Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Karen Casey announced the first steps toward supporting teacher excellence as part of the Nova Scotia Action Plan for Education today, March 3.
“We want teachers to achieve the highest standards of teaching excellence,” said Ms. Casey.
“To improve student performance in provincial, national and international assessments, teachers need access to programs, professional development and continuing service education that will have a direct impact on improving student achievement.”
A key action in Pillar Four of the action plan, Excellence in Teaching and Leadership, is new teaching standards in Nova Scotia. Teacher education and professional development will be based on these standards. The standards will be complete in 2015-16.
While this work is underway, the department will not approve any new education programs put forward by universities until new teaching standards are established.
“We also want to ensure that funds dedicated to professional development and teacher certification upgrading are directed toward programming that best meets the needs of Nova Scotia students,” said Ms. Casey.
After a review by the department in February 2014, it was determined that video correspondence courses from Drake University lacked rigor, provided little to no contact with instructors, were purchased from a third-party vendor, and are not eligible for transfer credit by faculties of education at any university in Nova Scotia. At that time, the department stopped granting pre-approvals for the program.
In April 2014, the department announced the program would no longer be pre-approved to be used to obtain an increase in teacher certification and letters went to the Nova Scotia Teachers Union in May to inform them of the changes.
The feedback from 19,000 Nova Scotians who responded to the Minister’s Panel on Education highlighted the importance of teachers being engaged in quality professional development that will benefit students. The actions contained in Pillar Four of the Nova Scotia Action Plan were developed as a response.
Effective today, the department will no longer grant an increase in teacher certification to teachers who take video correspondence courses from Drake University, including teachers pre-approved to take the course.
Letters are being sent to the teachers who were pre-approved for the program to inform them of the change. Teachers registered for any Drake video correspondence course are asked to contact the department’s Office of Teacher Certification before March 27, to provide an update on where they are in their course of study.
“Most of our teachers engage in rigorous professional development that improves their own practice and is designed and delivered in the best interest of students,” said Ms. Casey.