Government has confirmed with the Nova Scotia Teachers Union its commitment to fund classroom improvements and to investigate potential changes to PowerSchool. Government has also directed school boards to take immediate steps to address classroom concerns from teachers.
Government introduced the Teachers’ Professional Agreement and Classroom Improvement Act on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The bill establishes the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions, to be composed of classroom teachers from across the province, from elementary, junior, and senior high. It invests $20 million over two years to address issues in the classroom. Within 14 days of the bill being passed, the council will be appointed.
Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey sent a letter to the Nova Scotia Teachers Union to confirm the $20 million funding commitment. Another letter was sent to commit to investigate options to address teacher concerns about PowerSchool. In addition, superintendents have been directed to ensure that school boards do not institute a student retention or no-fail policy.
“We know that teachers and principals do their very best to help all students to reach their full potential including students who are struggling to meet all the curriculum outcomes for their course or grade,” said Ms. Casey. “Teachers and principals, working with parents, are in the best position to decide how students should advance. We trust their professional judgement.”
A new policy on student attendance will be part of the changes to the classroom in 2017 in response to teachers’ concerns. Government has advised school boards that it will immediately resume work on a provincial student attendance policy. A discussion paper to inform a new attendance policy was released last June. More than 1,600 teachers and principals provided feedback.
“We will continue our work with teachers and look forward to working with the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions to finalize the new provincial attendance policy to help more students attend school on a regular basis,” said Ms. Casey. “Our goal is to have the policy in schools by September 2017.”
The council has several priority areas to report on by April 30, including data collection, assessment and evaluation, attendance policies, timing of administrative days relative to report card preparation and technology and work processes, including PowerSchool and TIENET.
A three-person Commission on Inclusive Education will also be struck within 30 days of the bill being passed to examine the model of inclusion for students.
Copies of the letters can be found at http://novascotia.ca/psc/public-service-sustainability-mandate/
The attendance discussion paper can also be found at https://www.ednet.ns.ca/docs/student-attendance.pdf