Professional Learning Program 
a Long Way from Re-Certification Examinations

The College has helped to convince the government to implement a different program than originally announced. Now our challenge is to maximize the benefits to our members and minimize the financial impact.

In order to be understood, and perhaps more appreciated, political developments need to be considered in perspective. Nowhere is this more important than with the government teacher testing initiative.
In April 1999, the words "teacher testing" entered the lexicon of the Ontario teaching profession. In a pre-election media release, the Premier announced that " all Ontario teachers will be required to participate in a testing program. Teachers will be required to take and pass regular  re-certification examinations."
Fast forward to June 2001. With Bill 80, the government legislates amendments to the Ontario College of Teachers Act mandating the implementation of new professional learning requirements for members of the teaching profession.
Required professional learning in June 2001 a far cry from regular re-certification examinations in April 1999. The events that transpired in the intervening 26 months could fill volumes. Suffice it to say that the shift from its original focus was a direct result of the informed advice that the government received from many people and organizations in education, as well as students, parents, the media and Ontario public at large and, most certainly, from the College of Teachers.

N O    E F F E C T I V E     T E S T

Asked for advice on teacher testing by the Minister of Education in November 1999, the College released an extensively researched consultation paper in February 2000. The paper was dedicated to a search for complete, accurate, and reliable data. It laid the foundation for the advice that was eventually _forwarded to the Minister in April 2000.
The College advised that no jurisdiction had been able to effectively implement written tests that accurately and comprehensively measure professional knowledge and skills of experienced teachers.
Rather, College research demonstrated that the process of educating, training, and certifying members rests with effective quality assurance programs complemented by ongoing professional learning that ensures qualified people remain current with the latest developments in their profession. It is acknowledged that this advice helped redirect the teacher testing focus of the government.
With the required professional learning provisions of Bill 80, has the government gone further than the College advised? Most definitely, yes! However, in perspective, the government has moved considerably from its original plans for re-certification examinations.

T I G H T     T I M E L I N E

Bill 80 was only passed in June and proclaimed in July. The College spoke loudly to the government about the challenge of implementing the initiative in the very short time less than two months required by the legislation. College members will appreciate that, at this writing, there remain more questions than answers.
As Registrar, I commit to you that the College will do everything it can to provide answers to the questions and to develop a meaningful program of professional learning for all members.
Our most immediate challenge is to work diligently to minimize the financial impact that this initiative will have on College members. In this regard, the College is seeking funds from the Ministry of Education to facilitate the development and implementation of the required professional learning. The College budgets approved for 2001 and 2002 include no funding for the implementation and administration of this program.

S E P T E M B E R     S T A R T

For now, what we know is this. All new members of the College and 40,000 randomly selected licensed teachers will begin the new required professional learning five-year cycle in September. All other members of the College will be required to begin the program in September 2002.
All members of the College will be required every five years to successfully complete 14 courses, seven core and seven elective. The seven core areas are defined by the legislation. The criteria for the seven elective areas will be established by a new Professional Learning Committee of the College. Registered providers will be approved to offer courses which meet the criteria.
You can find more details on page 16 of this issue of Professionally Speaking. The College web site will also continue to be updated on a regular basis. Our intent is to keep College members informed at every step along the way.
However the required professional learning program develops, I am confident of this as members of the teaching profession, regardless of legislation, we will continue in our commitment to ongoing professional learning.

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