Access for immigrant teachers

The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities has allocated almost $1.9 million to an intiative that will help internationally trained teachers (ITTs) qualify to teach in Ontario.

The project is an initiative of the Teachers' Leadership Council - a coalition including the College, the Ontario Teachers' Federation, school boards, faculties of education and several non-profit agencies.

The program will assist ITTs advance toward licensing and ensure their successful integration into publicly funded schools.

Consultation centres - hosted in Toronto by the College and Skills for Change and in Ottawa by LASI (Local Agencies Serving Immigrants) World Skills - will provide support in both English and French for up to 2,000 ITTs in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and 200 in Ottawa.

A bilingual web site developed by the College will provide online resources for ITTs, immigration officers abroad and Ontario groups that advise immigrants.

Skills for Change will lead the development and delivery of a sector-specific terminology, information and counselling program for 230 participants (160 in the GTA, 70 in Ottawa) who are seeking certification in high-demand subjects or areas.

The Ontario Teachers' Federation (OTF) will help develop information and workplace orientation materials and facilitate networking opportunities.

"This program gives new hope to newcomers, su-pport for school boards hiring teachers and assurances to students and parents regarding Ontario's high standards for teaching," says College Registrar Doug Wilson.

The 18-month pilot project provides for the training of staff and the development of curriculum and resource materials, including a language-assessment instrument, based on Canadian Language Benchmarks, for an occupation-specific language course and a course to prepare ITT applicants to write the Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test.

The Teachers' Leadership Council, which submitted the proposal for this project last August, includes the Toronto Training Board and community agencies in Toronto and Ottawa as well as education professionals and stakeholders.

Literacy lawsuit

A group of parents and students launched a lawsuit in January against the Ontario government in an attempt to halt what it calls the "high stakes consequences" of the Grade 10 literacy test.

Since 2001, all Grade 10 students have been required to take the test. If they don't pass it they may take it again until they do. However, those who do not pass it cannot graduate from high school.

The group of parents and students had demanded that the provincial government suspend the test (or allow students to graduate without passing it) by January 15, 2004 or the lawsuit would go ahead.

David Baker, a lawyer representing seven families, said that about 27,000 students are at risk of not graduating from high school in 2004 because they have not yet passed the test.

Baker speculated that students who didn't graduate because of the test would be "condemned to … lives of poverty, lives of frustration and possibly lives of crime."

He and his clients have heard from many more families who have the same concerns, he said.
The group has filed for an injunction that Baker hopes will be in effect by April so that students who have finished their high school education will not be prevented from applying to postsecondary institutions.

According to a Ministry of Education spokesperson, approximately 88 per cent of students who took the test in 2001, the year it was introduced, eventually passed it.

For more on responses of the education system to the Grade 10 literacy test see Leanne Miller's article, Ensuring Literacy in an Age of Scrutiny, in the December 2003 issue of Professionally Speaking.

Alberta reports

Alberta's Commission on Learning released its final report with almost 100 recommendations in October.

Recommendations address children's readiness to learn, student diversity, curriculum, school systems and classrooms, governance, accountability, technology, preparing teachers and school leaders.

The full report is available on line at

BC establishes standards for teachers

The British Columbia College of Teachers has established new standards for teachers. The standards for education, competence and professional conduct are intended to honour and advance the profession by highlighting the complex and varied nature of educators' work.

Ten standards related to education and competence articulate the knowledge and skills that professional educators must possess. They define how professional educators value and care for children, demonstrate an understanding of the role of parents, are knowledgeable about Canada, implement effective teaching practices and engage in lifelong learning.

Four standards related to professional conduct describe responsibilities to learners, parents, the public, the profession and the BC College of Teachers.

According to the BC College, these standards must accurately reflect what professionals need to know and are able to do. They must also provide guidelines for educators as they assess and reflect on their practice, engage in continuing professional development and assist others to do the same.

You can view the BC College of Teachers' standards at

Ohio measures

A group of Ohio organizations, including colleges that train teachers and the state's department of education, is launching a study that will try to identify what makes a good teacher.

The Ohio Partnership for Accountability is conducting a five-year study of teachers and the English and math scores of their students. The study will compare the teaching techniques of 25,000 recent graduates and experienced teachers to those currently being taught in teacher education programs.

The aim is to determine what works in producing good teachers and what does not.
The study will use a formula developed by University of Tennessee professor William Sanders that assesses schools and teachers in terms of improved test scores of their students.

The project will cost $10 million and it is expected that results will provide the basis for teacher-education reform in many US jurisdictions.