Ontario education minister says school boards can delay Grade 9 EQAO testing

WATCH ABOVE: The Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) announced that LDSB teachers will be one of eight school boards participating in a one-day strike on January 8.

TORONTO – Education Minister Stephen Lecce says school boards will have to make individual decisions on whether to proceed with next week’s Grade 9 standardized test in math.

Amid a contentious round of contract negotiations, public high school teachers in Ontario have been on a work-to-rule campaign since November that includes not preparing students for that test.

Boards were set to start administering the test on Monday, but given the job action, Lecce says boards will have to decide whether to proceed or delay the test to June.

He says the test provides valuable information to students, families, and the province about how students are performing in math.

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Ontario public high school teachers to hold 4th day of job action

The announcement comes the same day as high school teachers stage a one-day strike in select boards across the province, the latest in a series of rotating strikes.

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association also announced today that they will be starting an administrative work-to-rule campaign on Monday, including not participating in standardized testing, preparing report cards or participating in Ministry of Education initiatives.

OECTA, which represents 45,000 teachers, said it has bargaining dates with the province Thursday and Friday.

High school teachers were angered when the Progressive Conservative government announced that average high school class sizes would jump from 22 to 28 and four e-learning courses would be mandatory for graduation.

The province has since scaled back those increases, to an average class size of 25 and two e-learning courses, but the union says that’s not good enough.

Lecce has repeatedly said the key sticking point in negotiations is compensation, with the union demanding a roughly two-per-cent wage increase and the government offering one per cent.

Wednesday’s strike by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’

Ontario's high school teachers and educational workers from eight school boards on strike for one day. Picketers strike in Mississauga.

Ontario's high school teachers and educational workers from eight school boards on strike for one day. Picketers strike in Mississauga.

Kamil Karamali / Global News

Federation targets eight school boards. And because the union represents education workers and support staff in elementary schools in some boards, both elementary and high schools are closed in three boards: Algoma District School Board, Greater Essex County District School Board, and Avon Maitland District School Board.

High schools are closed in Peel District School Board, the District School Board of Niagara, Limestone District School Board and Renfrew Country District School Board.

All schools remained open in the Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board, as its OSSTF members are 25 noon-hour aides.

The union, which represents 60,000 teachers and education workers, began one-day walkouts on Dec. 4 with a job action that closed schools across the province. It has followed up with weekly rotating strikes that have closed all secondary schools and some elementary schools at the affected boards.

In December, a government-appointed mediator called off negotiations between the province and the union, saying the parties remained too far apart. No further dates are scheduled

Ontario's high school teachers and educational workers from eight school boards on strike for one day. Picketers strike in Mississauga.

Ontario's high school teachers and educational workers from eight school boards on strike for one day. Picketers strike in Mississauga.

Kamil Karamali / Global News

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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