Evaluation of LINC Home Study: CIC Response
- 1 Recommendations and Responses from the LINC Home Study Evaluation
Recommendations and Responses from the LINC Home Study Evaluation
CIC needs to consider an expansion of the LINC Home Study Program. Extending the program to Toronto would be a good first step: it seems hard to defend exclusion on the basis of city of residence. The option could also be extended to other communities in Ontario. For remote communities, however, the main problem with access is getting an initial assessment since there are no assessment centres nearby. Expansion of the Home Study program in this case would depend on the development of an online
Halton-Peel continues to be over-represented in LINC Home Study, accounting for nearly 45% of learners. Better marketing is necessary with assessors outside of the region. The program should work to ensure that learners across the province have equal access to the program.
Some expansion is happening already with the addition of 200 students to the existing 443 (100 students are being added at LINC Levels 6&7, and another 100 -- at lower levels).
Expansion to Toronto
A. CIC has approved the expansion of the Home Study program in Toronto. The expansion will be gradual in an effort to reduce waiting lists, and more funding will be put towards the program if warranted by the length of the waiting lists.
B. A call for proposals will be issued for a survey of student interest in this program, targeting those who are able to attend regular LINC programs, but who may want to study on their own by enrolling in Home study (e.g. newcomers who have demanding jobs and little time to attend regular classes; newcomers who are underemployed, but who need to have a higher level of language in order to be hired for positions commensurate with their qualifications)
C. The Assessment centers will do the referral and marketing for the Home Study program.
Expansion to remote rural areas
Marketing needs to be done in those areas. On-line assessments or neighbouring assessment centers will be used in the marketing process.
Teacher - student communications
CIC/CET should consider expansion of the weekly phone conversation with learners.
The phone call is the students’ favourite part of the course, and its expansion was the primary recommendation made by students. New technology enabling conversation over the Internet may help make conversation more efficient in the longer term for online users.
A. The teacher - student ratio will be discussed, if phone conversation time is to increase.
B. CIC will ensure that English Conversation Circles are used as part of the program.
If the number of seats funded by CIC increases, CET will have to devise a marketing plan to inform potential new clients about the program. As part of this effort CET should inform assessors about the key findings of this evaluation – in particular, that Home Study is not less effective than LINC classroom courses at teaching the four skill areas. The marketing effort should go beyond presentations to assessors and pamphlets. Less than 40% of current learners found out about the program from assessment centres or flyers. School boards, colleges and community agencies are important sources for informing students about the program.
- Marketing of Home Study may become part of the strategy to promote settlement services through the media.
- Marketing will be improved outside the Halton-Peel area.
- CET flyers are being sent to assessment centers.
Program administrators and/or assessors should be more diligent when it comes to enforcing eligibility restrictions. They should ensure that newcomers cannot attend a regular class and that they are landed immigrants or refugees. Assessors and Home Study staff should ask about citizenship status when determining program eligibility.
Several teachers complained of unmotivated students, holding that low student motivation was the main problem with the program. There should be an expectation of work and progress made if the student is to remain in the program. The program could establish a minimum acceptable rate of progress in each benchmark area and a minimum number of assignments to be completed per week.
1. A minimum acceptable rate of progress in each benchmark area, as well as a minimum number of assignments to be completed per week, are to be established.
2. CET to mandate teachers to discuss and implement innovative new directions in the teaching of English (e.g. essential competences, occupation-specific language learning etc.)
CET does random surveys of students to monitor teacher performance but the results have never been compiled. Power Analysis has modified the learner survey used for this evaluation, which CET could use every year or two to obtain valid and reliable student feedback on the program and its teachers.
CET will have in their contractual agreement: a) student feedback about the program by using the Learner Survey developed by the Home Study evaluation; b) teachers’ evaluations, which will be part of their contractual requirements. CIC will communicate with the assessment centers to ensure that student eligibility is reinforced.
Teachers are paid less for LINC Home Study than for LINC classrooms. An equity argument would suggest that since Home Study and classroom teachers are teaching the same curriculum and since they are expected to have a similar level of skill and training, the pay should be the same. But a market argument would dictate that since CET appears to have no problem finding good teachers to work for $17 per hour, there is no need to raise salaries. Another consideration is that Home Study teachers have the convenience and cost-savings of working from home. CIC and CET should discuss this issue periodically to ensure the salaries they pay are reasonable.
Most teachers reported spending more time on the course than they were paid for. This suggests that the student-teacher ratio may be too high. CET and CIC should revisit the hour per week per student basis of payment, if that is insufficient to meet the needs of students in the course. It may be that more teachers are needed (on a per student basis), or it may be that teachers should be paid for more than an hour per student per week.
CET and Ops will discuss the hour per week per student basis of payment.
Teachers expressed interest in getting more training from CET on teaching the course. Most said that they got no training or too little training. Professional development could include orientation to the program, job shadowing and basic instruction on the use of the software for teaching the LINC curriculum.
- CIC will provide more funding to CET for PD. CET will identify what kind of PD is needed.
- A session for Home Study instructors will be organised as part of the Peel PD.
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