What Is Incompetent Professional Practice?
Incompetent professional practice is the inability of an ATA member to consistently meet the requirements of the Teaching Quality Standard. The Teaching Quality Standard is a ministerial order that defines the knowledge, skills and attributes that teachers are expected to demonstrate as they complete their professional preparation, enter the profession and progress through their career.
Incompetent practice implies much more than mere unsatisfactory performance, which occurs when a teacher fails to meet expectations in a particular aspect of his or her teaching practice. Such failures may be related to a particular circumstance, such as an inappropriate teaching assignment, and can usually be addressed by offering the teacher remedial assistance or some other form of support. In other cases, unsatisfactory performance may be the result of an underlying medical condition, in which case the matter may be dealt with as a medical disability. Incompetent practice, by contrast, refers to a situation in which, even after receiving remedial assistance, a teacher still cannot meet the expectations of the Teaching Quality Standard.
The Association does not have the authority to review the practice of teachers employed in charter or private schools in Alberta. Complaints about the practice of such teachers should be addressed to the minister of education.
Who Can File a Complaint?
Anyone who has concerns about the professional competence of a teacher with respect to teaching students can make a complaint. In addition, a superintendent who has reasonable grounds to question the professional competence of a teacher may initiate an investigation.
How Do I File a Complaint?
If you wish to complain about the competence of a teacher, you must make the complaint in writing, sign it and send it to the superintendent of the school board employing the teacher.
A complaint about a former ATA member must be lodged within two years of the day on which the former member ceased to be a member.
How Does the Practice Review Process Work?
- Upon receiving a written complaint about the competence of a teacher, the superintendent assesses whether the complaint actually involves an issue of competence.
- If the complaint involves an issue of competence or if the superintendent has reasonable grounds to question the competence of a teacher, the superintendent will investigate whether the teacher is meeting the Teaching Quality Standard. The superintendent will inform the complainant (if any) and the investigated teacher that an investigation is under way.
- If, upon concluding the investigation, the superintendent concludes that there is no basis for questioning the teacher’s professional competence, the superintendent will advise the complainant (if any) and the investigated teacher that the investigation is complete and that no further action will be taken.
- If the superintendent concludes that no further action is warranted, the complainant may, within 30 days, appeal that decision, in writing, to the ATA’s Professional Practice Complainant Appeal Committee. The fee for initiating such an appeal is $250. The Complainant Appeal Committee may affirm the decision of the superintendent not to order a hearing (in which case the matter is closed) or refer the case to a hearing committee.
- If the superintendent concludes that the investigated teacher is not meeting the Teaching Quality Standard, that the Teacher Growth, Supervision and Evaluation Policy has been followed and that the investigated teacher’s suitability for certification is in question, the superintendent will, within 30 days, make a report to that effect to the Association’s executive secretary.
- Upon receiving the superintendent’s report, the executive secretary will, within 30 days, order a hearing of the case by the ATA’s Professional Practice Review Committee. This committee consists of two classroom teachers, one principal or vice-principal, a central office administrator and a member of the public. The hearing is open to the public.
- After hearing evidence, the hearing committee determines whether the investigated teacher’s professional competence meets or does not meet the Teaching Quality Standard. If the committee determines that the investigated teacher’s competence does not meet the Teaching Quality Standard, it may recommend the cancellation or suspension of the teacher’s ATA membership, recommend that the minister of education cancel or suspend the member's teaching certificate or make another order. Before the committee hands down its decision, the investigated teacher may voluntarily request that his or her certificate be cancelled.
- The investigated teacher, the superintendent or Provincial Executive Council may appeal the decision of the Practice Review Committee to the Professional Practice Appeal Committee. The hearing is open to the public unless the committee requests privacy.
- After hearing the appeal, the Practice Review Appeal Committee may quash, vary or confirm the hearing committee's decision; make its own decision; or refer the case back to the hearing committee.
- Within 45 days of hearing the appeal, the Appeal Committee will communicate its decision to the executive secretary who, in turn, will copy it to the investigated teacher, the superintendent, the registrar and Provincial Executive Council. If the committee has recommended cancellation or suspension of the member's teaching certificate, the executive secretary will also advise the minister of education of the decision.
What Statutes Govern the Practice Review Process?
- The Association’s Practice Review Bylaws, as ratified by the minister of education in accordance with section 8(4) of the Teaching Profession Act, outline the process that the ATA follows in reviewing the professional practice of teachers.
- The Teaching Quality Standard, as approved by Ministerial Order (#016/97), defines the standards of professional practice expected of teachers in Alberta.
- Alberta Education’s Teacher Growth, Supervision and Evaluation Policy outlines the processes that school boards must follow in supervising and evaluating teachers.