As I indicated in yesterday’s post, there is a rather unexpected thread of tension that is being woven into the negotiations between Ontario’s teachers and the school districts that employ them. It’s not about wage freezes, class size or benefits. Instead the dispute centers on the right of teachers to decide the type and timing of the formal classroom assessments that have become part of life in today’s schools. In addition to provincial testing in math and language at grades 3, 6, and 9, most jurisdictions now require that teachers administer diagnostic assessments at least twice a year, with the results being reported to the district office through an increasingly complex process of data warehousing. These tests are completed in addition to the day-to-day process of assessment and evaluation that has become part of the education discourse in this province and others.
Many teachers have found the current requirements to be time-consuming, intrusive and of questionable value to their classroom program. Many schools and districts have come to count on the assessment to plan strategies that will help improve provincial test scores.
It may seem odd, but I think that our union is wrong in pushing this point too far. In fact, I tend to believe that, if the current tension around control of classroom assessment is resolved in favour of the union position, the results will, ultimately, be negative.
But, I’m going to hold off on elaborating for a few more hours and, instead, throw a few questions out to educators, parents and others who have a direct stake in this.
If you are an elementary teacher in Ontario, what form of assessments are currently required by your school district? What happens to the data collected through these tools? How are the results used at the school level?
If you’re a parent, do you see the results of the formal assessments done each year at the school level? Are you aware that they are being conducted?
If, as an educator (teacher, administrator, special education support person), you were given the option to choose a different type of assessment, or a different schedule on which to administer it, what changes would you make?
How important is this issue to you?