Nine out of 10 parents in Atlantic Canada support standardized testing

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Appeared in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner, June 8, 2022
Nine out of 10 parents in Atlantic Canada support standardized testing

According to a recent poll, nine out of 10 Atlantic Canadian parents of K/P-12 children support standardized testing to know how their children—and their children’s schools—are doing in reading, writing and math. As such, the rhetoric against standardized testing from some teacher unions remains out of touch with parents of school-aged children.

The Leger poll (commissioned by the Fraser Institute) conducted 1,204 online surveys with a representative sample from every province or region in Canada. Again, 90 per cent of parents of K-12 children in Atlantic Canada support standardized testing for their children (higher than the national average of 84 per cent).

While many teacher unions have long opposed standardized testing, during the pandemic there was an intensified effort to end or severely curtail standardized testing of students—in other words, the fair objective assessment of student progress and proficiency in core subjects.

For example, according to the 2021-22 Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) guidebook, “the NSTU does not support the administration of standardized tests.” Newfoundland and Labrador has cancelled standardized testing this school year and possibly beyond, likely welcome news to the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association, which has included standardized testing on a list of recommended “potential cost savings.”

Yet arguably, tests are needed now more than ever to assess how students are faring after two years of disruption and learning loss. According to the poll, 59 per cent of parents of K/P-12 children in Atlantic Canada say their child has fallen behind academically due to COVID and the government’s pandemic policies, and 17 per cent have no confidence their child’s school has a plan to catch them up.

Indeed, the feedback from K-12 parents in Atlantic Canada is clear—they want to understand how their children and their children’s schools are doing, by a fair and objective measure. Not only should governments reject calls to curtail or end standardized tests in the region, they should improve, strengthen and expand the tests with full knowledge that parents overwhelmingly support this tried-and-tested tool.

Now is the time to prioritize standardized testing across Atlantic Canada to get a clear picture of the learning loss our children have faced and get them back on track.