Ottawa

Teachers must build 'math culture': testing agency head

The chair of the agency tasked with developing a math test for student teachers in Ontario says all educators in the province — not just the ones most likely to teach mathematics — must be prepared to help students improve their numeracy.

All educators — not just those planning to teach math — must take standardized test

Ontario's Education Quality and Accountability Office is developing a standardized math test for all student teachers. (Shutterstock)

The chair of the agency tasked with developing a math test for student teachers in Ontario says all educators in the province — not just the ones most likely to teach mathematics — must be prepared to help students improve their numeracy.

"We want to develop a math culture, and by having history teachers or literature teachers refresh their math skills, they could end up one day being in a math classroom," Cameron Montgomery, chair of the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) and a former education professor at the University of Ottawa, told CBC's Ottawa Morning

The Ontario government has tasked the EQAO with developing and scoring a math test for all student teachers, who must pass it to obtain their teaching licence. 

Montgomery said even those who plan never to teach math will still have to take the test and pass it.

Montgomery said the province wants to test teachers in a "uniform manner," therefore all student teachers must take it. 

"I know from my background as a teacher and professor of education that you do encounter mathematical concepts in different courses and in different classes — something that's called multidisciplinarity," he said.

Cameron Montgomery chairs the EQAO. (Submitted)

Closing the gap

Montgomery said the province asked that the test focus 70 per cent on math skills and 30 per cent on teaching knowledge or theories. 

He said a team of experts will develop the questions based on the current curriculum up to the Grade 11 level. Scenario-based question will make up the theoretical component, Montgomery said.

"It will be very important for teacher candidates to have this knowledge and these skills to move forward to teach."

Montgomery said there remains a gap between learning the math and teaching it.

"The actual writing of the test doesn't close that gap, it's definitely the preparation beforehand that leads to that," he said.

Montgomery is cautioning teachers and school boards to give the idea some time.

"I think we need to see what the challenges are and the benefits that are part of this process. There will be both, definitely," he said.

Montgomery said it's not yet known when the test will first be administered.

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