By Cole Parkinson
Horizon School Division has put forward a handful of updates to policies in relation to previously passed provincial documents.
During the board’s regular meeting on April 18, they were informed of four new policies, all of which have been updated from previous incarnations.
“Most people are aware that the previous government has rolled out a review of the teaching quality standard. They have not only had a review or change of that standard but they have also updated the leadership quality standard which used to be called the principal practice guideline. That was in 2009, whereas teaching was 1997 and they updated both of those. They are now called teaching quality standard and leadership quality standard. They have also developed a new document for the superintendent called the superintendent leadership quality standard. Those have all passed through the government and have an implementation date of September 1, 2019,” explained Wilco Tymensen, superintendent of schools. “As part of that review, they have also been reviewing and updating the Alberta policy professional growth, supervision and evaluation. The government has updated that policy as well, though it has not been formally approved and gone through the full process.”
While a change of government has happened in Alberta, the division is expecting things need to be passed before the original deadline put in place.
“These documents are coming to the board today because, technically, we need to have things in place by September 1 when those three standards officially take place. Now, we have a new government and I don’t necessarily know what the implications are on this transition in government. Technically, those three have already gone but you never know what a new government could do,” continued Tymensen. “It allows them to go through public consultation and really my intent would be to bring them back in August for second and final reading. At that point, we would know if the government is changing course and you would be able to provide approval at that point.”
The first document is Policy GCM — Professional Growth Planning, which states ‘The board of trustees of Horizon School Division expects that all staff be competent, current, accountable, and involved in ongoing professional growth designed to improve the employee’s practice.’
“It talks about professional growth and historically, the board would have had a policy for professional growth for teachers and a policy for support staff that is different. This policy combines all of that into one policy and has been updated to reflect the direction it is going,” said Tymensen.
Vice-chair Bruce Francis questioned the wording in the document pertaining to journeymen, who are listed as professional employees along with principals, teachers and family liaison councillors.
“It was almost like we added it on to try to include them. There is no meat and potatoes behind it as far as the policy is considered,” said Francis. “It’s an excellent policy for the others, principals and teachers.”
Tymensen stated he would take a look at tweaking the policy in that regard moving forward.
The board unanimously passed first reading of Policy GCM.
Policy GCMA — Staff Supervision was next, which states ‘The board of trustees of Horizon School Division No. 67 believes that supervision shall be conducted on an ongoing basis for all employees to ensure that their competence and conduct are in the best educational interests of students, support optimum learning and that duties are carried out in respect to requirements under the School Act, provincial legislation, regulations, professional standards, board policy, collective agreements, contracts, and job descriptions.’
With all four of the policies in front of the board being related in some way, Tymensen highlighted what Policy GCMA brought forward.
“Similar to my comments previously, professional growth, supervision and evaluation is one government policy. Historically we would have had a few policies around supervision. It ties it all back together into one policy and provides clarity on our expectations.”
Policy GCMA first reading was unanimously passed by the board.
Policy GCN — Teacher Summative Evaluation states ‘The board of trustees of Horizon School Division believes that summative evaluation is a judgmental process designed to facilitate decisions about the competence of an employee. This policy operates under the assumption that an evaluation process may be initiated to generate the data for making well-informed and fair employment and/or certification decisions.’
“The biggest difference in this document is the updating of the language in regard to the actual competencies. Previously language would not have used competencies, it would have used descriptors and key indicators. Some of that terminology has changed. The previous one talked a lot about planning, classroom management, instruction, assessment and contextual variables. The new one has categories and descriptors under there,” said Tymensen. “There has been a whole bunch of other categories that have been added. Inclusion, First Nations, relationships, societal context, those are all built in.”
The last policy on the docket for the board was Policy GCNN — Principal Evaluation.
The policy states ‘The board of trustees of Horizon School Division believes that summative evaluation is a judgmental process designed to facilitate decisions about the competence of an employee. This policy operates under the assumption that an evaluation process may be initiated to generate the data for making well-informed and fair employment decisions.’
Much like the previous policy, Policy GCNN follows much of the same changes.
“It is the new standard and updated categories. The categories actually scaffold with the teaching categories. So comments around inclusion around First Nation, Metis and Inuit, philosophy and foundation of knowledge. For the most part, the process of the evaluation has not changed, just some minor tweaks here and there,” said Tymensen.