1981 – Johnson Memorandum

Historical Archive -- Please note that this document is provided for your information only, as an historical record of what the situation used to be. The policy described herein has now been revoked and replaced with Policy/Program Memorandum No.131.

MEMORANDUM TO: REGIONAL DIRECTORS OF EDUCATION
DIRECTORS OF EDUCATION
ATTENDANCE COUNSELLORS
RE: DETERMINING SATISFACTORY INSTRUCTION,
SECTION 20 (2) (a) THE EDUCATION ACT, 1974

According to Section 20 (2) (a) of the Education Act, 1974, "a child is excused from attendance at school if he is receiving satisfactory instruction at home or elsewhere". At the request of an attendance counsellor, the appropriate supervisory officer makes the first investigation to determine if satisfactory instruction is being offered "at home or elsewhere" by means of a tutor or a correspondence course. It is understood, however, that a school board supervisory officer may not inspect a private school.

The decision of His Honour, Judge D. Kent, Ontario Provincial Court (Family Division), in a recent judgement relating to "satisfactory instruction" was unequivocal. "The educational authorities must conclusively prove their case through the introduction of substantial detail and expert testimony if necessary".

The proposed criteria shown below for determining "satisfactory instruction" may be used immediately and should provide the procedure to establish the "substantial detail" necessary to make a decision.

The Education Act, 1974, Section 23 (2), makes provision for the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor to resolve disputes between parents (or guardians) and school attendance counsellors regarding the eligibility of the school age child to be excused from attendance at school. The inquiry by an appropriate supervisory officer nominated by the Provincial School Attendance Counsellor is a separate, autonomous investigation to the initial one carried out by the appropriate supervisory officer. This second inquiry will determine whether the child may be excused from attendance at school or will be directed to attend school forthwith.

The following recommended criteria may be used by an appropriate supervisory officer whenever it is necessary to determine if "satisfactory instruction" is occurring in the "home or elsewhere". It is suggested that these criteria be tested and evaluated for their appropriateness with a view to future improvement. Your Regional Director would appreciate receiving your comments about these criteria.

(Signed)
K.D. Johnson
Provincial School Attendance

SUGGESTED CRITERIA FOR DETERMINING SATISFACTORY INSTRUCTION

The following criteria may be used to establish whether or not "satisfactory instruction" is being provided "at home or elsewhere".

A. RELATING TO PROCESS

1. Availability of a written plan for instructing the pupil "at home or elsewhere" showing how the program is to be organized, scheduled and evaluated.

2. Availability in the "home or elsewhere" of texts and other learning materials appropriate to the developmental growth of the child.

3. Availability of samples of the pupil's work, of a quantity and quality to indicate a regular suitable program of instruction.

B. RELATING TO ACHIEVEMENT

1. Supervisory Officer's assessment of educational growth of the pupil based on
- discussion with the child
- examination of the written work of the pupil

2. Scores on Standardized Achievement tests in language and mathematics compared with the norms of pupils of similar age and background.

C. RELATING TO SUPERVISION OF THE PROGRAM

The supervisory officer should assess the program "at home or elsewhere" at least three times a year to ensure that the pupil is continuing to receive "satisfactory instruction". This expectation is congruent with the evaluation a pupil would receive in a classroom situation.