Late last week the Ontario-based People for Education released their latest national COVID tracker.
Pan-Canadian scan reveals large gaps in education recovery and renewal plans
People for Education calls for federal task force, Education Recovery Fund
For immediate release
TORONTO (February 4, 2022) – People for Education has conducted a pan-Canadian scan of K to 12 COVID-related education policies. The scan reveals a glaring reality; while all provinces and territories have detailed safety strategies for schools, few have articulated a vision or guidelines to manage, assess, or respond to the educational impact of COVID-19, and none have allocated the substantial funding true recovery and renewal will require.
As a result, People for Education is recommending that the federal government establish a establish a Federal Advisory Table on Public Education as recommended by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation and extend funding to provinces, territories, and First Nations with a multi-billion dollar, multi-year Education Recovery Fund to support planning, evidence-gathering, assessments, increased numbers of staff, and vital resources.
Few plans for responding to COVID-19 impact
The scan reveals that only four out of the thirteen provinces and territories have developed comprehensive documents that provide both guidelines and goals to support students and staff as they deal with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic:
- Quebec’s Revitalization Plan for Educational Success outlines key principles and areas for intervention, as well as a plan to support research to evaluate how students have been affected by the pandemic.
- Guidelines in Nunavut’s Learning to Be Together Again framework includes a vision for “recovery learning”; guidance about effective assessment that recognizes the impact of the pandemic; and practical tools to help education staff respond to students’ and families’ social-emotional needs.
- The Yukon K to 12 Recovery Plan includes strategies for individual educators and schools to evaluate the impact of the pandemic, including monitoring attendance patterns, giving students a platform to provide feedback through surveys, and conducting ongoing reading assessments.
- British Columbia’s K-12 Education Recovery Plan has direction for local boards and schools to “develop processes for identifying and addressing pandemic impacts on student learning and well-being.” British Columbia also regularly consults with its provincial K to 12 Education Steering Committee.
However, none of the plans includes provincial- or territorial-wide reporting, data-collection, or tracking of evaluations. In addition, it is not clear whether any of the plans and policies are backed up by adequate resources, staff, and/or time for implementation.
While some provinces and territories recommend that individual boards, schools, and staff develop processes for assessing pandemic impacts on things like students’ literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional development, none have put in place a plan for either aggregating the data from boards, schools, and classrooms or assessing the impact of the pandemic on student learning and mental health at an overall jurisdictional level.
Across the country, some individual school boards are tracking impacts on indictors such as students’ reading skills and high school report cards, and Ontario requires school boards to collect some data on online learning. Preliminary research In Quebec is using report card information to measure pandemic impacts, but again, there does not appear to be any overall provincial strategy for assessment and evaluation.
Provinces and territories may look to standardized tests to provide some data in the future, but many have been cancelled or postponed over the course of the last two years, and the tests will provide only narrow information.
Recommendations for next steps
Schools across Canada have overcome many challenges over the last two years – “pivoting” as required. However, without comprehensive plans to collect data and measure the impact of COVID-19, it will be difficult to develop effective, evidence-based, and adequately resourced recovery and renewal plans.
People for Education has the following recommendations to support recovery and renewal:
- The federal government should:
- establish a Federal Advisory Table on Public Education as recommended by the Canadian Teachers’ Federation.
- expand its current funding to provinces, territories, and First Nations with a multi-billion-dollar, multi-year Education Recovery Fund to support planning, evidence-gathering, assessments, increased numbers of staff, and vital resources.
- Provinces and territories, working collaboratively with school boards and education stakeholders, should
- develop comprehensive recovery and renewal plans supported by data collection, sample-based evaluations of student progress, student surveys, and well-being assessments
- ensure recovery and renewal plans include specific, measurable goals for addressing the inequities, structural barriers, and systemic racism exposed and amplified by the pandemic and that continue to prevent equal access to all students.
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Previous versions have included:
- April 24, 2020
- April 30, 2020
- May 6, 2020
- June 12, 2020
- July 7, 2020
- August 10, 2020
- August 30, 2020
- September 20, 2020
- October 9, 2020
- November 30, 2020
- January 25, 2021
- March 8, 2021