Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Valuation to information: ARC changes

I tripped across this while writing the Toronto District School Board ARC post Tuesday. The province very quietly posted an updated pupil accommodation guideline on its website June 26. That link will take you to the page with both the June 26, 2009 PDF and the original October 2006 PDF.
Key changes based on a quick review:
  • School "valuation" has become school "information" for every reference in the guideline-- Interesting given the weight one might attach to value vs. information.
  • A whole new section on accommodation review terms of reference (see below)
  • Changes to the review process wording on the school information profiles
  • New section under the review process regarding accommodation options
  • Big change in the way a committee's final report is presented to trustees (see below)
It's still unclear to me at this point when these new guidelines apply-- although it's already been suggested they don't apply to any reviews currently underway.
The big changes here are the addition of terms of reference, where the ministry indicates the board must tell the committee its mandate.
The mandate will refer to the board's educational and accommodation objectives in undertaking the ARC and reflect the board's strategy for supporting student achievement. The Terms of Reference will contain Reference Criteria that frame the parameters of ARC discussion. The Reference Criteria include the educational and accommodation criteria for examining schools under review and accommodation options. Examples may include grade configuration, school utilization, and program offerings.
The Terms of Reference will identify ARC membership and the role of voting and non-voting members, including board and school administration. The Terms of Reference will also describe the procedures for the ARC, including meetings; material, support, and analysis to be provided by board administration; and the material to be produced by the ARC.
This should be a big help in addressing a lack of clarify and focus identified by many committee members on past reviews. It was brought up in both the Declining Enrolment Working Group report and elsewhere. The submission of the final report should be clearer too, and excise the feeling the reports are manhandled by staff before they're presented to the full board of trustees.
It will deliver its Accommodation Report to the board’s Director of Education, who will have the
Accommodation Report posted on the board’s website. The ARC will present its Accommodation Report to the Board of Trustees. Board administration will examine the ARC Accommodation Report and present the administration analysis and recommendations to the Board of Trustees.
This is a big change-- the ARCs have not, that I'm aware of, been presenting their recommendation to trustees as an ARC. If anything, ARC members have spoken to the committee's recommendation in public input following receipt of the dual ARC-admin report. This will add transparency and some accountability to the process.
More to come on this as I learn more...