 but only 46 The latest example of Linn, “Assessments and percent for 1998. This is a reporting the data to fit a Accountability,” Educational significant drop in scores when political agenda is for the Researcher, March 2000, students go from the old Ontario Grade 10 literacy test. Volume 29, Number 2, curriculum to the new “im- Students first wrote the test in 4–16). proved” curriculum. Maybe it 2000. The results from the first takes more time to get used to year did not count and the The news releases from the the new material. students knew that. Beginning Ontario Ministry of Education In 1999, the news release with the 2001–02 year, students are interesting to follow from says there was a 13 percent must pass the test in order to year to year. Before the new increase in mathematics scores, graduate from high school. The curriculum was in place, the test but only states that the reading results from the second year results were described as results were similar to the were reported as 75 percent reflecting the poor common previous year. In fact, there was passing, compared with 68 curriculum of the previous a one percent decline in reading percent in the first year. EQAO government. Then the results on scores. The news release for the has always reported results the tests got better, but there was The tests represent a distinct shift in focus from learning room for improve- to performing , from thinking to performing or responding. ment. Each year they are described as 2000 results gives no numbers using Method 1, which includes getting better as a result of the for any of the results. In 2001, all students in the cohort, reforms in curriculum, testing, the news release reports figures whether or not they actually the new standardized report for Grade 3 mathematics (up took the test until now. For the card, but they are never quite from 43 percent in 1998 to 61 first time, they have switched to good enough. More testing is percent, both numbers the same Method 2, which includes only brought in and more reforms are as reported by EQAO), but no those students who actually instituted. other Grade 3 results are wrote the test. Under Method 1, The figures reported in the reported. For Grade 3 reading, 69 percent passed the test this news releases are most interest- the actual results show a small year, compared with 61 percent ing. In 1997, 50 percent of increase. In fact, by 2001, Grade last year. It appears that 75 students in Grade 3 scored at 3 students are now performing percent sounds more acceptable level 3 or above in reading. But at the same level as they were than 69 percent. It remains to be SUMMER 2005 19 EDUCATIONAL ISSUES seen whether Method 2 will be does not include other Ministry questions are becoming more used to report test results from costs or district school board abundant. They do not allow for now on. cost associated with prepara- creativity, for differences, for There are a growing number tion, administration and follow- explanations or for more than of books and countless articles up of the tests. It does not one right answer. and monographs pointing out include the time spent in class “If one mousetrap catches various problems with standard- preparing for the tests and one mouse everyday,” she reads ized testing. See, for example, administering the tests. It does slowly, “and two mousetraps Alfie Kohn, The Case Against not include the time spent at the catch four mice, and three Standardized Testing, 2000; W. school or the school board on mouse traps catch nine mice, James Popham, The Truth About various aspects of the tests. This and four traps get sixteen mice, then how many traps Accountability is not the same as testing. Accountability will be should be a measure of the purpose we hold for school. needed to catch twenty-five Testing, 2001; Bernie Froese- is a huge investment for some- mice?” How many traps then, Germain, Standardized Testing: thing with a very questionable Jiri?” asks the teacher. Undermining Equity in return. Jiri smiles. His glasses are Education, 1999; FairTest And this does not include filthy. His whiskers shine. et website www.fairtest.org. Y we the costs of the growing test “One,” he says. “Of course, you continue adding more tests, preparation companies. For $10, would need almost a month.” (p. publishing the results in you can buy Help Your Child 75–77, Of Mice and Nutcrack- newspapers, checking the Prepare for Ontario Grade 3 ers: A Peeler Christmas, by rankings, comparing one Language Tests or Help Your Richard Scrimger, Tundra school, board, province or Child Prepare for Ontario Grade Books, Toronto, 2001). How country with another. We have 6 Mathematics Tests or Helping would this response be scored? more than enough evidence that Your Child Prepare for Ontario Standardized tests do not such tests are inappropriate and Grade 3 Mathematics Tests. You improve student learning, but even damaging. So why do we can enrol your child at Sylvan they do help to separate the continue with them? for a few hundred dollars. You winners from the losers. Because the people that are can hire a private tutor for Bringing these tests into the making the decisions don’t hundreds of dollars per year. It elementary level ensures that really care about the research. is estimated that the tutoring young children are initiated into They are concerned with and test preparation industry is the competitive world of mar- promoting a different agenda, worth close to $4 billion (“The kets and meritocracy. Lisa one that values markets, profits Education Industry Reports. Graham Keegan, Arizona and social stratification. The Pre-K–12,” February 7, 2002, Superintendent of Education results are presented to support eduventures.com). and an advocate of standardized the arguments. The tests represent a testing, refers to “gatekeeper The annual budget for the distinct shift in focus from skills” (PBS Online Focus, Education Quality and learning to performing, from School Testing, Feb. 15, 2001, Accountability Office (EQAO) in thinking to performing or www.pbs.org). In other words, Ontario is about $50 million. responding. Essay questions not everyone should be allowed They administer the provincial must be answered with five to pass through the gate, to Grade 3, 6 and 9 tests, the paragraphs. Short answer pass, to succeed. You can’t have Grade 10 literacy tests, the questions must be no less than winners if you don’t have losers. national SAIP and the interna- three sentences and no more “Such tests do not measure tional TIMSS tests. This cost than five. Multiple choice creativity, judgment, persis- 20 PEEL PASSAGES EDUCATIONAL ISSUES tence, higher-order thinking, measures – observe you child’s Accountability should be a stamina, motivation, imagina- behaviour, visit the school, talk measure of the purpose we hold tion, determination, sense of with the teachers. for school. If we are interested craft or civic mindedness.” (G. None of this means we in democratic citizenship, then Bracy, A Lesson Plan for the should not or cannot hold high look at voting rates, particularly Schools With Little Learning standards for students. “Having among young people, volunteer- Behind It, Center for Education high standards is not the same ing and participation in the Research, Analysis and as having common standards for community, crime rates. If we Innovation, Jan. 28, 2001). But all, especially when they are are concerned with social that is not the point of the tests. tied to a lock step of age or efficiency, of educating our The point seems to be to stratify grade level.” (Robert L. Linn, future work force, then look at students. “Assessments and students’ ability to take their Is there a legitimate reason Accountability,” Educational place in the workforce (not for trying to construct better Researcher, March 2000, unemployment levels, which standardized tests? Some, such Volume 29, Number 2, 4–16). measure market factors, not the as James Popham, (The Truth Teachers do expect the best from ability of the workforce). If we About Testing: An Educator’s their students. What Ontario’s are interested in social mobility, Call to Action, 2001) argue that schools need are the resources in perpetuating the meritocratic, you can develop fair, appropri- to be able to ensure a high class-based society, then keep ate standardized tests that quality education system for all the tests. would address accountability. students – lower class sizes, Public education is more Others, such as Alfie Kohn (The particularly in the early grades, than just public ownership of Case Against Standardized more resources, more supports the schools. It should include Testing: Raising the Scores, for students and teachers, a full public control for the common Ruining the Schools, 2000), range of programs. good, for a common purpose. argue that no form of standard- And none of this means we Public education should be the ized testing is appropriate; to should not or cannot be responsibility of all of us, not address accountability, we accountable. Accountability is left for a handful of politicians. ÿ should look at more subjective not the same as testing. Huh? TESTS BREACH U.N. CONVENTION Article 29 of the Human Rights Convention says that education should be “directed to the development of the child’s personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential.” A special reporter for the U.N. Human Rights Commission has said that the case could be made that the British Government’s target-and-test regime is against the convention because it is designed to meet government objectives, rather than the development of the child. Katarina Tomasevsi told the Guardian: “Wherever testing is introduced…it tends to overwhelm the whole design of education. Teachers have to teach to the test because that’s how children are evaluated and how teachers are evaluated. The voice of children is missing.” Our Schools Ourselves Vol.13, No.2 (issue 74) Winter 2004 SUMMER 2005 21 AROUND PEEL A Look at Teacher BY MARINA WILLATS Dan Rollings stood in front of the classroom bulletin board. It was typical of what you would find in most classrooms: two countries drawn and labelled in the familiar venn diagram with the title ‘Similarities and Differences.’ One side was England and the other side was Canada. In the differences section, Dan read, “You can ski in Canada, but not after 5 p.m. because you may be attacked by wild boars.” Dan chuckled. He and his hosts, Kate and Coralie, who schools,” says Hardy. “It allows colleague, Lynne Burnett, are would travel to Dan and Lynne’s us to learn from each other and Canadian guests in this class- school, Huttonville PS two apply that knowledge in our room and the English students weeks later. During their stay, own schools.” hope to hear first-hand accounts Dan bunked in the town of Both administrators decided of these savage attacks. Willeton at the house of an to encourage staff to take Lynn, 29 and Dan, 26, educator assistant while Lynne advantage of the partnership arrived in London, England just stayed in the country at and consider applying for the before the beginning of the Coralie’s cosy thatched annexe. exchange. For Lynne, it was March break, chosen to repre- Their time would be spent at .D. more than just a P opportu- sent their school in a teacher Danesfield Academy, a school nity. “My parents are both from exchange. They planned to which has forged a close Somerset. They came to Canada spend their time observing relationship with Lynne and soon after they married.” If her teaching practices and deliver- Dan’s home school. parents had stayed in Somerset, ing a few lessons on Canadian Last spring, Huttonville’s Lynne would have likely history. Unfortunately, they had principal, Mary Jane Hardy, attended a school much like not planned any lessons on how traded places with the headmas- Danesfield. It was a chance for to survive a wild boar attack. ter of Danesfield. “The her to see a different side of her After their six-hour flight, exchange is a great professional history and to connect with the they took a three-hour-long bus development opportunity for family members who remained ride to Somerset to meet their administration and staff at both in Somerset. WHAT DO LYNNE AND DAN SAY ABOUT DANESFIELD? They observed the set-up of ability groupings which vary from subject to subject; they felt the organization of the groups really empowered the students. Lynne plans on studying England’s National Standards Curriculum to compare and find links to our Provincial Curriculum. 22 PEEL PASSAGES EXCHANGES After Dan and Lynne settled First. “I was constantly struck much like back home, though into their respective ‘homes’ by the history of the surround- the teachers gathered at the and used the weekend to reset ings which seemed so common- local pub where they talked their internal clocks, they were place to them,” says Dan. Lynne shop with the staff over fish ’n’ ready to face their new students. adds, “I was impressed by the chips and ale. Plenty of ale. Dan Dan started his day with what behaviour exhibited by the and Lynne spent the rest of their he called a traditional English students. Sure they chatted as days observing classes at breakfast – coffee, burnt toast, they walked toward the gym but Danesfield, which houses marmalade and cereal – while as soon as they entered, they Grades 4–8, and the feeder Lynne had a gentler start to the became silent and respectful. school, Knight’s Templar. When day with a cup of tea delivered You could hear a pin drop.” they were not in the school, they to her room. “It was the best tea As the students made their way visited Plymouth, Dartmouth I’ve ever had,” exclaimed to their classrooms, Dan and and Lindton. They were con- Lynne. Once they arrived, they Lynne expected to face students stantly in awe of the juxtaposi- found that school couldn’t be waiting to listen attentively. But tion of the historical and more typically British, in fact, they soon realized students are modern-day conveniences; much like a popular children’s much the same across the pond. though refreshingly, not a mall novel, minus the magic. The “The students were attentive as in sight. students wore uniforms – not a long as our history lesson Dan and Lynne ended their glint of jewelry in sight – and, appealed to the interests of 12- trip with a desire to continue without an intercom, gather year-old boys – blood, guts and their connection to Danesfield, daily in the gym to hear the war.” But the real fun started possibly by creating student ‘e- announcements. “It’s like Harry when the students posed their pals.’ And one last trip to the Potter,” commented Dan. “The own questions: In Canada, do pub. As a special treat, Lynne’s students sit in their assigned you all drive dog sleds? Are all uncle brought his group, The houses named after the histori- you police dressed like Mount- Morris Men, to send them off cal families of Somerset.” Kate ies? Do you have houses? Do you with some traditional songs. As is the staff leader of the Luttrel have cars? This same question the fire roared and the band house. The earliest known would be directed at Coralie played, Lynne and Dan danced Luttrell was Sir Geoffrey, aid to when she stood in front of the the night away with their new King John, who joined his Canadian students. friends. ÿ rebellion against Richard the Dan and Lynne’s day ended WHAT DO KATE AND CORALIE SAY ABOUT HUTTONVILLE? They were impressed with the relaxed nature of the teachers; they felt the teachers had a much better rapport with the students and are not as rigid as the English teachers. They were interested in gaining more informa- tion on how we integrate our special needs students. In England they are slowly moving in that direction. SUMMER 2005 23 AROUND PEEL Book Reviews diversity of practical projects and learning strategies. and discoveries about the natural world. In the “Approaches to The “Plants and Animals” Learning” section, readers will section includes activities for find innovative ideas for studying forests and monarch exploring the natural world, butterflies, as well as a “Great promoting environmental Lakes Food Web Drama” and citizenship and integrated instructions for creating a project-based learning, along tropical rainforest simulation in with opportunities for taking a school gym. One of the most action and practising authentic compelling articles looks at the democracy. A particularly research showing that having interesting article is “Guiding animals in the classroom Your School Toward Environ- contributes both to learning and mental Literacy,” which outlines to the development of empathy a step-by-step, whole-school and respect for all living TEACHING GREEN: approach used successfully by creatures. Included are useful THE ELEMENTARY dozens of Calgary schools over guidelines for animal care and the past decade to evaluate recommendations on the most YEARS what a school is already doing appropriate classroom pets. Tim Grant and Gail Littlejohn and then develop a workable While the book focuses on Subtitled “Hands-on Learning plan. helping kids develop a strong in Grades K–5,” this 240-page, In “Exploring Nature connection with the natural large-format paperback contains Around Us,” the largest section world, there are many articles over 50 of the best teaching of the book, a Grade 1 teacher that focus on the social and strategies and activities contrib- describes taking her class on an global aspects of our environ- uted to the non-profit Green overnight trip; a naturalist ment. For example, readers will Teacher magazine during the suggests ways to get the most find activities for promoting past decade. Almost all were out of a pond study; an article global awareness in Kindergar- updated and revised for this titled “The Numbered Forest” ten, ideas for organizing a special 2005 anthology. As in gives ides for incorporating school-wide Development Days their 2004 book, Teaching schoolyard trees into mathemat- theme, and a recipe for baking a Green: The Middle Years (for ics lessons. One author “One World Cake” to help Grades 6–8), Toronto editors Tim describes how observing students understand how food Grant and Gail Littlejohn have patterns in nature – such as the links us to people and places assembled a wealth of kid- nest-building behaviour of around the world. One section tested ideas contributed by squirrels – can help students to describes a variety of projects to educators from across North discover basic concepts of link school and community, America, covering a wide wo ecology. T others discuss the such as creating community spectrum of environmental use of creative journals as a green maps and building topics and presenting a large springboard to fresh insights watershed models that educate 24 PEEL PASSAGES AROUND PEEL the community about local Who knew? Simon Winchester threats to water quality. The eloquently crafts a biography of final presents ideas for explor- the main players involved in the ing the environment through making of the Oxford English literature, imagination and Dictionary – an undertaking celebration. that began in 1857 and took 70 The book is attractively years to complete. It is a social designed and organized, and, and intellectual history which for each article and activity, the throws light on the deep editors have identified appropri- connection between madness ate grade levels, subject areas, and genius. Along with plenty key concepts, skills and materi- of interesting details, which you als. One other teacher-friendly can casually throw out at your detail is the practical “lay-flat” next Trivial Pursuit game, he binding. The hands-on projects also keeps you pleasantly and learning strategies in excited as you make your way to Teaching Green: The Elementary the “I didn’t see that coming” Years are sure to inspire all THE PROFESSOR climax. educators who are seeking This is not a newly released innovative ideas for incorporat- AND THE MADMAN novel, but a relatively undiscov- Simon Winchester ing green themes into their ered one. It’s just a wonderful programs. sus·pense n. story. For more information, or to 1. The condition of being order a copy for $27.95, contact: Marina Willats uncertain about an outcome or Green Teacher decision. 95 Robert St. 2. A feeling of anxiety or Toronto, ON M5S 2K5 excitement resulting from such (416) 960-1244 uncertainty. (888) 804-1486 3. Producing a pleasant excite- www.greenteacher.com ment. War, prostitutes, murder, madness…and the dictionary? Huh? AFFLUENT PARENT INDEX California ranks all of its schools on Academic Performance Index (API) that is available on a web site. This has become a driver for real estate prices as buyers look for houses in areas with high API scores, with the scores affecting prices by as much as 20 percent. Because the test scores are largely correlated with socio-econimic status, some educators call the API the “affluent parent index.” Our Schools Ourselves Vol.14, No.2 (issue 78) Winter 2005 SUMMER 2005 25 AROUND PEEL What can you contribute? Writers Staff Lines Share with your colleagues the comings and goings Wanted! at your school; celebrations, exciting events and special announcements. Quality Teaching, Quality Program A great chance to celebrate the excellence that goes on in your classroom or the classroom of a colleague The Peel Passages that you admire. Editing Team is looking Book / Resource Review Read a good book lately? Have you found a resource for contributions to be that you like? Write up a summary of a new resource or book you have found helpful or enjoyable and considered for the next perhaps add tips to integrate the ideas covered by the resource into the classroom. edition of the paper. Editorials / Letters to the Editor What education issues matter to you? Share your Submit your articles to Kurt Uriarte feelings and insight. email@example.com All submissions will be considered for inclusion by the editing team. the Pride Committee of Peel presents the second annual PRIDE DAY PICNIC IN PEEL when Saturday, July 16 where Heart Lake Noon to 4:00 p.m. Conservation Area Food available for purchase from Peel HIV/AIDS Network Come and help us celebrate! Prizes, Draws, Games, FUN! For more information contact Jen Colborne · firstname.lastname@example.org 26 PEEL PASSAGES AROUND PEEL PETL Anti-Racism/Equity Committee invites you to MARCH WITH PRIDE when Sunday, June 26 where Southeast corner of at 1:30 p.m. Bloor St. and Church St. Marching in the Pride Parade sends a powerful message to our LGBT colleagues, students and their families that they are safe in our schools. What better way to end a year of hard work but with the cheers and thanks of the communities we inspire? For more information contact Jen Colborne · email@example.com Parking and a mileage allowance or GO Train fares will be paid for by PETL for those who march with ETFO. Keep your tickets/parking receipts and see Jen at the marshalling area for your claim form. SUMMER 2005 27 THE LONG AND 74, the Education Accountability WORKPLACE VIOLENCE WINDING ROAD Act, passed – although the provision CONTINUED FROM PAGE 12 CONTINUED FROM PAGE 4 making extra-curricular activities full expulsion comes only after an mandatory was never proclaimed. expulsion hearing. If a student is recommended to school councils Bill 81, the Safe Schools Act, fully expelled, they can’t attend any the creation of a College of Teach- established criminal record checks, publicly funded school in Ontario ers, the creation of EQAO and introduced a student code of until after they have attended a mandatory testing. conduct and downloaded student Strict-Discipline Program or an In June of that year, the Pro- suspensions to teachers. Bill 80, the equivalent program. gressive Conservatives led by Mike Stability and Excellence in Educa- The Ministry of Education’s Harris won the provincial election. tion Act, 2001, introduced teacher Violence-Free Schools Policy 1994 In November, the government professional learning and requires a Violent Incident Form to slashed $500 million from educa- recertification, and required that all be completed and filed in the OSR tion funding. In 1996, the govern- new collective agreements have if a student is suspended or ment repealed the Employment three-year terms. ETFO responded expelled for violent reasons. This is Equity Act. In addition, the Harris with its ‘Accountability Yes/ not always being done. As a result government passed the Education Recertification No’ proposal and the reader of an OSR does not Quality and Accountability Office creative bargaining strategies. always have a complete picture of a Act, which established EQAO and Lastly, Bill 110, the Quality in the student’s behaviour and the introduced standardized assess- Classroom Act, 2001, established an resulting risk. Staff Development ment across the grades. In addition, entry-to the-profession test and a and Student Support Services has the Act established a college of provincial performance appraisal assured me that future improve- teachers made up of teachers and model. ments to the SIS system will make government appointees and In September 2003, I began my completion of such forms a compo- included disciplinary procedures. first term as President of the Peel nent of generating a suspension In 1997, Bill 104, the Fewer Local. There were elections at all letter. These forms remain in the School Boards Act, altered the levels of government: provincial, OSR for a minimum of three years. system of education governance by municipal and federal. If you feel that a violent situa- reducing the number of school On October 2, 2003, after eight tion is not being remedied appro- boards from 129 to 72; 31 of them years of destructive power, the priately, please contact the Peel public district school boards. On Conservatives were defeated by the ETFO office. August 17 of that year, officers of Liberals, who campaigned on a The Ministry of Education’s FWTAO and OPSTF signed the platform of education improvement. Violence-Free Schools Policy can be application for incorporation of a The federation has continued to viewed at: www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/ new federation – ETFO. In October, press for changes to the regressive document/policy/vfreeng.html ÿ the government introduced Bill 160, legislation passed by the Conserva- the Education Equality Improvement tive government. Although the Doug Hitchcock Act, and 126,000 teachers left their battle must continue, the Liberal ETFO Occupational Health and schools for two weeks in protest. government has made some Safety Teacher Advisor In 1998, I was elected to the positive changes which demon- Tel: (905) 890-1010 ext. 2686 position of Second Vice President of strate increased commitment to Pager: (416) 370-5927 the Peel Local. During my first year public education. Fax: (905) 890-8893 in the Local office, changes to It is through continued action education continued to be made by NOTES by the Federation and its members an unsympathetic government. Bill *The expulsion/suspension of a pupil is not that the battle will be won. After 33 160 was implemented; principals mandatory if: years in the profession, it is time for and vice-principals were removed (a) the pupil does not have the ability to me to step aside. I am confident in control his or her behaviour; from the federations but occasional the ability of the leadership and (b) the pupil does not have the ability to teachers were added; class size and members of the Local to carry on understand the foreseeable consequences preparation time were regulated in the fight. of his or her behaviour; or legislation; the province took It has been an eventful ride, (c) the pupil’s continuing presence in the control of funding. school does not create an unacceptable risk and I have enjoyed every minute. ÿ In 1999, the Tories were re- to the safety of any person. elected and continued their assault O. Reg. 37/01, s. 2. Reg. 106/01, s. 1. on the public education system. Bill 28 PEEL PASSAGES Members are reminded that the delegates at the 2001 Annual Meeting passed the following motion: “That ETFO encourage members not to participate in any EQAO marking exercises.” Delegates informed the Annual Meeting that the results of these assessments have been misused to undermine the teaching profession and denigrate the success of students in Ontario. If teachers participate in the marking of these assessments, they may be perceived as condoning and supporting the inappropriate use of assessment results. EQAO has been granted “provider” status by the Ontario College of Teachers. The EQAO has applied for accreditation of one or more marking processes under the Professional Learning Program. Therefore, by marking, a member would be supporting the government’s recertification legislation. The ETFO position Accountability Yes/Recertification No advises members to avoid taking any professional development from providers accredited by the Ontario College of Teachers under the Professional Learning Program. Members are advised: •Not to participate in any EQAO marking exercise September 1, 2003 480 University Avenue, Suite 1000, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1V2 Telephone: 416-962-3836 Toll-free: 1-888-838-3836 Fax: 416-642-2424 Website: www.etfo.ca Your resolve made the difference. Working together, anything is possible.