P.E.I.'s minister of education is defending his decision to increase the number professional development days for teachers at the expense of instructional days against the concerns of the P.E.I. Home and School Federation.
In a statement on its web site, the federation acknowledges the research that demonstrates more PD days lead to better outcomes for students, but outlines two issues with the province's approach.
- No days are being added to the school year, so more PD days means less instructional time for students.
- There was no broad-based consultation with parents on the change.
Under the province's plan, three to five PD days would be added to the 2014-15 school year. That could mean delaying the start of school until the second week of September, to allow teachers more PD time before classes begin.
The federation "questions whether fewer instructional days will translate into better education for students and requests the department monitor and report on the impact of these changes, both positive and negative, on a yearly basis," the statement reads.
In a report last year the P.E.I. Education Governance Commission recommended increasing the number of PD days, but not at the expense of instructional time for students.
Education Minister Alan MacIsaac told CBC News Tuesday morning he will work to convince everyone involved that the plan is a good one.
"We're going to work with our [P.E.I. Teachers' Federation] and all our partners, the parents, to explain to them over the next year exactly how this will help our students in the school system," said MacIsaac.
"A couple of more days for teachers to become well aware of the curriculum, how to deliver it, how to collaborate with their partners and other teachers I think is going to be very worthwhile."
The federation also says it's "dismayed" that discussions around the changes have been held "in secret," and says there should be broad-based consultation with parents on the changes.
The federation had two members on the province's school calendar committee, but they were told not to discuss the changes with federation members. The federation said it was sympathetic to a desire to contain discussions, but it believes better decisions come through openness.