The Ontario Association of Adult and Continuing Education School Board Administrators (CESBA) and International Language Educators Association (ILEA) worked together to develop this comprehensive Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition(PLAR) for Mature Students’ First Language Challenge Evaluation Support Package.
This initiative builds on previous Ministry investments to support implementation of Program and Policy Memorandum 13: Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) for Mature Students: Implementation in Ontario Secondary Schools (PPM 132), such as PLAR for Mature Students binder and training (2003), Provincial training, binder and DVD (2008), Newcomer First Language Pilot Project (2008), Provincial Curriculum Equivalency Comparison CD (2008), and Supplementary Provincial Resource Document (2009).
The purpose of the evaluation support package is to provide resources that school boards require in order to provide a full suite of PLAR for Mature Students opportunities for adult newcomers. This will increase the likelihood that adult newcomers will be able to participate in the PLAR for Mature Students process to earn secondary credits, in all areas of Ontario, for their prior learning in their first language. The challenge assessments may also contribute to the understanding of first language literacy of newcomers to Ontario.
This document will specifically support the PLAR for Mature Students’ First Language Challenge process for evaluating a mature student’s proficiency in their first language which allows them to earn a credit towards an OSSD. One of the recommendations from the Newcomer Pilot Projects (2007-2008) was that e-Learning Ontario be a vehicle for Newcomer First Language Challenge assessments. The result of discussions around that recommendation was the development of First Language Challenges in both paper and online versions. Information regarding accessing First Language Challenges can be found in Section 4 of this document.
This evaluation support package has been designed to help school boards to implement first language challenges in an efficient and effective manner by providing information and documentation required for the process. Topics covered include:
“The "challenge" process for mature students is the process whereby students' prior learning is assessed for the purpose of granting credit for a Grade 11 or 12 course developed from an Ontario curriculum policy document published in 2000 or later. All credits granted through the PLAR process – that is, through either the challenge process or the equivalency process – must represent the same standards of achievement as credits granted to students who have taken the courses.” PPM 132
“It should be noted that a board is not obliged to provide opportunities for mature students to challenge for credit for courses based on provincial curriculum policy documents that are not actually taught in schools operated by the board. Such a board may make arrangements with other boards to provide opportunities for eligible students to challenge for credit for courses that are not offered by the board.” PPM 132
Currently there are Grade 11 and 12 open level courses First Language Challenge Evaluations, available in both online and print versions, in the following languages:
A mature student can challenge the Grade 11 and/or Grade 12 course in their first language. Mature students may challenge for credit for up to 10 Grade 11 and 12 courses based on provincial curriculum policy documents. However, they may obtain no more than 10 Grade 11 and 12 credits through the challenge and equivalency processes combined.
The challenge process for mature students is the process whereby students’ prior learning is assessed for the purpose of granting credit for a grade 11 or 12 course. Students must complete an application form and must demonstrate on the application form and in discussions with the principal that they would likely be successful in the challenge process. Students may use certificates or other records of accomplishment as reasonable evidence if they are available.
The equivalency process for mature students is the process whereby students’ education and training credentials and other appropriate documentation are assessed for the purpose of granting credit for a grade 11 or 12 course. Students must complete an application form and attach appropriate credentials and documentation as follows: formal transcripts, certificates, and/or other documentation of learning gained through other courses, programs, or work experiences.
In the case of both challenges and equivalencies, the evidence of learning must relate directly to the Ontario curriculum expectations for specific courses.
Mature students who can demonstrate through the application process that their previous learning meets expectations of Ontario curriculum, but who have little or no documentation to support this, or students who do not have extensive work or other prior learning experiences might opt to enter the challenge process. It is important to note as well that students who challenge for a course will receive a mark on their transcript. Often this is an important factor for students applying to university or college. It must also be noted, however, that a failure on a challenge will also be recorded on a student’s OST.
Mature students who have considerable previous education, training, and/or work experience that relates directly to Ontario curriculum expectations and who can support this with written documentation would in most cases opt for the equivalency process. However, these students would not receive a mark for any of the equivalency credits they were granted. The transcript would record “EQV” in the mark column.