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November 19, 2008 - Education/Human Resources Committee Minutes
Education/Human Resources Committee
November 19, 2008
A meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee was held in the Board Room on Wednesday, November 19, 2008, at 4:30 p.m.                   
Present Trustees:
H. Brown, Chair
A. Goodfellow, Ex-Officio
G. Beavis
H. Chadwick
E. Crawford
D. Jackson
B. McLaren
P. Murray

L. French
Present Staff:
R. Holmes, Supervising Principal, Human Resources
A. Labrie, Superintendent of Human Resources
N. Marsh, Superintendent of Education
S. McWilliams, Manager, Human Resources
P. Warren-Chaplin, Superintendent of Education
B. Woodley, Supervising Principal and Executive Assistant
D. Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
Chair Brown called the meeting to order, welcoming those present to the meeting.  Trustees and staff introduced themselves.

Approval of Agenda                                                                              

MOVED BY Trustee Goodfellow, that the agenda, as distributed, be approved.–Carried

Parent Delegation – Choices at 7

Chair Brown welcomed Nancy Mucklow, representative of the parent delegation.  

Chair Brown indicated that there will not be any decision today, advising that there is a review process underway that deals with these programs.  She stated that the Board always welcomes input.

Ms. Mucklow thanked the Committee for the opportunity to speak about parent concerns with regard to the Choices at 7 programs.

Ms. Mucklow reviewed the following information in her presentation from her perspective:

Current Selection Process

•       Anyone can apply.
•       Students must perform an audition (LEAP) or presentation (Challenge) in front of the program teachers.
•       Program teachers observe the students in activities to assess group work and social skills.
•       Program teachers do the selecting.
•       Admission is based on “points” from homeroom teacher evaluation, report card marks, audition, and observations.

Concerns Raised in 2006

•       Process reviewed by a parent who is an auditor
•       Altering of “points” in favour of certain students
•       Favouring of non-board applicants over Board applicants
•       Significant unintentional discrimination (gender, socio-economic status, disability)
•       Appropriateness of face-to-face decisions?
•       Appropriateness of “competition” to decide who gets programming?

Problems with Face-to-Face Selection Processes

•       Subjective
•       Influenced by personal preferences and biases
•       Influenced by knowing the applicants’ names/families
•       Unaccountable (secret)
•       Unconventional
•       Devastating to the students who are rejected
•       Will never be regarded as fair or objective by the public
•       It turns access to education into a game
•       It favours students with advantages (e.g. socio-economic status, gender)
•       It invites strategy and manipulation
•       It bases admissions on competition-related skills, rather than on academic ability or need
•       It allocates high-cost programming to successful and advantaged students who are alrady doing well in the regular program.

What Parents Are Saying

•       Boys should not bother applying to LEAP because they won’t get in.
•       Siblings of students already in the program get in first.
•       Children of teachers get into the program first.
•       The teachers are choosing students based on behaviour.
•       The teachers are doing whatever they need to – including “fixing” the game – to keep “unsuitable” students out of the program.
•       Many parents perceive that the selections are arbitrary.

The parent included her understanding of the following programs:

Challenge-Type Programs
What Do Other Boards Do?

•       Continuous intake starting anytime after Grade 2.
•       Teacher or parent refers a bored or troubling student for formal IQ screening. A team assesses the results.
•       Students above 98th percentile are offered a place in a gifted school or an alternate placement.
•       Gifted classes are largely composed of diverse high-IQ students with poor social skills, difficulties with boredom and frustration, learning disorders, developmental disorders, conduct disorders, etc.  These students flourish in the new setting.

Kawartha-Pine Ridge

•       Board-wide formal screening in Grade 4.
•       Students above 98th percentile are offered a place in a gifted program.  Students doing well in the regular classroom are encouraged to remain there, with extra programming.  Priority is students who are not coping with the regular classroom.
•       Students above 95th percentile are re-tested with WISC in case their results have been affected by LD, ADHD, ASD, etc.
•       Special program runs in one school for each county.  Students are bussed.

Thames Valley

•       Board-wide screening in Grade 4 (OLSAT, WJ-III, WISC).
•       Students above a set cut-off are re-tested. Those above 98th percentile are offered a place in the program.
•       Students are encouraged to remain in the regular classroom if it is working well for them.  Special enrichment pull-out programs are provided for them, in addition to daily enrichment.
•       Program runs Grade 5-8, one school, geographically in the centre of the board’s region.  Students are bussed.


•       Gifted program runs Grade 5-8, although there is an early program for Grades 1-4.
•       Acceptances are based on formal testing (CCAT and WISC IV) plus assessment by the Central Gifted Committee.
•       Cut-off is 98th percentile.
•       Students are bussed.

LEAP-Type Programs

Elementary Arts Programs

PEARSON (London)                                                        LEAP (Kingston)
Grade 4-8                                                                       Grade 7-8
Any student can apply                                           Any student can apply
No audition (to prevent socio-economic status bias)     Audition required (a key part of the assessment)
Admissions based on a two-day workshop run by   Admission based on audition, group work skills,
an independent assessment team                          and observation by program teachers
Ratio is 1/3 boys and 1/3 girls (1/3 either)                    Program is 90-95% girls

Ms. Mucklow reviewed the differences among a High Achiever, Gifted Learner and Creative Thinker.  She said that gifted learners and creative thinkers are not the same as high achievers.

Ms. Mucklow reviewed the following information:

•       Students at the 98th percentile have an IQ >130 and are relatively common (approximately 1 out of 60 students).
•       Student with IQ>160 are rare.  But there are more out there than was previously thought.  These students are very vulnerable because they have no peers.
                                                 (Hollingworth Center for Highly Gifted Children, 2008
                                                                                            de la Jara 2006)

•       In Ontario, gifted students comprise the 5th largest group of high school dropouts – half that of learning disabled students (the largest dropout group).
                                                                                    (Ministry of Education:
                                                                                      Early School Leavers:
            Understanding the Lived Reality of Student Disengagement from Secondary School, 2005)

•       Many gifted and talented children are misdiagnosed as having ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Mood Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder.

•       These common misdiagnoses stem from ignorance about the social and emotion characteristics of gifted children, which are assumed to be signs of pathology.
                                 (Webb et al, 2004: Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of Gifted Children)

•       In a study of 55 children with IQ>160, 11 were found to have Asperger Syndrome (20% of the total).

•       Of these 11 Asperger children, five of them had IQ>200.
                                                        (Gifted Resource Center of New England, 2006)
•       Artistically gifted children seldom show talent as children, the way that musically talented children do.  Instead, they show:
        •       wild imagination
        •       original thought
        •       nonconformity to groups
        •       rushes of ideas they can’t deal with fast enough
        •       stubbornness
        •       extreme individualism
        •       not following directions if they have a better idea
        •       frustration
                                                (Foeken, 2005: Identifying Artistically Gifted Children)

•       Every “gift” has a corresponding weakness:
        •       Strong concentration skills – Tunnel vision and obsessions
        •       Learns fast – Sloppiness and impatience
        •       Creativity – Daydreaming and disruptive behaviour
        •       Independent thinking skills – Nonconformity to groups
                                         (Renegar 2008: Dispelling Some Myths about Gifted Children)

Ms. Mucklow asked that the following sentences be completed:

1.      The students accepted into LEAP and Challenge (need? deserve?) the extra funding involved in this program because ...

2.      Selection is based on social skills, report care marks, and auditions instead of formal, objective criteria because ...

3.      Selection is done by the program teachers because ...

Ms. Mucklow reviewed the following recommendations that she had developed:

1.      Develop mandates for these programs that justify the expenditure.

2.      Require objective, fair, and accountable admission processes, in line with what other boards are using and in line with the mandate.

3.      Request that the program teachers not be involved in the selection process.

4.      Some people favour expanding the programs to admit any student that wants to attend.

Trustee Jackson thanked Ms. Mucklow for her presentation.  He said that he recognizes that there will be a number of issues that will not be resolved this evening, and understands that the Director will be making a report sometime in the new year.  He suggested that a report or update on this matter be provided at the January 2009 Education/Human Resources Committee meeting.  

In response to a question from Trustee Jackson regarding program costs, Superintendent Warren-Chaplin stated that they are primarily for material and resources.  She said that the class size is reflective of the regular class size.

Trustee Jackson stated that the programs are seen as urban programs, and asked if the Board could roll the programs out to a broader group of students.

Chair Brown stated that the Challenge program is available at Odessa and Loughborough Public Schools as well.  Superintendent Warren-Chaplin reported that although not located in the northern area of the board: students from the north attend the program offered at Loughborough Public School.

Trustee Chadwick asked if the parent delegation had spoken to any parents whose children have been successful in getting into the program.  She also asked Ms. Mucklow twice if she was able to clarify for the Committee the number of parents from whom she had received responses.

Ms. Mucklow indicated that she had received a call one half-hour before the meeting, but did not explain how many parents had given her responses.

Ms. Mucklow stated that the children who get into the program are high achievers, and that they will do well because they are high achievers.  She commented that gifted learners and creative thinkers have more difficulty in getting into the program.  She said that it is her impression that there is confusion about the selection procedure.

In response to a question from Trustee McLaren, Ms. Mucklow stated that in the 2006-2007 school year, it was her personal feeling that there were not a lot of boys who applied to LEAP because they felt it was a program for girls.  She said that London gets around that situation because there are strict quotas as to the number of boys and girls selected for the program.

MOVED BY Trustee Jackson, that the presentation information be referred to the Director of Education for review and comment as part of the Director’s report on the LEAP and Challenge Programs.–Carried
Chair Brown thanked Ms. Mucklow for her presentation, and indicated that it will be considered in the context of the review.  She said that the Board is always looking for input to improve on any of its programs.  She said that the Committee appreciated Ms. Mucklow and the delegation coming to this afternoon’s meeting.

Trustee French withdrew from the meeting.

“Growth for Every Student” Document

Superintendent Warren-Chaplin stated that the “Growth for Every Student” document is a new document that have been provided for all of the Board’s schools.  She reported that the document was developed by a collaborative team of teachers from across the district.  The document was developed with teachers for teachers.

Superintendent Warren-Chaplin stated that the document focuses on Assessment, Reporting, Planning and Timetabling.  She said that the draft document was provided to every school so teachers have access to the resource this year.

Superintendent Warren-Chaplin stated that the document was shared with all Principals at the Elementary Principals’ Meeting and all Vice-Principals will receive copies of the document as well.  She advised that the Superintendents will be accepting suggestions from teachers regarding refinement of the document, and additional information which would be helpful as well.  She said that hopefully the document will come out next Fall as a more detailed offering.

In response to comments from Trustee Chadwick wherein she indicated that she has received feedback that comments on report cards sometimes tend to be ambiguous or difficult to comprehend. Trustee Chadwick asked if more detailed information on how the comments work could be shared. Chair Brown stated that perhaps that could be a future agenda item.

Chair Brown thanked Superintendent Warren-Chaplin for providing information about the “Growth for Every Student” document.

New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP)

Superintendent Warren-Chaplin stated that the New Teacher Induction Program Steering Committee of which Chair Brown is part, met on October 24, 2008.  She said that the role of the Steering Committee was discussed, and the goals and objectives of the Steering Committee were reviewed.  She said that the goals were shared, noting they are to continue the school level orientation, continue to build capacity in the Mentor Pilot, and continue to improve communications with stakeholders.

Superintendent Warren-Chaplin provided an elementary update, noting that 48 new teachers, and two long-term occasional teachers took part in the New Teacher Induction Program.  She said that a Board level orientation and school level orientation took place in August 2008.  In October 2008, there was a one-day professional development event that focused around classroom management and assessment strategies.  She reported that in November 2008, there was a half day that focused on reporting and conferencing.  Superintendent Warren-Chaplin indicated that there will be a half day of professional development with a guest speaker, Gretchen Courtney, about strategies to assist with planning and organizing in the area of literacy.

Superintendent Warren-Chaplin reported that a NTIP Resource Handbook for Principals, “Supporting Student Success for All through Exemplary School Leadership” has been developed and a NTIP Resource Binder for Elementary is being developed.

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the following information relating to secondary:

•       18 new teachers in so far
•       two full days of professional learning with new teachers, one day with mentor to create quality time together talking about teacher issues

•       September 30 – Introduction to NTIP

        Topics included:
•       Assessment and evaluation
•       Classroom Management
•       Teacher as professional

•       Second Day
        Topics included:
•       communicating with parents
•       instructional planning
•       professional learning needs (NTIP candidates, mentors and mentor facilitators)
•       assessment and evaluation

Superintendent Marsh stated that the NTIP Resource Binder was creating by teachers for teachers.  She said that the documents were shared with new teachers, their mentors, Principals and Vice-Principals.

Superintendent Marsh indicated that the following resources are available for new teachers:

•       Mentor-Facilitator Resource Binder
•       Additional literature supports
•       Large group, sharing professional development (with mentors and mentor facilitators)
•       Explicit modelling of strategies and tools that support effective teacher practice
•       An opportunity was provided for constituent parties to provide updates.  They included:
        •       Queen’s – teacher candidates could talk more about their experiences which involves there practicuum at the LDSB
        •       OSSTF very involved in NTIP and attended NTIP days
        •       ETFO not able to attend
        •       Mentor representatives both from elementary and secondary panels
        •       administration – some Vice-Principals and Principals talked about an administrator’s perspective on it.

Superintendent Marsh stated that we are looking forward to a terrific year with our new teachers.

Chair Brown stated that the New Teacher Induction Program Steering Committee is a great committee and amazing support is given to new teachers.  As well, they receive resources and support from Senior Staff and people in schools.  She said that Allison Doyle, a teacher at LaSalle Secondary School, was very pleased to see a Trustee on the committee so she would thanked Trustees for the science equipment received at LaSalle.

Trustees Beavis and Jackson requested that information received at the meeting be forwarded electronically to Trustees prior to the meeting so that they can review it.

Aboriginal Education Proposals

Superintendent Marsh distributed copies of the “Standing Proud” flyer, that was done in consultation with the Aboriginal communities, and in collaboration with the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board and Limestone District School Board.

Superintendent Marsh reviewed the projects as follows:

Project One:    ALOY Junior: Partnership with Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year offered by Royal Military College

Project Two:    Partnership of two Boards with Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre – Creation, Purchase and Distribution of Interactive Literacy Kits, with Aboriginal Content, for Emergent Readers and their Parents/Guardians

Project Three:  Provide speakers (Elders, Aboriginal Leaders, Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre staff (as a bank for schools to draw upon as guest speakers/presenters/workshop leaders in selected classes

Project Four:   Monthly Story-Telling Circles in Primary Classes, by Aboriginal Coordinator, with Culminating Activity in June 2009, for Primary plus additional classes selected by school – Strawberry Moon Festival

Project Five:   Celebrating Aboriginal Culture and Traditions in North Frontenac Schools (with significant number of Aboriginal students) in a Play Day format

Project Six:    Elder Nokomis Jane Chartrand School Visits and Workshop Presentations

Project Seven:  Guest Aboriginal Artists/Dancers/Poets/Authors/Musicians

Project Eight:  Attendance by various elementary schools, and secondary students in Native Studies classes, at Annual Youth Pow Wow, hosted by the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre, at Lake Ontario Park

Superintendent Marsh stated that the projects are intended to promote Aboriginal education in our district and encourage great pride in Aboriginal cultures.

In response to a question, Superintendent Marsh stated that Aboriginal voluntary, confidential self-identification will be promoted in February with the course selection process in secondary schools.  She said that the self identification information will be embedded in that information.  In elementary schools, the self-identification information will be embedded in the Trillium update in September.  It will also be in all registration forms.

Superintendent Marsh stated that Madeliene Tarasick was responsible for coordinating the Aboriginal Education program and Helen Peterson and the internal Educational Advisory Committee helped to orchestrate the information for Principals, as well as a teacher symposium in the Spring.

In response to comments by Trustee Jackson, Superintendent Marsh stated that the Aboriginal Education Office offers further support around language learning.  She said that it is not easy for us to find someone who speaks the language fluently.  However, we are pursuing this matter with the Native Centres.  She stated that she will pursue this matter through the Aboriginal Education Office, noting that it takes time to create programs that are sustainable.

In response to a question regarding educational assistant support, Superintendent Marsh stated that the Board does not assign specific educational assistants to specific students for economical reasons.  When working through the Aboriginal Education initiative, we want to make sure it is sustainable.  She said that there is some funding for teacher education.  She said that the Board is working through Student Success to support the needs of students.  She said that the Board has exhausted its self-identification fund.  She said that we have reserved some of the lump sum funding we received for building teacher capacity around Aboriginal Education.

Superintendent Marsh stated that educational assistants come from various college diploma programs, such as Child and Youth Worker.  Superintendent Warren-Chaplin reported that for those educational assistants who work with high needs special education children, training is provided by Educational Services.  Where a child is medically fragile, Educational Services also provides training ongoing throughout the year for educational assistants.

Superintendent Marsh recognized Superintendent Warren-Chaplin who orchestrated the Aboriginal Education initiative.

Other Business

Chair Brown thanked all members of the Committee for the support they have given to her this past year, and she thanked staff for their support as well.  She said that staff have been wonderful in presenting updated program information to the Committee.

Chair Brown stated that we will be sorry to see Superintendent Warren-Chaplin leave at the end of December, wishing her the very best in her retirement.  She said that she has been tremendous in her role as Superintendent.  

Chair Brown extended appreciation to the Committee members for their input for agenda items.

Next Meeting Date

The next meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, January 21, 2009, at 4:30 p.m.


MOVED BY Trustee Crawford, that the meeting adjourn at 5:40 p.m.–Carried