Education Policy and Practice 

The Siren Song of “Evidence-Based” Instruction.

“At best, then, there are important questions to ask about evidence that’s cited in favor of a given proposal, particularly when it’s intended to justify a one-size-fits-all teaching strategy. At worst, the term evidence-based is used not to invite questions but to discourage them, much as a religious person might seek to end all discussion by declaring that something is “God’s will.” Too often, the invocation of “science” to defend traditionalist education reflects an agenda based more on faith than on evidence.” Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn is a highly respected author and lecturer on education issues, parenting and human behaviour.  He advocates for progressive education policy and practice, and has long been a respected critic of standardized testing and the “one-size fits all” approach to teaching. 

Forget school rankings. Canadian universities need cooperatives. 

“The good news is that innovative higher educational models that emphasize equity and inclusion thrive. The key lies in reimagining the role of universities.

Instead of adhering to a corporate model based on individual achievement, we need to shift towards co-operative governance that fosters collaborative approaches to teaching and research, and grapples with the crises we collectively face.”  Michelle Stack and Caroline Shenaz Hossein

Michelle Stack is an associate professor in the department of educational studies at UBC and an IPE/BC Fellow.  Her research currently focuses on the democratic decision-making opportunities in cooperative universities and colleges, as well as the way in which cooperative approaches can support food, job and housing security for students and staff. 

Caroline Shenaz Hossein is an associate professor of global development and political economy and a Canadian Research Chair at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She founded the Diverse Solidarity Economies Collective. 

Changing values cited as one reason for PISA decline 

“In the higher-performing systems, “learning systems are being built on a different understanding of capacity to learn,” meaning that given well-targeted support and sufficient time, every student is capable of eventually achieving success.

This has significant implications for the ­evaluation of learning, which will require a shift away from ­measuring what students know to measuring what they can do with what they know.” Geoff Johnson (Published in the Times Colonist, March 3, 2024.)

Geoff Johnson’s career in public education included serving as a teacher, principal, director of instruction and superintendent of schools. He has a regular column in the Times Colonist and is a consultant, writer and speaker on education issues. 


Why BC has ended letter grades for younger students 

The scale operates from a strengths-based perspective that views all students as coming to school with inherent skills. Classroom learning seeks to build upon this.

Proficiency scale assessment regards learning as ongoing, whereas the letter grade and percentages system viewed learning as an event with a definite end.

Dr. Victor Brar is an adjunct professor in the Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia. His research interests focus on the intersection of academia and K-12 classrooms. This article was published in The Conversation on August 2, 2023.

Music unites us: a teacher educator and teacher candidate comparative ethnographic narrative inquiry  into the benefits of music education

“Music inspires and uplifts us. Music education is essential to our health and wellbeing. The fine arts should not be relegated to the sidelines of curriculum, teaching, and learning but should be front and centre.

In sum, this research investigated music education through the lens of students, a teacher candidate, and a teacher educator to provide evidence of the many benefits of music education and the importance of music education for all, for music unites us.”                  Dr. Edward Howe

Dr. Edward Howe is Professor and Chair, School of Education, Faculty of Education and Social Work, Thompson Rivers University. His research focuses on comparative and international education, teacher induction, self study and narrative inquiry.  Dr. Howe is an IPE/BC Fellow.

Pause PISA international standardized student testing — it’s been two years of pandemic schooling stress

Along with 30,000 others across Canada, in the coming weeks thousands of BC students are being recruited to participate in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This three-hour series of tests, sponsored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) claims to assess the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students in mathematics, reading, and science. While the subject of much debate by scholars, very little is understood about the ways that students and their parents/guardians are informed about and invited to participate in PISA. We raise some questions about PISA and why ministries of education across the country have decided to add this unnecessary burden on already overwhelmed students and school-communities.”  J-C Couture

J-C Couture is an adjunct colleague and instructor at the Faculty of Education, University of Alberta, and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. He previously coordinated the research program for the Alberta Teachers’ Association and served as a Research Fellow for Manchester Metropolitan University.  He is currently involved in a number of projects including developing graduate courses related to school leadership, curriculum renewal, and assessment. J-C co-authored this article with David Rutkowski, associate professor in Educational Policy and Educational Inquiry at Indiana University. 

Teacher Acculturation

Stories of Pathways to Teaching

“Teacher Acculturation provides a window into the world of novice teachers from the 1950s through present day. The thought-provoking stories provide a springboard for critical discussions about gender/sexuality, culture/race/ethnicity, Indigenous perspectives, SES/class/religion, location/space/time, and the challenges facing teachers in different contexts.”  Excerpt from publisher’s comments on Teacher  Acculturation by  Dr. Edward Howe

Dr. Edward Howe is Professor and Chair, School of Education, Faculty of Education and Social Work, Thompson Rivers University. His research focuses on comparative and international education, teacher induction, self study and narrative inquiry.  Dr. Howe is an IPE/BC Fellow.

BC Retired Teachers’ Association Advocates to Protect Class Size and Composition

“How can teachers understand and serve the needs of each and every child without healthy class sizes and student composition standards in schools?  From our experience, retired educators recognize it as the balancing point for all our hopes for effective teaching and learning.”

The BC Retired Teachers’ Association strongly supports active teachers in their need to maintain workable class sizes with proper support for the needs of students.”  Gerry Tiede

Gerry Tiede is the Past-President of the BC Retired Teachers’ Association and the President of Association Canadienne des enseignantes et des enseignants retraités – Canadian Association of Retired Teachers (ACER-CART).  Prior to his retirement, Gerry was a school principal in the Surrey School District and was active in leadership in the BC Principals and Vice-Principals’ Association.  He holds a degree in Psychology and a Masters in Education Administration. 

Read more about the work of the BCRTA here. 

Class Size and Teacher Work

“We strongly believe that research should inform practice (and indeed, practice and research should flow together in a symbiotic relationship to protect and professionalize teaching). The research on class size is powerful and shows that for improving teaching and learning conditions in the classroom, smaller is better. But can research determine if “class size” is a working condition?” Dr. Daniel Laitsch, Dr. Christine Ho Younghusband

Dr. Daniel Laitsch is the Chairperson of the Institute for Public Education’s Board of Directors. He is a founding director for the Centre for Study of Educational Leadership, Associate Professor at SFU and Director of the SFU Surrey Campus Liaison, Faculty of Education. His research interests include examining the use of research by teachers, application of research to inform policy and practice and policy analysis.

Dr. Christine Ho Younghusband is Assistant Professor at UNBC School of Education and an Affiliate Scholar at Centre for the Study of Educational Leadership and Policy at SFU. She holds a PhD in Educational Leadership from SFU and a M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction. She has extensive experience in the field of education having been a secondary math teacher, a trustee on the Board of Education for SD46, and a member of the BC School Trustees’ Association Board of Directors.

What if We Truly Put Teachers in Control of Educating?

Crawford Killian reviews a new book by Pasi Sahlberg and Timothy Walker, In Teachers We Trust: The Finnish Way to World-Class Schools, W.W.Norton(2021).

“I’ve been watching Finnish education for years, and had the privilege of getting to know Tim Walker and to sit in on one of his classes: This is not his first book on the subject; he’s also written Teach Like Finland He and his colleague Pasi Sahlberg make a persuasive case that we shouldn’t try to imitate the Finnish system, but we can apply many of its principles and techniques right now in our own classrooms—and get great results.”    Crawford Killian

Crawford Killian is a writer-editor for The Tyee. Previously, he was a professor at VCC and Capilano University and the public education columnist for the Vancouver Province. He has published extensively on a wide range of topics, including education, science, the environment, and politics.