Drake University classes banned as upgrade for N.S. teachers
Nova Scotia government changes rules for teachers after CBC investigation
A CBC investigation has led the provincial government to change the rules around upgrading courses for teachers.
Teachers will no longer be allowed to increase their classification — and their salaries — through DVD courses offered by Iowa-based Drake University.
Earlier this year, CBC found that a total of 41 Nova Scotia teachers had their certification upgraded after completing Drake courses in the last three years.
There is no interaction at all with any faculty during the whole DVD- Karen Casey, education minister
Information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act shows two-thirds of them took coaching courses. In all, 505 teachers were pre-approved to take the courses.
Education Minister Karen Casey said the offerings are not rigorous enough.
"There is no interaction at all with any faculty during the whole DVD," she said. "We recognize that some of the content is probably good professional development but it doesn't match what we believe is good intensive professional development upgrading for teachers."
As a former teacher, Casey said she knows the value of professional development.
"But I also recognize that in order to get the benefit of that, you have to interact with some faculty. You have to have dialogue. You have to have discussion. It's more than just a sit and get kind of program. And so that was lacking in this particular course."
While noting that many teachers opted to take coaching courses from Drake, Casey said there are local alternatives.
"We have a couple of universities in our province that provide a masters degree in physical education. So it's not like teachers are being denied an opportunity to take courses on coaching."
Casey says her decision follows a review by staff launched on February 19.
Teachers who applied after that date for upgrading through Drake will be denied. Those already approved can still go ahead.
"In all fairness to those teachers who have been approved, what we've said is any teacher who has been approved and who is in the program will be allowed to follow through and if they complete it successfully, then it will be considered as an upgrade."
Casey said the department will take a closer look at any new video courses that are proposed for upgrading.
"There will be a more close scrutiny on what comes in and what is offered and what is approved. There is no question, this has brought this to our attention. It's something that has been going on for a couple of years with that particular DVD and that particular university. So yes, it has heightened our awareness and yes the scrutiny will be greater."