Friday, July 21, 2017

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When comparing Education for All (2005) and Growing Success (2010), I decided to focus on 4 key areas of the document: core principles, instruction, assessment, and professional judgement. The comparison of the two documents show the influence of the expert panel’s 2005 report, Education for All, on the 2010 Growing Success document. The Ministry of Education has put more emphasis and focus into creating alignment in supporting documents like these, as well as revised curriculum documents, which now have very similar “front matter” detailing the Ministry’s focus and fundamental beliefs.

Core principles:

In Education for All, the focus is clearly on ensuring effective supports for all students while recognizing the need for special education supports; as Belief 1 outlines, “All students can succeed”. Belief 5 recognizes that “Each child has his or her own unique patterns of learning” while Belief 7 states: “Fairness is not sameness” (4-5). These principles are echoed in Growing Success, which outlines that teaching practices and procedures should be “fair, transparent, and equitable for all students”; as well as “support all students, including those with special education needs, those who are learning the language of instruction (English or French), and those who are First Nation, M├ętis, or Inuit” (6). The two documents clearly promote the idea that the “Ontario government is committed to enabling all students to reach their potential, and to succeed” (Growing Success, 1). I’d argue that this fundamental belief of success for all students underlies every policy from the Ontario Ministry of Education.


Education for All explicitly promotes universal design and differentiated instruction as seen through Belief 2: “Universal design and differentiated instruction are effective and interconnected means of meeting the learning or productivity needs of any group of students”. Additionally, Belief 3 focuses on instruction: “Successful instructional practices are founded on evidence-based research, tempered by experience”. We can see the same ideas echoed in Growing Success as teachers are expected to use practices and procedures that “are carefully planned to relate to the curriculum expectations and learning goals and, as much as possible, to the interests, learning styles and preferences, needs, and experiences of all students” (6). Teachers are to plan - using the principles of UDL and DI - for the success of all students by tailoring instruction to meet the needs of students.


When it comes to assessment, according to Growing Success, teachers are to use practices and procedures that “are ongoing, varied in nature, and administered over a period of time to provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate the full range of their learning” as well as “provide ongoing descriptive feedback that is clear, specific, meaningful, and timely to support improved learning and achievement” (6). These statements are clearly influenced by Education for All, as seen in the process diagram on page 20. Moreover, both documents clearly outline the notions of assessment for, of, and as learning (page 22-23 of Education for All and page 28 of Growing Success). Each of the documents clearly define important concepts for teachers (such as diagnostic, formative, and summative assessments); Growing Success provides a clarified version of these definitions within a chart on page 41 which provide links between the rationale, the research, and the practice. Both Education for All and Growing Success discuss the triangulation of assessment data: “evidence of student achievement for evaluation is collected over time from three different sources – observations, conversations, and student products” (GS 39). Education for All focuses on observations and conversations, providing more specific strategies as well as the rationale: “the teacher uses observation to maintain an awareness of the uniqueness that individual students bring to the classroom environment and to specific learning tasks. A good observation process allows the student to demonstrate capabilities within an inviting and engaging learning environment.” (Education for All 24). Growing Success pushes this idea further through learning goal, success criteria, descriptive feedback, and metacognitive awareness (33-34). Again, fundamentally, what’s necessary for some, is good for all.

Professional Judgement:

Both documents highlight the importance of the teacher in developing a learning plan for students: In Education for All, Belief 4 clearly states, “Classroom teachers are the key educators for a student’s literacy and numeracy development. The expert report provides recommendations about how to support professional learning in order to support student learning. Growing Success acts as a policy document to outline assessment and evaluation policies and procedures based on research and best practice. At the same time, Growing Success recognizes that teachers not only triangulate data through observations, conversations, and student products, but that other considerations (such as the richness of the task or a student’s needs) are to be made as well, constituting something now known as a teacher’s “professional judgement”. The document defines this as, “Judgement that is informed by professional knowledge of curriculum expectations, context, evidence of learning, methods of instruction and assessment, and the criteria and standards that indicate success in student learning. In professional practice, judgement involves a purposeful and systematic thinking process that evolves in terms of accuracy and insight with ongoing reflection and self-correction (GS 152). Ultimately, as Growing Success clearly states, “The professional judgement of the teacher, acting within the policies and guidelines established by the ministry and board, is critical in determining the strategy that will most benefit student learning” (GS 46). As such, classroom teachers need to stay current on ministry, board, and school policies, procedures, and pedagogies.

While the Expert Panel Report, Education for All, was written in 2005, it is clear to see the influence of this document in the current policies and procedures across Ontario as expressed in 2010’s Growing Success.

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