On the heels of Canada’s announcement last week that it is pulling out of the Common Core-aligned program, parents in Ontario are facing new questions about how to keep their children safe in classrooms with little English language instruction.
The province announced in March that it would withdraw from the U.S.-led program, which involves teaching students in English at home, and instead offer students in other countries an alternative to the Common Language Proficiency Test (CLPT).
The move, coupled with a pledge by the government to help students with disabilities prepare for school, led to widespread criticism of the move and raised questions about the province’s ability to keep students safe.
While parents in the province had hoped to have the CLPT-based program continue, many in the public and private sector have been reluctant to abandon the standard, and a number of schools in Ontario have announced they are pulling out.
“The CLPT has had some negative impacts on our schools, and I think the way we deal with that is to work with parents,” said Janice Sutter, president of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, in an interview.
In response, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced in February that the province would phase out the CLTT, and that it was partnering with the University of Toronto and the City of Toronto to create a “learning platform” that could help teachers meet the new standard.
The province announced the partnership in April, and the province is expected to announce the launch of the platform later this month.
But a number parents say they’re concerned about what it will mean for their children’s learning.
One parent, who asked not to be identified, said she’s worried the CLITT-based test will lead to teachers making “mistakes” that she fears could lead to her child failing to meet the standards.
Another parent said the testing has been a distraction from the curriculum.
When I see a teacher say, ‘I don’t know how to write a sentence,’ or a parent say, a parent that has disabilities, they have that ability to say, there are different ways to communicate that is not in the curriculum,” said the parent, speaking on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to the media.
Some parents also said they were worried the province was shifting the blame for the lack of English proficiency tests for children who do not speak English from the province to the teachers.
This is a problem, said a parent who has three children in Grade 6, and has been trying to educate them for years.
She’s concerned that the state is not providing any resources to teachers to help them meet the CLPLTS standards.
They need a more comprehensive approach, she said.
There are other teachers that have already left the province because of that, she added.
Students have already been having problems.
They have missed class because of the lack, she continued.
My children are already having problems with math.
I know this is not the only thing, but I want them to be aware of the problems that exist.”
Another concern for some parents is that the testing will put them at a disadvantage in the marketplace.
A recent report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said the Ontario CLPT testing is “not a cost-effective or cost-efficient way to assess teachers.”
The report said the cost to the provincial government of a CLPT test is between $100,000 and $250,000, with the costs related to a “test preparation, testing, and certification process.”
Ontario’s testing and certification costs have increased $3.5 million since 2010, according to a report by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE).
That cost increase was the result of a $7 million grant from the federal government to Ontario in 2012, which was intended to encourage the use of a national standard-setting system.
Critics of the testing, however, say the Ontario system will continue to lead to under-resourced teachers and ineffective curriculum, with teachers “significantly underpaid” and students being “lackadaisical” about learning.
The report noted that the average annual salary of an Ontario teacher has increased by just $14,400 since 2010.
More than half of Ontario teachers are now unionized, and more than 60% of public-sector teachers have at least one student who does not speak the language.
The CFIB report said Ontario teachers “continue to experience high levels of under-training, under-reporting, and under-performing.”
Despite the concerns, some parents say the province has been doing its best to meet Ontario’s CLPT standards, and they’re optimistic that the Ontario test will continue.
However, they are concerned that, even with the elimination of the CLPPTS testing, there will be teachers in the system who aren’t meeting standards.
That’s because the Ontario government has also