Royal Bay secondary teacher Paul Waterlander is concerned that students with special learning needs may be falling through the cracks in the province’s new software system.
The old program that teachers and staff in the Sooke School District used to input and track a student’s individual education plan (IEP) is not compatible with the new MyEducation BC student information system. Waterlander said teachers are going without access to whether a student has special learning needs or requires extra assistance because all of that information has to be manually entered into the new system and that task has not been completed.
“It hurts our vulnerable students the most,” said Waterlander, who has been teaching for 26 years. “I don’t know what it is they need.”
Like many other teachers, he has to rely on students to speak up until that information is entered. But he warns many students won’t ask for that help; meanwhile, their parents or guardians believe students are getting help because it’s outlined in their IEP.
Graham Arts, SD62 district principal for information technology, said the district is responsible for funding that data entry, even though the new software system is provincially mandated. The student support services department will be working through the summer with the goal of having everything in place by the fall, he added.
“There are plans to make that happen,” Arts said. “We’re behind schedule on it and that’s simply because of the volume of work that needs to be done.”
In defence of the Ministry of Education, Arts noted that districts across the province track IEPs differently and it would not have been realistic to make all of those systems compatible with MyEducation BC.
But IEPs are not the only area the district didn’t receive funding to help with in the transition to the MyEducation BC system.
“There’s issues around how the government implemented this,” Waterlander said. “I’m not blaming the district. This is not a district issue.” He noted SD62 didn’t receive funding from the Ministry to train teachers on how to use the new software, which he said is quite challenging for many to use. “It’s not intuitive (and) it’s not user friendly,” he added.
Waterlander wants to see more done as teachers continue to struggle with the software more than a year later.
Arts confirmed the district did not receive Ministry funding for the training, but has on its own done a number of things to help teachers with the transition.
“We brought in a new position to act as our direct connection for teachers that need help,” he said. “I don’t think you can ever have too much training.”
See the first article in this two part series to find out why teachers continue to give MyEducation BC software a failing grade.