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May 20, 2009 - Education/Human Resources Committee Minutes
Education/Human Resources Committee
May 20, 2009

A meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee was held in the Board Room at the Limestone Education Centre, 220 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, on Wednesday, May 20, 2009, at 4:30 p.m.
Present Trustees:
G. Beavis, Chair
H. Brown
H. Chadwick
A. Goodfellow, Ex-Officio
D. Jackson
B. McLaren

Present Staff:
C. Alderon, Principal, Napanee District SS
B. Fraser-Stiff, Superintendent of Education
R. Holmes, Supervising Principal
A. Jacobsen, Principal, Fairfield ES
D. Kirkpatrick, Recording Secretary
A. MacLeod, Curriculum Consultant
N. Marsh, Superintendent of Education
A Potter, Principal, Amherst Island/Bath PS     
Chair Beavis called the meeting to order, welcoming those present to the meeting.  He reported that regrets were received from Superintendent Labrie.

Approval of Agenda                                                                              

Trustee Jackson indicated that he would like to add an item to the agenda regarding the adult education centres, under the Other Business section.

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

Principal and Vice-Principal Mentoring Program

Supervising Principal Holmes introduced Principals Alderson, Jacobsen and Potter, noting that they, as well as himself, are involved in the Principal and Vice-Principal Mentoring Program, which is provided to newly appointed school administrators.

Principal Alderson provided the following information about the program:

•       2007-2008 mentoring pilot project
•       Limestone DSB one of six public boards involved in the pilot project
•       Ministry funded through Ontario Principals’ Council
•       provided to persons who have three years or less experience in an administrative role
•       nine mentors, and 53 mentees
•       training provided for mentors through Ontario Principals’ Council


•       develop a stronger network for administrators
•       develop administrators who are more confident in their role
•       develop mentoring capacity
•       develop a culture of supporting each other

June 2008

•       government approved a province-wide rollout of mentoring for newly appointed school leaders
•       commitment to the development of a comprehensive leadership strategy
        •       Principal and Vice-Principal Performance Appraisal
        •       the Leadership Framework
        •       the Board leadership development plan
•       Principals and Vice-Principals in the first two years in the role will received mentoring
•       nine mentors and 46 mentees

Principal Potter said that being involved in the Principal and Vice-Principal Program has been the single most exciting thing she has done in her career.  She provided the following information:

The Pilot, Beyond and Now

•       Core group of experienced Principal and Vice-Principals trained as mentors
•       Mentees assigned in relatively small groups
•       Mentoring implemented successfully last year
•       This year, three mentors trained as provincial trainees
•       Mentoring continues, 21 selected Principals and Vice-Principals trained as LDSB mentors
•       Highly successful training results in capacity to continue mentoring and training mentors
•       Sustainability now the target

Principal Jacobsen provided the following information:

•       Mentoring: an experienced leader involved in an evolving learning relationship focused on meeting mentee goals and objectives
•       Coaching: a set of skills and principles supporting structured conversations, designed to facilitate positive changes through a relationship of ongoing support and challenge

•       The Goal: to help people build competence and confidence by building their capacity through formal mentor/coach relationships
•       Another, deliberately imbedded, support system that becomes part of the LDSB’s culture

Craig Alderson provided the following analogy, noting that such is the essence of mentoring:

A tree planted in a cleaning of an old forest will grow more successfully than one planted in an open field ... This literally enables the stronger trees to share resources with the weaker so the whole forest becomes healthier.

Anne Potter indicated that research says:

•       That the Principal is the most influential factor linked to student achievement next to the classroom teacher.
•       It is vital that Principals and Vice-Principals are supported during their early years in the role to facilitate their own growth and confidence, through well rounded, positive leadership.

Anne Jacobsen provided the following information:

•       Critical that this process be implemented in a non-evaluative context.
•       The techniques used in this method draw from the strengths of the mentee.
•       Our new leaders are resourceful, creative and expert in their field.  We use their strengths to find solutions to problems that, at first, seemed insurmountable.
•       We don’t give answers, we structure or conversations so that answers come from within.

Mr. Alderson stated that during our training, we practiced the techniques we use with other experienced Principals, noting that the results were amazing and that mentoring/coaching works. Ms. Potter spoke to the Adobe Method.  Ms. Jacobsen spoke to professional development and other programs, and Mr. Alderson spoke to Leadership Value.

Ms. Potter reviewed the following challenges:

•       Sustaining this useful tool
•       Building in time
•       A priority!
•       Keeping trainers in place

Mr. Alderson reviewed the following solutions, noting that mentor coaching is a prudent investment in the future:

•       Group mentoring
•       Partnerships with Ontario Principals’ Council
•       Retire and part-time administrators
•       Principal and Vice-Principal Professional Development

Mr. Alderson said that essentially, mentor/coaching is questioning skillfully to help solve problems and to get at answers/solutions.  Questions are inherently related to action; they are at the heart of an organization’s capacity to mobilize the resources required to create a positive future.

Mr. Alderson said that everybody is benefitting because of this training, and that he is honoured to be part of this program.  He thanked the people involved in the Board.

Mr. Holmes said that it is nice to see the Ministry aligning.  We started out mentoring teachers, and now we are mentoring administrators.  He said that this program has been a wonderful experience.  He advised that the following elementary administrators are involved: Pattie Shultz, Tammy Giles, Peter Mouncey, Anne Jacobsen and Anne Potter, and that the following secondary administrators are involved: Caroline Worthy, Beth Woodley, Craig Alderson.  He indicated that he was also involved in this program.

Chair Beavis thanked Ms. Jacobsen, Ms. Potter, Mr. Potter and Supervising Principal Holmes for providing the above-noted information.

Ms. Jacobsen, Ms. Potter and Mr. Alderson withdrew from the meeting.

Secondary Assessment and Evaluation

Superintendent Marsh called on Alistar MacLeod, Curriculum Consultant, to come forward, introducing him.  She said that she and Mr. MacLeod are present to speak to assessment and evaluation at the secondary level.

Superintendent Marsh said that one year ago, they talked about assessment, and Mr. MacLeod was acknowledged for his fine work.  She said that they presented at the Education/Human Resources Committee after a draft was completed, and they received lots of feedback.  She said that the document was released in September, and now we want to engage parents in secondary assessment.  She said that it is coincidental that it has been prominent in the media recently.

Mr. MacLeod said that he has been involved in the professional learning plan, and his involvement started in 2007-2008 which he was a classroom teacher.  He said that when he came to work at the Limestone Education Centre, he led the second learning team.

Mr. MacLeod said that the subject of assessment and evaluation in Ontario schools has been featured in the media.  He commented on the Assessment Evaluation in the Media newsletter from the Limestone District School Board, noting that the document responds to some of the questions that have surface so that parents and community members can feel assured that the Board’s policies are clearly aimed at supporting increased levels of achievement for all students.

Superintendent Marsh referred to a memorandum from Deputy Minister of Education Ben Levin in response to media commentary around student assessment policies in our secondary schools.  She reported that the memorandum talks about the mission we need to have as educators to ensure the message is out there.   She said that it is important that we support teachers to ensure we are articulating, not lowering, standards.

Superintendent Marsh and Mr. MacLeod presented the following information:

Moving away from norm-referenced assessment:

•       class average and medians
•       student grades determined relative to other students
•       LDSB subject award given to highest student averages

Moving towards criterion-referenced assessment:

•       goal to get all students to provincial standard
•       students evaluated against clear criteria
•       any student who meets the standard is recognized

Moving away from focus on teaching:

•       identical instruction for all students
•       no time to adjust when students struggle
•       focus on content of subject

Moving towards focus on learning:

•       instruction is differentiated to learners’ needs
•       instruction is adapted based on formative feedback
•       focus on development of transferrable skills

Moving away from combining behaviour and achievement:

•       late penalties and zeros
•       bonus marks for effort
•       marks for being organized

Moving towards reporting separately on behaviour and achievement:

•       academic grade based on overall curriculum expectations
•       learning skills grades
•       behavioural response to inappropriate behaviour

Moving away from feedback through marks:

•       checkmark and x
•       low marks discourage struggling learners
•       next steps are unclear

Moving towards descriptive feedback:

•       feedback relates directly to learning goal
•       next steps are clearly described
•       feedback also guides teacher’s next steps for instruction

Moving away from mostly pencil and paper tests:

•       difficult to make authentic
•       little connection to different learning styles

Moving towards a variety of authentic assessment:

•       writing, saying, doing
•       elements of choice of variety

Moving away from assessment to measure learning and moving towards assessment to promote learning.  Moving towards improvement in student learning and success for all.

Mr. MacLeod and Superintendent Marsh provided information about the Professional Learning Plan.  Mr. MacLeod advised that on June 3, 2009, information will be presented to parents related to secondary assessment and evaluation.

In response to comments from Trustee Chadwick, Mr. MacLeod stated that when he was a classroom teacher he found as he changed his teacher practices on assessment and evaluation, there was a change for all students, those who were achieving at high levels and those who were struggling.  He said that the change has a greater impact on struggling students, commenting that it is important to provide support to them, and that is done through the Student Success initiative.  

Superintendent Marsh said that a support document was created for schools to give to parents. She said that she realizes there needs to be a shift in parent thinking as well.  She said that Differentiated Instruction not only focuses on struggling students; it is a real opportunity for all students.

Chair Beavis thanked Mr. MacLeod and Superintendent Marsh for providing the above-noted information.

Superintendent Marsh stated that Mr. MacLeod is a wonderful facilitator for teachers, and thanked his for his dedication.

Other Business

Adult Education Centres

In response to a question from Trustee Jackson regarding the adult education centres, Superintendent Marsh stated that all teacher allocation in the adult centres comes from the number of students that centre produces and it is part of staffing.  She said that the staffing process is done centrally.  She said that the adult education centres are under the responsibility of the highschool in their area, providing the example that Streetsmart is under KCVI, the Education Centre in Amherstview is under Ernestown Secondary School, etc.

Next Meeting Date

The next meeting of the Education/Human Resources Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, September 16, 2009, at 4:30 p.m.

MOVED BY Trustee McLaren, that the meeting adjourn at 6:05 p.m.–Carried