NOTE: This release was sent on behalf of consultant Dr. Avis Glaze.
An internationally recognized expert says the province’s education administrative model needs to be refocused and realigned to ensure student learning and achievement come first.
“Everyone I met with in the system is trying to do his or her best,” said consultant Dr. Avis Glaze. “They all have enormous commitment and dedication, but the system is not working the way it should for students, parents, teachers, and principals.
“In many cases, Nova Scotia students are performing below average compared to the rest of the country and the lack of clarity and coherence in the system is contributing to that.”
Dr. Glaze’s report is titled Raise the Bar: A Coherent and Responsive Education Administrative System for Nova Scotia.
The review is the first in more than 20 years to look at how public schools are administered, including elected school boards and their central office administration, along with administration at the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD).
Last October and November, Dr. Glaze met with more than 500 stakeholders during 91 consultations across the province. Another 1,500 people responded to an online survey on the issues.
The report says right now the administrative system can seem like nine disconnected bodies: the department and eight individual school boards, often with conflicting priorities, and unclear roles and responsibilities. That has led to a model that distracts from achievement and learning for the province’s 118,000 students.
“The administrative system should be realigned to reflect a unified, coordinated, provincewide focus on students to help them reach their full potential, regardless of where they live or their personal circumstances,” said Dr. Glaze. “And any savings that are realized from this plan must be directed to the classrooms.”
Some of the recommendations include:
–eliminate the seven governing regional school boards to reduce conflicting priorities and foster a coordinated provincial approach to challenges in the system. The seven regional administrative boards retain their boundaries and names, and operate as regional education offices. Non-core administrative roles should be reviewed as part of a shared services model to reduce administrative costs and create a more nimble, unified system. Examples might include: IT, payroll, facilities, finance, freedom of information and protection of privacy and access to information and privacy operations, and human resources
–superintendents should become regional executive directors of education. They would be responsible and accountable for student success, education programming and policies in their schools. They will report directly to the deputy minister of EECD and oversee the regional education offices
–maintain the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial (CSAP) board structure, with the superintendent responsible to both the deputy minister and CSAP board. CSAP should control cultural and linguistic matters, while also following provincial curriculum guidelines
–ensure a local voice with the creation of vibrant school advisory councils (SACs) in all communities with greater influence and ongoing input to the minister, drawing on parents, students, principals, and community members
–ensure the voice of Mi’kmaq and African Nova Scotians is heard at the ministerial level. The Council on Mi’kmaq Education (CME) and Council on African Canadian Education (CACE) should have enhanced roles, providing policy counsel to the minister
–move teaching support specialists (literacy leads, math mentors, etc.) out of board offices and into classrooms four days a week, with the fifth day dedicated to assessment of progress, collaborative planning and preparation for the next week
–take assessment responsibility away from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and establish an independent Student Progress Assessment Office (SPAO) to develop high-quality student assessments and report directly to the public
–establish an education ombudsperson — an independent officer to investigate and resolve concerns or complaints on administrative decisions and practices that affect education
–create a provincial college of educators, an independent body to license, govern, discipline and regulate the teaching profession, and to improve public confidence in the education system
–remove principals and vice-principals from the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) and into a new professional association. Seniority, pension, and benefits should not be impacted and there should be an option for those administrators who may wish to return to teaching and the union.
“Nova Scotians are doing innovative work in schools, but the conflicts, burdens and inefficiencies in the system itself are getting in the way of teachers, principals, and students,” said Dr. Glaze.
She has extensive experience in system and school improvement, having worked with educators in close to 50 jurisdictions around the world. Currently, she is one of the international advisers helping to reform education in Scotland.
She served as Ontario’s education commissioner and senior adviser to the minister of education. She was the province’s first chief student achievement officer and founding CEO of the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat. She was awarded the Order of Ontario, as well as many international awards, for her contributions to education.
The full report can be found here: www.ednet.ns.ca/adminreview.