Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia to introduce teacher standards in education reform

The province is looking to set standards for teachers as it moves into the second year of its five-year overhaul of the education system.

The province is moving into the second year of its five-year education system overhaul

Education Minister Karen Casey says she doesn't believe educators will not be nervous about impending teacher standards. (CBC)

The province is looking to set standards for teachers as it moves into the second year of its five-year overhaul of the education system.

Education Minister Karen Casey said Thursday that teachers have been working with the department to start the standard-setting process.

"We're looking at what standard do we expect a teacher to be meeting when they are in front of a class of kids?" Casey said. "Right now there are no teaching standards established. We believe there needs to be.

"That's why we have teachers coming in to look at … what is it that [they] believe they need to be able to do and to be measured by. Because once we have a set of standards then it's part of their performance appraisal [and] they will be measured against those standards."

The province has also been looking at standards in jurisdictions such as Singapore, Australia, Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario.

"I don't think we will have a lot of teachers that are nervous," said Casey, when asked if she thought there would be resistance to the move.

Union 'not adverse' to standards

Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Shelley Morse confirmed in a statement to CBC that the union has discussed the standards with the province.  

"The NSTU has had input into the initial development of the teaching standards framework and the intention is to continue with this involvement," Morse said. 

"We are not [averse] to the development of standards that describe sound pedagogical practices. The caution is how these standards may impact teacher evaluation and appraisal."

The plan to establish teaching standards comes as the province's 9,000 teachers are working without a contract. In December, teachers rejected a four-year deal that included two years of wage freezes.

The province has already rolled out a series of changes to the education system, including capping class sizes for Grade 4 at 25 students, following similar caps for lower grades.

Casey also said the reading recovery program has been reinstated to target Grade 1 students. It provides one-on-one help for students, some of whom reach Grade 2 unable to read. 

She said the program aims to address literacy problems identified by teachers who find that Grade 6, 7 and 8 students are still struggling to read.

About the Author

Elizabeth Chiu is a reporter in Nova Scotia and hosts Atlantic Tonight on Saturdays at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. in Newfoundland. If you have a story idea for her, contact her at elizabeth.chiu@cbc.ca.

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