The Math Proficiency Test is ‘a slap in the face’ for student teachers

Queen’s ConEd students speak to the Math Proficiency Test 

Student teachers talk new certification requirement and its discriminatory nature.
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“This is a slap in the face.” 
 
Olivia Malito, ConEd ’19, had this to say when asked about the new math proficiency test (MPT) implemented by the Ontario Ministry of Education.
 
The MPT was created by the Ministry of Education, developed and administered by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), and mandated by the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) as a requirement for certification.
 
All student teachers must take the test, regardless of the subjects they specialize in. 
 
According to the MPT requirements, student teachers in Ontario who become certified between Mar. 31, 2020 and Aug. 31, 2021, will earn their certification only if they pass the test by the end of August.
 
Applicants who fail to pass will not receive their certification, with no extensions or exceptions. 
 
In September 2020, when the Ontario Progressive Conservatives passed legislation to mandate the MPT, the Ontario Teacher Candidates’ Council (OTCC)—an organization representing teacher candidates and temporarily licensed teachers—submitted a judicial review to the Superior Court of Ontario. 
 
The judicial review aims to challenge the validity of the MPT itself. 
 
“We were under the impression that the test would not run this year, just because of the lawsuit,” Kate Malefant-McNeice, ConEd ’19, said in an interview with The Journal.
 
The judicial review submitted by the OTCC stated that the “test is not equitable, fair, justified or backed by data.” 
 
The organization also stated that the EQAO office has been “rushed into creating a massive test” in just under a few months. 
 
“The government kind of surprised us,” Malefant-McNeice said.
 
According to the Ontario Ministry of Education, the MPT tests math skills up to grade 9 concepts. The test lasts three hours, allotting two and a half minutes to complete each question. 
 
Despite the information given to the teacher candidates, the limited timing has left many uncertain of their ability to perform well on the test. 
 
Another concern is that the MPT may be incorrectly categorized as “standardized testing.” A standardized test uses the same questions for everyone, but Malito said the student teachers were told the MPT would take questions from a bank—meaning each student would receive a different set of questions. 
 
“How are they developing and researching these questions to maintain [the MPT’s] fairness?” Malito questioned. 
 
“The chief lesson that we are taught as teachers is to give our students authority in their own learning and part of that means choices. We were not given a choice when this thing was reinstated.”
 
In an email statement to the The Journal, Peter Chin, associate dean of the Faculty of Education, said the faculty has expressed their concerns about all facets of the MPT, including implementation issues, during meetings with Ministry officials. 
 
“Our response has been ongoing throughout the year but is now ramping up to support our teacher candidates,” Chin wrote.
 
Chin added that the faculty has arranged five sessions related to preparing for more “challenging elements of the math curriculum.”  
 
Since its initial announcement, Chin said the faculty has continuously raised their concerns about the purpose of the MPT. 
 
“What makes a good teacher is not their knowledge and their subjects, but it is their pedagogy—it is how they teach and what they teach,” Malefant-McNeice said. 

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