The province is taking an important step toward ensuring quality student learning in light of the enrolment and fiscal challenges facing public education. Education Minister Marilyn More announced today, Dec. 23, that respected educator Ben Levin will conduct a two-month review to provide advice to help the department and school boards improve the learning experience and outcomes for students. “Dr. Levin will provide advice and recommendations on how to ensure the education system in Nova Scotia meets the needs of tomorrow’s students,” said Marilyn More. Mr. Levin, a professor and Canada Research Chair on Educational Leadership at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and a former deputy minister of education in Ontario and Manitoba, has expertise in large-scale education reform and the role of government policy in education. “The issues facing education are very clear. We must improve student outcomes at a time when we have rapidly declining enrolments, and significant financial pressures,” said Ms. More. “Dr. Levin has a proven track record in developing reasonable, practical solutions for the challenges that exist in today’s education system.” Mr. Levin’s report will focus on strategies to maintain the quality of learning experiences and outcomes for students, while addressing issues that include making the best use of human resources within schools and boards, optimal use of school buildings, improving student and parent engagement, teaching and assessment practices, and improving school-family relationships. The report will not address issues of governance or funding models. The budget scenarios given to school boards earlier this fall will not be part of the review. “The public education system in Nova Scotia has served the province well; but education can never stand still in the face of changing circumstances,” said Dr. Levin. I look forward to contributing some ideas on how Nova Scotia schools can continue to support high-quality learning for all students within the realities of our times.” “Dr. Levin’s work will add value to the work already undertaken by department and school board staff to come to grips with the challenges facing education,” said Ms. More. “This will be another important piece of information to support us making the right decisions for students and families. We are at a crossroads and it is more important than ever that we take the steps necessary to manage our school system in a way that matches the number, and needs, of the students it serves.” Vic Fleury, president of the Nova Scotia School Boards Association, said he supports the decision to engage Mr. Levin. “This is a good initiative and we will certainly co-operate. School boards want to contribute to finding ways to make public education in Nova Scotia more cost effective,” said Mr. Fleury. In Nova Scotia, student numbers have dropped by 30,000, or 18 per cent, over the last decade, and will continue to decrease by another 17,000 students over the next 10 years. Enrolment declines and the province’s bleak financial picture is forcing government to look at more efficient ways to deliver public education. A final report is planned for the end of February.