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Board Meetings

September 18, 2007

Core French in Ontario Schools/OPSBA
Core French OISE/UT Bluewater Research

The attached report from the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) demonstrates their interest in improving core French instruction in Ontario schools.  OPSBA has asked school boards for their input based on the four questions on page 3 of the report.  I responded on behalf of Bluewater in the spring and shared with OPSBA the preliminary information about research that was at the time being conducted in Bluewater.
Bluewater has a great interest in the OPSBA focus on French Second Language (FSL) instruction and would be an ideal partner in addressing these questions for the following reasons:

Strong advisory committees are established in Bluewater which have guided decisions related to FSL in Bluewater
$600,000 in revenue for FSL is coming into Bluewater over 3 years as a result of an extensive proposal informed by the three FSL advisory committees (attached)
Part of the FSL grant revenue has been used to fund research to determine the impact of the Accelerated Instruction Model (AIM) on student achievement.  This research, which has been conducted through OISE/UT is under the leadership of Sharon Lapkin, nationally recognized as an authority on French Second Language instructional issues.  The Bluewater study is the most comprehensive of its kind conducted anyplace in Canada to date.   An executive summary of the research is attached.
Bluewater has received a provincial award from Canadian Parents for French (CPF) and has been recognized province wide for the positive relations between CPF and our Board which results in additional support for FSL instruction

Related to the OPSBA desire to determine effective instructional strategies for FSL, there is a desire to address the issue about students not choosing to continue core French beyond the mandatory grade 9 year.  A second component of our Bluewater research is to track the grade 8 students who were involved in the initial research into their grade 9 year.  Their course selections made in the spring of  2008 for their grade 10 year will be used to determine if the instructional method has any impact on whether or not students continue in core French beyond grade 9.  Within Bluewater, we will be developing a brief survey for those students to determine the factors involved in this decision.  It is our belief that there are many factors that impact a student’s decision to continue in particular programs that may go beyond only an FSL issue.

A significant investment has been made in Bluewater to gather the first body of research related to effective instructional strategies for FSL.  We would be willing to share this research to help shape provincial direction.  If OPSBA would be willing to fund the second stage of this research question, the information gained would be important in any discussion that could impact provincial directions re FSL instruction.

As in any research project, the resulting questions are often more compelling than the initial answers derived from the research.  While the research provides much food for thought, there is a strong feeling amongst the researchers and the core French advisory committee that further research conducted at the grade 4 level would more clearly answer the research question related to the effectiveness of the AIM program.  This would be the obvious second stage of research which could provide more clarity related to effective instructional methods for FSL

While the OPSBA interest in lobbying the Ministry of Education to convene a group of stakeholders to determine the best delivery model for core French is a noble one, this will only be a meaningful conversation if there is research to inform that discussion.


THAT Bluewater DSB approach OPSBA to determine an interest in funding the second stage of research related to effective instructional strategies for core French

THAT Bluewater DSB request a place at the stakeholder table if the Ministry of Education convenes such a group based on the OPSBA request.

Submitted to:
Bluewater District School Board
September 18, 2007
For more information please contact
Mary Anne Alton, Director or
Jan Johnstone, Bluewater OPSBA Contact


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