No change in instructional days for Prince Edward Island schoolchildren in 2014-15

School calendar for next year includes more PD days without affecting days in class

Ryan Ross rross@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on March 4, 2014
Imelda Arsenault, senior director of learning and early childhood education with the Department of Education, explains the new school calendar for the 2014-2015 school year during its launch at Spring Park School Tuesday.
Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

Any Island students who were hoping for less time in school next year are out of luck as the province plans to keep the number of teaching days the same as in 2013-2014.

That comes despite teachers getting more professional development days thanks to the addition of two days to the school year.

Education Minister Alan McIsaac presented the new school calendar for 2014-2015 Tuesday and said it took a lot of work to add professional development days while ensuring the number of teaching days wasn't reduced.

"That was key and we succeeded this year," he said.

Classes start Sept. 3 and run until June 26, 2015, although teachers will be working slightly longer than that with a few days on either end to start and finish the year.

In total, there will be 197 days on the school calendar, of which 181 will be teaching days.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE 2014-15 SCHOOL CALENDAR

The calendar was developed with input from the Education Department, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation (PEITF), the province's two school boards and the two provincial home and school federations.

The extra days in the calendar give teachers the opportunity for more professional development time including five PEITF days and five other professional learning days.

That's up from seven professional development days in 2013-2014.

There will be three days with no classes for parent teacher interviews, including two in the second semester that will also be used for professional development.

Next year's calendar will also reduce the number of school weeks that have fewer than four days.

McIsaac said work will soon be underway on the calendar for the next three years.

"That's important because we have to use every day to the most advantage that we can," he said.

As part of the professional development, there will be an increased focus on job-embedded professional learning, which connects what is happening in the classroom and what the teachers' professional development.

Elizabeth Costa, the Education Department's director of instructional development, said job-embedded professional learning deals with ways to apply what is learned directly into the classroom.

"It's a cycle of improvement that allows for continuous improvement in student learning and teachers teaching," she said.

Although teachers have undergone job-embedded professional learning in past years, Costa said substitute teachers usually filled in for them while it was underway, which will change next year.

"We know in that type of professional learning it can't be a one-day thing," she said.

For Pam Montgomery, the P.E.I. Home and School Federation's president, she said her organization had a lot of input in the calendar and expressing parents' input on maintaining the amount of instructional time.

"I think we've been very successful in doing that," she said.

PEITF president Gilles Arsenault said when it comes to professional learning, the important thing for teachers is to have meaningful development.

"I think teachers will welcome some of these changes," he said.

As for how many professional development and classroom days there are in the calendar, Arsenault said he thought things were heading in the right direction in embracing the new job-embedded learning model.

"If the supports are in place and we have what we need I think that we can make it work," he said.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

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