Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bound to collect dust?

I caught wind of this report on the day of the snowstorm that wasn't when I went to the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education searching for whether or not my Wednesday morning class had been cancelled. It was on the OISE front page, having been released back in January.
It is Stakeholders' Perspectives on Induction for New Teachers: Critical Analysis of Teacher Testing and Mentorship, published in December 2010.
My first reaction after reading through it this evening (I set it aside... had to focus on classwork) was to give my head a few shakes and check what year it was. The data research for this report was done in 2005-06 -- important to note as a time of transition between the Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test (OTQT) and the New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP). Fair to note however that one of the researchers involved was ill and then passed away before the report was published.
For a report released when the NTIP is entering its fifth/sixth year of reality, it deals preciously little with any real critique of that program itself. The bulk of the text focuses on the failings of the OTQT as a method of adequately preparing teachers for the classroom-- which, if that's your perspective, you've been celebrating its death virtually since the day the data collection for this report ended. Any analysis comes in the conclusion.
NTIP is also intended to address the transition from student to teacher. NTs (new teachers) in our study describe how they had felt overwhelmed in their first years teaching with very few supports. They want a program that can be personalized and based on individual needs, and to help them with day-today activities. SAs (Principals) and TEs (teacher educators) are skeptical about how the provincial program would unfold, and wonder about adequate funding to allow for release time. They did not necessarily believe that a one-on-one mentor-mentee relationship was ideal. TEs discussed the need for careful selection of mentors, as well as selection of those with whom they will be partnered. (42)

Thus, the competencies defined in NTIP and in the TPA – and SAs’ application of them – become
“high-stakes.” The role of the SA is particularly salient, since it is her/his sole responsibility to apply these criteria in the evaluation of NTs under her/his supervision through the TPA process. SA conceptions of good teaching and how those perceptions relate to the competencies defined by the Ministry are therefore privileged. These competencies – and SAs’ and districts’ applications of them – become “high-stakes,” since poor evaluations appear on the teacher’s Certificate of Qualification. Consequently, SAs’ conceptions of good teaching and how those perceptions relate to the competencies defined by the Ministry are privileged. (43)
And so on.
In a nutshell, both are still bad because they only serve to reinforce the status quo, or narrowly defined criteria.
This report? Destined to gain some dust on the shelves at OISE and the other participating faculties of education. The current government is unlikely to adversely change the NTIP it setup five/six years ago. Any change in government isn't going to change things away from an NTIP model -- possibly, maybe (and I'm not scaremongering) we'd see a return to a more aggressive form of teacher testing.
The question not asked? OK, not asked because the data collection ended four years ago?
How many new teachers have had their Ontario College of Teachers' certification (ah, the OCT...) revoked after an unsuccessful NTIP? That number, if it even exists, isn't reported out anywhere I'm aware of.


Doretta said...

So much for accountability at the OCT.

I do recall this survey way back in the day. I think I was called to comment on it at the time it was being designed.

I agree that not much will change.

Education Reporter said...


It would be a great question for some entreprising reporter writing at a provincial level to ask the college of teachers. But I don't want to reveal too many of my "bucket list" of education articles that I haven' written yet...
I also am not (yet?) writing at a provincial level.


Doretta said...

Let's hope you will be writing at the provincial level soon!

I can only say that there are so many structural impediments to teacher accountability, from the federations right on up to the Education Act itself, it will take ages to fix---unless there is another mechanism to work around them.