Eight in 10 Ontario parents support standardized testing—the teacher unions don’t

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Appeared in National Newswatch, February 11, 2022
Eight in 10 Ontario parents support standardized testing—the teacher unions don’t

According to a new poll, 80 per cent of Ontario parents of K-12 children support standardized testing in schools. The poll, conducted by Leger and commissioned by the Fraser Institute, surveyed 1,204 parents of children aged five to 17 in public and independent schools across Canada.

Standardized tests help parents understand how their child—and their child’s school—is doing in reading, writing and math. This is especially important now, as students continue to face COVID-related disruptions.

And yet, the teacher unions—namely the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and l’Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens—which have long opposed standardized testing, want the provincial government to “order the cessation of any other initiatives designed to measure the performance of Ontario’s publicly funded education system while it is operating in a state of duress” during the pandemic.

As the saying goes, never let a crisis go to waste.

Clearly, however, this new Leger poll places the teacher unions’ anti-testing stance firmly out of step with the vast majority of Ontario parents. Again, 80 per cent of Ontario parents of K-12 children support standardized testing (and among those parents, 41 per cent expressed strong support). While only 19 per cent expressed opposition to standardized tests, with only six per cent of parents strongly opposing testing.

A different question in the same Leger poll found that 78 per cent of Ontario parents feel their child has fallen behind in school due to the government’s pandemic policies and COVID-19. One-in-five Ontario parents of K-12 children said their child is behind and they have no confidence their child’s school has a plan to catch them up.

Of course, early in the pandemic, Ontario led the country in school closures, closing schools for 20 weeks (between March 14, 2020 and May 15, 2021). To kick off the new year, Ontario schools were again closed, only reopening on Jan. 17. For Ontario students to improve, now more than ever it’s critical that parents and educators be given a clear picture of where students stand academically, so every student can be supported and succeed in school.

According to the poll, that’s important to parents, too. Fully 98 per cent of Ontario parents of K-12 children think it’s important to know, by a fair and objective measure, how their child is doing (in reading, writing and math) relative to other students. More specifically, 74 per cent of parents believe this is very important compared to only two per cent who think it’s not.

Ontario kids have suffered school closures and endless disruptions in their learning over the past two years. Parents support standardized testing and want to know how their children are doing in school. Delivering that basic expectation for the province’s children should be a priority for Education Minister Stephen Lecce and Premier Doug Ford, despite any teacher union rhetoric.

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