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Q & A: What’s this about new professional practice standards?

November 21, 2017 Gordon Thomas, ATA Executive Secretary

Question: I see that the School Act will be amended. Are there implications for me?

Answer: There certainly are implications for our members. The amendments modernize the legislation and resolve some questions that have evolved over time. Provisions include revising the legislation relating to the establishment of separate school districts, modernizing the sections on bus transportation and education service agreements, requiring a trustee code of conduct, establishing a common age for school entrance and updating language relating to the Board of Reference.

The most significant impact for members is amendments to the School Act and the Teaching Profession Act to establish new certification structures and new professional practice standards. The Alberta teaching certificate will continue to be a requirement to serve as a teacher in Alberta. To serve as a principal, a teacher must also possess a school leadership certificate. An education program will be established and successful completion will be required to be a principal. A superintendent of schools (including the chief deputy superintendent, if there is one named by the board) will require a superintendent leadership certificate in addition to a teaching certificate. An education program will be established for the superintendent leadership certificate and successful completion will be required to become a superintendent of schools.

At the present time, the Alberta Teachers’ Association establishes and polices professional conduct standards for all of its active members and polices the Teaching Quality Standard — the professional practice standard for classroom teachers. The Teaching Profession Act is being amended to require the Association to monitor professional practice standards for those members who possess a leadership certificate. We anticipate that this responsibility will require the Association to police the professional practice of all members who hold a leadership certificate, including principals and central office teachers. To do so, the Association will need to amend the Practice Review Bylaws, which can be done by Provincial Executive Council, with approval by the minister of education.

We anticipate that the three new practice standards will be released shortly. We have worked closely with the minister in their development. The new Teaching Quality Standard will be an updated edition of the current standard. The Leadership Quality Standard, which will be applicable to school principals and central office teachers, will establish professional practice standards for leadership related to these roles, and the Superintendent Leadership Quality Standard will be applicable to the superintendent of schools and the chief deputy superintendent, and will establish professional practice standards related to system leadership and governance.

The Association has also been involved in the development of education programs for the new standards. There is much work ahead on program development and implementation, and there will be grandfathering provisions, with implementation expected Sept. 1, 2019.

While these developments are a major step forward for our profession, the Association continues to believe that the profession itself, not the minister, should be able to establish standards and to police them for all members of the profession. We believe that all certificate holders should be members of the Association, in a unified profession, with the profession responsible for setting and policing professional conduct and professional practice standards for all certificate holders. ❚

Questions for consideration in this column are welcome. Please address them to Gordon Thomas at Barnett House (

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