Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The case for Phasing out Vocational Schools

Successful special education programs are those that draw out the potential that is in every student.

There were once five Vocational schools in Hamilton serving special education students. Presently one remains with about 160 students: a small number of the 9,273 students supported in 2014 by special education services. They were intended for students who had weak math and reading skills and were not really vocational schools -- high schools can provide more exposure to shops and co-operative work experiences.

J Douglas Willms, Professor and Director of the Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy at the University of New Brunswick (2011) argues that students are the most successful when they attend schools of mixed ability and mixed income. He noted that the results of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 30 countries show the more inclusive the system is, the better the students do. Dr. C .Christensen (1996) from the University of Queensland found that segregation assumes falsely that students labelled the same have similar characteristics, and that Instruction based on diagnostic categories is generally not effective. (The vocational schools in Hamilton have been plagued by poor attendance and low graduation rates.)

In the last 30 years Provincial policy has been moving towards full inclusion of all students. In 1980 education of children with extreme difficulties remained a parental or community responsibility. Now they must be provided an education in school. By 1998, Regulation 181 ordered the first consideration for the placement of special education students to be in a regular class with the appropriate supports. The Expert Panel in the 2005 “Education for All” report stated its belief that all students can succeed and started the process of considering special education students through their strengths and not their deficits.  They advocated for universal design---services, resources, teaching methods that are designed for a few and benefit a larger number of students.  “Learning for All” reports have followed. By 2006 81% of all special education students were in regular classes. The influential 2006 “Special Education Transformation” Report placed the focus on: student learning, not on administrative process (such as the labelling of students); accountability for results and not compliance; being proactive rather than reactive; and access to education, not access to special education. 

In 2000 Hamilton- Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) approved, in principle, that the special learning needs of all students, wherever possible, be addressed within the home school. In 2011 HWDSB embarked on the Secondary Program Strategy, a reform of secondary education in Hamilton.  Secondary schools are to focus on all students learning; giving students choice about how they learn (e.g. hands-on learning, on- line learning); providing all pathways in every school to apprenticeships, college, university, work and community living; all schools having specializations such as Secondary High Skills Major programs; and providing integrated student supports. Special Education students now have access to remedial math and English programs in every high school. There are system programs, some designed for the unique personal needs of students and others for those needing extensive or intensive support.

So that all students feel welcome, safe and engaged in school, work should continue on improving the physical design of secondary schools, school climate, and responsiveness to students’ needs.

Vocational Schools should be phased out in Hamilton as they have been in the rest of Ontario. Research and best practice do not support them, and they no longer fit with provincial policy and guidelines for special education, nor HWDSB‘s 2011 inclusionary vision for special education.
 Judith Bishop April 2015

Spectrum of Consulation

Chart published by the Canadian branch of the International Association of Public Participation:

Inline image 1

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Cost Of Poverty to Ontario

Key Facts
Poverty disproportionately affects certain populations, and has a complex mix of institutional and individual causes.

  • Poverty hits Ontarians with disabilities, Ontario’s children, Aboriginal Ontarians,single parents, and new Canadians the hardest. By all measures, the rates of poverty for Ontarians with disabilities, Ontario’s children, Aboriginal Ontarians, single parents and new Canadians are much greater than the provincial average. For example, in 2001, 35.8 per cent of new Canadians lived below the low-income cut-off (LICO), compared to the Canadian average of 15.6 per cent.
  • Poverty has a complex mix of institutional and individual causes. Poverty has no single cause. It results from a mix of institutional impediments including our system of social assistance, skills and credential recognition, and cultural barriers as well as individual gaps such as lower skills, education or literacy.
  • There is a relationship between poverty and poor health outcomes, lower productivity,lower educational attainment, and children’s future income. Analysis of microdata from the National Population Health Survey found that 73 per cent of Canadians with the highest incomes reported their health as excellent, while only 47 per cent of Canadians with the lowest incomes rated their health as high.

Poverty has a price tag for all Ontarians.

  • Poverty has a significant cost for governments. The federal and Ontario government are losing at least $10.4 billion to $13.1 billion a year due to poverty, a loss equal to between 10.8 to 16.6 per cent of the provincial budget.
  • Poverty has a cost for every household in Ontario. In real terms, poverty costs every household in the province from $2,299 to $2,895 every year.
  • Poverty has a very significant total economic cost in Ontario. When both private and public (or social) costs are combined, the total cost of poverty in Ontario is equal to 5.5 to 6.6 per cent of Ontario’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The cost of poverty is reflected in remedial, intergenerational, and opportunity costs.

  • The remedial costs of poverty related to health care and crime are substantial. In Ontario, poverty-induced costs related to health care have an annual public costof $2.9 billion. The national added cost to health care budgets is much greater, at $7.6 billion per year. The poverty-induced costs related to crime in Ontario have a relatively small annual public cost of $0.25 to $0.6 billion, split between federal and provincial governments.
  • The annual cost of child or intergenerational poverty is very high. If child poverty were eliminated, the extra income tax revenues nationally would be between $3.1 billion and $3.8 billion, while for Ontario, the additional (federal and provincial) taxes would amount to $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion. The total economic cost (private and social) of child poverty Ontario is $4.6 to 5.9 billion annually.
  • Opportunity costs or lost productivity due to poverty has a great economic cost.Federal and provincial governments across Canada lose between $8.6 billion and $13 billion in income tax revenue to poverty every year; in the case of Ontario, Ottawa and Queen’s Park lose a combined $4 billion to $6.1 billion.

Reducing poverty with targeted policies and investments over the life course generates an economic return. This return is equal to a proportion of the assessed cost of poverty.

  • Targeted early intervention initiatives focusing on low-income populations have a high rate of return. An analysis of the Pathways to Education project, an early intervention initiative in Regent Park, demonstrated a present value of the social benefit of the program at $50,000 per student.
  • An investment in child care has a significant return for low-income populations. Many studies have shown a very high rate of return for investments in targeted childcare for low-income populations, ranging from $4 to $16 for every dollar invested.
  • A reduction in poverty through increased skills and productivity amongst adults would generate a high rate of return. If 25 per cent of adults moved from the first to second income quintile, this would generate a total social benefit of at least $1 to $1.5 billion in Ontario.
  • The recognition of current credentials alone as a poverty reduction intervention would result in a significant economic return. In 2001, the Conference Board of Canada estimated that eliminating the “learning recognition gap” would give Canadians a total of $4.1 billion to $5.9 billion annually. This learning recognition gap primarily affects new Canadians.

From  The Cost Of Poverty: An Analysis o f the Economic Cost of Poverty in Ontario . Ontario Food Banks. Author Nate Laurie  2008.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Options for Re-engaging Students in School

Re-engagement Strategies

Source is Appendix C.2 2014 Student Achievement Report HWDSB.
Below are some of the suggested approaches that were used in Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board in 2014 to re-engage students and to provide programming to meet their needs:

Communication Strategies
 Calls to home/work/parents/emergency contacts
 Letters to invite students back
 Parent and student meetings
 Home visits conducted when no phone, or emergency information
 “Check-in” appointments to monitor progress and coach students to success
 Communication to teachers regarding supports and strategies for specific students
 Regular check-ins with students and parents/guardians
 Link on school website outlining options to graduate
 Mailing positive notes home

Positive School Connections
 Use of Restorative Justice practices
 Connections to school clubs or teams
 Engaging students in Speak Up Projects

 Collaboration with other educational staff: guidance, VP, LRT, social worker, office staff,
Student Success teachers and mentoring education assistants
 Link to caring adult (touching base/counselling)
 Peer tutor mentoring
 Creation of school based groups to address needs
 Contracts with administration

Community/Other Supports
 Referral to the Social Worker, AY or other community supports
 Consulting with community partners; e.g., Probation, CAS/CCAS
 Financial support through Bursaries, community supports
 Links to community programs/supports eg. Grace Haven, Cornerstone

 Creation of individualized timetables and re-timetabling as required
 Enrolment in in-school/off-site Alternative Education programming
 Enrolment in GLD, GLN, Credit Recovery
 Credit rescue supports
 Enrolment in cooperative education – full day, half day and or paid coop
 Connections to SHSMs; Dual credit; Specialized Pathways
 Creation of opportunities for work experiences in existing programs
 Establishing a Literacy/Numeracy after school program
 Enrolling students in part-time studies to complete required credit material
 Enrolment in e-learning
 Home study
 Career pathways guidance
 Enrolment in system alternative education/student success programming
 Enrolment in continuing education (night school, summer school, eLearning)

4 charts follow:
Options to re- engage early leavers: school

Options to re-engage early leavers: system programs

Options  to re-engage early leavers: alternative programs

Options to re-engage early leavers: continuing education and community programs

Regular Day Classes
·   75 min classes in a variety of subject areas offered by the home school.

·   Lives within school boundaries
·   Under 21 years of age
·   Sem. 1 or 2
·   Work experience/embedded Co-op in a work sector aligned with student interests
·   Can be paid or unpaid coop
·   Setup through school or existing job

·   Senior students preferred
·   Student should have earned some credits prior to enrolling in coop.
·   Sem. 1 or 2
·   Full or half day
·   Courses offered virtually through Desire 2 Learn (D2L) platform in a variety of subject areas

·   Must have access to internet and computers
·   Grades 9-12+
·   Sem. 1 or 2
In-School Alter Ed
·          Credits offered in a small setting as full or as credit recovery courses

·   Must have strong sense  of self-regulation and can work independently.
·   Sem. 1 or 2
In-School SAL
·          Offers flexibility in school timetable where student can be take a minimum of one class every day in school or look at alternative sites to continue schooling outside of school
·          Requires Social Work support
·   Ages 13-18
·   Student cannot attend school for specific circumstances
·   Requires student and parental support
·   Maybe required to attend SAL committee meeting
·   Sem 1 or 2 reviewed at the end of each year
Home Instruction
·          Students continue with day school work load but schooling is from home.
·          Student is attached to day school teachers.
·   Ages 13-18
·   Student cannot attend school for medical reasons
·   Requires a doctor note and SOSA approval
·   Sem. 1 or 2 reviewed every 3 months

Regular OYAP
·   Any Co-op for any amount of credits
·   Any apprentice able area

·   16 yrs. old & 16 credits
·   Students DO NOT have to be signed apprentices
·     Sem. 1 or 2
·   Summer Co-op (July)
·   OYAP accelerated / dual credit opportunities where students earn credits for both high school and college

·   Senior student
·   16 credits

·   Sem. 2 (1 is full)
Ontario Public Service (OPS)
Delta Secondary
·   4 credits (GLD2O+GLN4O+Co-op)
·   Paid Co-op at Ontario Public Service and related agencies
·   Available to students not engaged in school for various reasons
·   Complete 6 to 7 weeks of course material prior to placements
·   All day Co-op 2nd half of the semester

·   Senior student with a committed work ethic
·   Sem. 1 or 2
ArtSmart Musical Theatre Program
·   Earn 2 or 3 credits in musical theatre/theatre & related Tech
·   Earn 1 or 2 credits thru Co-op at Theatre Ancaster
·   Produce full stage musical at end of sem.
·   Earn SHSM Arts & culture designation
·   be 15 years of age or older
·   have successfully completed a minimum of 8 credits
·   submit all required application
·   information by the due date
·   attend an interview session,
·   if requested
·   Sem. 1 or 2
·   Project based learning
·   Students create re-purposed, recycled furniture, artwork, etc.
·   Projects displayed & sold in community
·   Students with mild intellectual difficulties / disabilities
·   Sem. 1 or 2
Building Careers from the Ground Up:
Home Building Program

·   Build a house
·   Residential Construction Co-op placements
·   Earn 2 credits in TCJ4E & upto 4 in Co-op
·   Earn SHSM Construction designation
·   Senior student who is interested in the construction sector
·   Sem. 1 or 2
Lime Ridge Mall Community Co-op Program
·   Continuous intake
·   GLD2O & GLN4O
·   PM Co-op placement

·   Located at Nora Henderson SS
·   Students of varying abilities/academic goals.
·   Sem. 1 or 2
Growing Careers:  Horticulture Program
·   Earn 2 Green Industries (THL) credits
·   Up to 3 additional through co-op
·   Level 1 Horticulture Technician Apprenticeship (Landscape Ontario)
·   Earn SHSM Horticulture & Landscaping designation
·   Located at Saltfleet & Mohawk College
·   Senior students who are interested in the horticulture sector.
·   Sem. 1 or 2
Caring for Our Future:  Healthcare Support Worker Program
·   All day program
·   Earn 2 grade 12 TPJ Healthcare credits
·   Earn 2 credits through Co-op
·   Rotate through 3 blocks of classroom learning & 3 different Co-op placements
·   Earn SHSM Health & Wellness designation
·   Located at Juravinki Hospital site
·   Senior students interested in pursuing health care sector.

·   Sem. 1 or 2
Militia Co-op Program
·   Earn 2 credits for Military training Co-op & additional credits in Phys. Ed & Math
·   Earn SHSM Justice, Community Safety & Emergency Services designation
·   James St. Armoury
·   Students must be at least 16 years of age.
·   For students interested in joining the army.
·   Sem. 2

Turning Point
·   Early leavers who have resurfaced after discovering a unique setting
·   Finish off secondary school credits at Mohawk College
·   Serious about post-secondary opportunities

·   18 yrs or older
·   20 credits or more
·     Sem. 1 or 2
·     Mohawk College

Vincent Massey

·   Disengaged due to demands of regular school setting
·   Need supportive, small class setting away from high activity level of regular school
·   History of behaviour concerns
·   Working close to grade level
·   Locally developed courses can be offered
·   Locally developed courses are at applied level
·   School-to-work is a typical pathway

·   14 to 18 yrs old
·   Credit count is low
·   Low level reading ability not suited for this program
·   Sem. 1 or 2

King William
Dundas Valley
·   Disengaged due to demands of regular school setting
·   Need supportive, small class setting away from high activity level of regular school
·   History of behaviour concerns
·   Working close to grade level
·   Locally developed courses can be offered
·   Locally developed courses are at applied level
·   School-to-work is a typical pathway

·   14 to 18 yrs old
·   Credit count is low
·   Low level reading ability not suited for this program
·   Sem. 1 or 2

James Street
·   Students are capable of working at applied/academic level
·   Lack of engagement at regular school due to social/emotional challenges eg anxiety
·   Students thrive in small, highly structured, highly supportive, unique downtown Hamilton
·   14 to 18 yrs old

·   Sem. 1 or 2
Nu Deal
·   Motivated to re-engage through a Visual Arts based program at Centre 3 on James Street North
·   Behaviour no concern
·   Work at applied/academic level
·   Students in care of CAS have 1st priority to open seats
·   MOE funding based on CAS program
·   14 to 18 yrs old
·   Sem. 1 or 2
·   Centre 3 on James St North
·   History of criminal behaviour
·   Supported by John Howard Society at King William site
·   Section 23 facility/corrections setting/on probation

·   14 to 18 yrs old

·   Sem. 1 or 2
·   Located at KW