Nova Scotia

Drake University upgrades for Nova Scotia teachers given more clarity

Nova Scotia Education Minister Karen Casey says more teachers will get credit for DVD courses they've already started offered through Drake University, provided they can finish their education through an accredited institution.

Program, from Iowa-based Drake University, came under scrutiny last year, after a CBC investigation

Education Minister Karen Casey said courses from Iowa-based Drake University will no longer be accepted, even for the hundreds of teachers who already have the department's approval to take them. (CBC)

Nova Scotia Education Minister Karen Casey says more teachers will get credit for DVD courses they've already started offered through Drake University, provided they can finish their education through an accredited institution.

The program, from Iowa-based Drake University, came under scrutiny last year, after a CBC Nova Scotia investigation showed a growing number of teachers taking the courses — many of which were coaching courses. A program of 30 credit hours allowed them to apply for a license upgrade and pay raise of between $6,000 and $8,000.

Earlier this year, Casey admitted the courses lack rigour and have questionable value in the classroom.

The government has since banned the program for licence upgrading purposes, including for those who have been pre-approved but have not yet started their courses. However, teachers who have already started their courses at Drake will get credit for them.  

"We heard from 250 teachers who were already in the midst of the program so we wanted to make sure that we honour the courses that they were enrolled in and had completed," Casey said.

That means those teachers will now have to supplement the Drake courses, by enrolling at an accredited post-secondary institution, to complete the requirements for a licence upgrade. 

Casey says the Drake courses are not recognized by any universities in Nova Scotia. 

"But what we did do is reach out to those universities and say teachers who have some of those courses as part of their integrated [program] may be coming to you to pick up other courses to complete their 30 credit hours. Just to let them know, as a courtesy, and to encourage them to work with teachers to put together an integrated program that will meet the 30 credit hour requirement."

Casey says she can't say how many of the teachers already enrolled are taking coaching courses, but says it is a significant number. 

Casey says the experience with the Drake courses has illustrated the need for a tighter approval process.

Traditionally, a committee made up of the teachers' union, post secondary institutions and the education department review courses. Now, Casey says the minister will be involved. 

In a written statement, the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, Shelley Morse, said the union is reviewing the government's decision and "we will be continuing our discussions with the minister on this issue."

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