Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The Ministry of Education recently released two program / policy memoranda on the public portion of its website. These get posted quietly and often don't merit any particular news release, although some do. For example, PPM150 was all about healthy foods in schools and that garnered a requisite number of media hits as awareness of it spread across Ontario. Several years ago, the PPM on Quality Daily Physical Activity (QDPA) was released, and years later I sometimes wonder what happened to this particular memo.
Last week, PPM 151 was released, along with PPM 152. The first touches on provincial priorities for professional development days-- the province mandates two of these days throughout the school year be dedicated to provincial priorities. These days, provincial priorities are improving achievement levels on provincial assessments (read: upping EQAO scores) and integrating full-day learning. From the memo:
The criteria that determine the scope of the professional activities for the two PA days required under paragraph 1 of subsection 2(3.1) of Regulation 304 are as follows
  • The professional activities are devoted to the professional learning of teachers with respect to improving student achievement and student success
  • The professional activities are devoted to the professional learning of teachers with respect to closing the gaps in student achievement.
The following are the possible topics for professional activities relating to improving student achievement and student success:
  • early learning
  • performing assessments and evaluations for and of learning
  • facilitating parental and community engagement
  • using data analysis to inform instruction
  • developing and implementing board and school improvement plans
  • creating an equitable and inclusive classroom climate that is conducive to learning
  • developing student and classroom learning profiles
  • facilitating transitions for students who are entering school, changing grades or schools, or leaving school
  • promoting instructional leadership
  • developing skills for teacher inquiry and reflective practice
The following are the possible topics for professional activities relating to closing the gaps in student achievement:
  • developing Individual Education Plans (IEPs)
  • implementing activities related to assistive technologies, differentiated instruction, Universal Design for Learning, and professional learning technologies
  • facilitating parental involvement in Identification, Placement, and Review Committees established under Part II of Ontario Regulation 181/98, "Identification and Placement of Exceptional Pupils", made under the Education Act, and in the development of IEPs
  • using differentiated instructional and assessment strategies and resources that are responsive to students' learning needs and that reflect Ontario's diverse student population
  • developing and implementing strategies to close the gaps in mathematical literacy
  • developing and implementing strategies to close the gaps in literacy
  • developing and implementing strategies to improve boys' literacy
  • developing and implementing early and ongoing instructional interventions
  • using strategies to support English language learners and students in Actualisation linguistique en fran├žais and Perfectionnement du fran├žais
  • integrating the use of manipulative aids and technology to support a range of learning styles
I found this PPM interesting since this is not the first school year these two provincial-priority PD days have been on the calendar. Board were complying with the requirement, getting the info from other means than a publicly posted memo. It leaves part of me wondering why this memo is being posted now.
The other is particularly interesting, as it lays out standards for school boards to meet as they negotiate with an employ principals and vice-principals. Those with longer memories would remember these administrators used to be members of their respective teachers' federations until the Harris-era reforms of the mid-1990s that removed them from these bargaining units (the right decision in this writer's humble opinion). Principal's associations have emerged from the landscape at the board level, and the Ontario Principals' Council has also filled a void. PPM 152 simply codifies how boards are to set the terms of employment with their respective administrator groups. Why it's taken 12 years to do this is also a mystery.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I like that this is so prescriptive.

What would account for the flexibility of local needs?

Is this the first step in a move to Provincial Bargaining proper? Perhaps a plank in the gov't's campaign in the next provinciall election?

Education Reporter said...

Anon 17 Feb. 17:48
First step?
With respect, where have you been?

Provincial federations and their bargaining priorities being applied across the province. See, campaign 200. See 96, 97 walkouts.
Provincial discussion tables being used twice now to set the framework for all agreements across the province.

Short of taking the final step of outright eliminating local contracts, we're already in an age of provincial bargaining.


Anonymous said...

True, but the gov't has never formally announced the move to the public. As a matter of fact it's usually denied by the gov't.

That these standards are now being put into place may be an indication that it's on their radar.

Education Reporter said...

Anon 18 Feb. 07:59
Agreed on need for more government transparency.
However, I would say this path we're all headed down was cut by the federations first, as they moved to achieve equity for their members across the province.

The federations' move to put every local in "provincial takeover" prior to negotiations ensured a provincial federation bargainer was at the table with every school board in the province. If Peel got 3%, then the handful of provincial bargaining team members would push for the same out of the boards they were bargaining with.

The school board / trustee associations' response? If they're sharing and plotting their negotiation tactics together, why shouldn't we?

The ministry's response? Provincial discussion tables.

Other than discussions over benefits, how to implement provincial standards and other more local concerns (ie: retirement gratuities), what's left for local negotiations? Very little.


Anonymous said...

This just make the long arm of central control stronger and further clips the local authority of school if they needed it.

I hated that Mike Harris merged school boards. That bigger is better mentality might be economical but local control and governance of schools has been lost.