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English Montreal School Board Portfolio

6000 Fielding Avenue, Montreal, QC H3X 1T4
(514) 483-7200
English Montreal School Board EBP Journey

In 2016, Québec’s nine English school boards generously shared their stories with the EBP project about how they implemented evidence-based practices in their schools. In doing so, they hoped that the experience and knowledge gained as well as the support they received could illuminate and inform others embarking on a similar journey. 

Whereas important aspects of these stories have been captured on video , the story here provides a fuller picture of a complex work in progress and reflects how local conditions, constraints and challenges, such as the school board’s mission, the size of its territory and demographic make-up, factor into making this school board’s implementation journey unique. 

  The Eight Stages of Change: Implementing PLCs Board-Wide

Change on a large scale takes a great deal of time and a lot more. Matt Donovan, writing for the Harvard Business Review,[1] identifies eight stages or steps of successful large-scale change, arguing that without these steps, the change process will founder. Though we are not dealing here with the same type of large-scale paradigm, and whereas it is not a perfect analogy, to all intents and purposes, these stages are manifest in English Montreal School Board’s shift towards an evidence-based practice culture, a shift made in response to the results-based standards set by the Ministry of Education.  But, what are these stages and how did they manifest themselves along the way?  Or rather, as seen from the perspective of two key players, Gil Abisdris and Lina Zielinski, how are the efforts taken towards school improvement connected to each of these stages? 

Read the entire story



English Montreal School Board EBP Journey Timeline (2008 to present) 

Each school board has its own story when it comes to the adoption of evidence-based practice. While the approach and structure may vary from one school board to another, the common element between all boards is that evidence-based practice is a long-term endeavour which offers viable results.



  • 2018 ● Lead Data Team Seminar # 26

    Connecting Professional Development to Student Success: Are We Making a Difference? Building an Action Research Plan:The third and final seminar for this year focuses on building a concrete action plan and considering the details of their data collection in order to answer the question of impact of PD on teacher practices and student outcomes. 

  • 2018 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #25

    Gap & Goal: Action Research: This second seminar of the year is aimed at further developing members’ plans for their action research projects by exploring Thomas Guskey’s model of evaluation and considering the importance of and means to evaluating professional learning for teachers to ensure that it is having an impact on student learning and improving outcomes.

  • 2018 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #24

    Developing the Rational: Action Research: By making a connection between professional learning & student success in the first of this year’s seminars, participants further develop their rationale for carrying out action research on the impact of professional development.


  • 2017-2018 ● RTI development

    RTI is being developed at the school board level and Implementation of the RTI framework is introduced into 5 pilot schools (multi-step plan).


  • 2017 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #23

    Bringing it all together: reviewing the year’s learning, planning action research projects to be led by each participant in their school boards, and creating Special Interest Groups (SIGs), while asking ‘will it work for me?’.


  • 2017 ● Formative Assessment workshops

    Two workshops were held for all EMSB school Lead teams on Common Formative Assessment (CFA). This was followed by In-School Training of All Youth Sector Teachers in Practices of CFA.

  • 2017 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #22

    How Much Does it cost? - in developing a deeper and more critical understanding of how to evaluate research, participants ask ‘how much does it cost?’ and ‘is it worthwhile?’



  • 2016 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #21

    The focus is How Does it Work?

  • 2016 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #20

    This begins a series of seminars in a one year cycle examining research and research based strategies.  The focus, for the first session is, Does it Work?


  • 2016 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #19

    Setting the Scene: Participants begin to establish a knowledge base for accessing research and becoming familiar with the available research in education.

  • 2016 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #18

    Focused on Response to Intervention (RTI) frameworks-that of Dr. Mary Howard and that was presented by Solution Tree.

  • 2015-2016 ● Gil Abistris, Lina Zielinski, Educational Consultants

  • 2015 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #17

    Data Types: The overall goal for participants is to have brought all their learning (data types, research, coaching for data literacy) together and made links to their roles in supporting data teams in schools.

  • 2015 ● LDT Seminar: Special edition

    Learning For Us: Formative Assessment - This year’s final Seminar aims to familiarise participants with topics related to Formative Assessment.

  • 2015 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #15

    Visible Learning: A Catharsis: participants learn about key concepts in Visible Learning and consider its application in schools.


  • 2014-2015 ● Common Assessment Training

    Some 225 participants from Cohorts 1 and 2 school data teams (PLCs) and the Pedagogical Services Department attend a customized workshop on Building Common Formative Assessments with Cassandra Erkens. Participants work on identifying learning targets to improve student learning and collaboratively creating common formative assessments for applicable use as tools to monitor student learning, implement informed practice, and raise expectations.

  • 2014-2015 ● Response to Intervention (RTI) training, Nova Scotia

    Lead consultants attend Solution Tree RTI training and share their knowledge at the board level and in their school-based team visits. 

  • 2014 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #14

    Visible Learning & School Culture: Participants gain a deeper understanding of  what resistance to change in schools looks like and explore school culture in more depth, before moving towards finding solutions.

  • 2014 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #13

    Establishing and Monitoring PLCs: Know Thy Impact: Preparing members to establish a Professional Learning Community (PLC) in each of Quebec’s english schools as well as ‘learning for us’.


  • 2014 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #12

  • 2013-2014 ● Ongoing professional development

    Cohort 1 pilot schools continue to receive professional development opportunities, such as sessions based on the Leadership and Learning workshop Data Driven Decision Making for Results (DDDMR), implementation of the PLC concept and Data Team process. 

  • 2013-2014 ● Introduction of data management practices to second cohort of schools

    The second cohort of schools is introduced to data management. Principals and teachers of the remaining schools are trained on how to implement the use of evidence as practice for school improvement and increased student success.

  • 2013 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #11

  • 2013 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #10

  • 2013 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #9

  • 2012-2013 ● Cluster consultant follow up with schools

    Cluster consultants follow up with their respective school on two fixed pedagogical days. 

  • 2012-2013 ● Ongoing data team training for school teams

    Guest facilitator John Antonetti delivers a presentation to school teams on the use of evidence to improve student achievement with a simultaneous live feed to all other teachers in their respective schools.

  • 2012-2013 ● Ongoing data team training for educators and administrators

    Professional development focuses on in-school youth sector administrators and school teams, along with cluster consultants. Development includes participation at sessions from lead consultants: Anthony Muhammed, John Antonetti, Richard and Becky Dufour.

  • 2012 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #8

  • 2012 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #7

  • 2012 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #6

  • 2011-2012 ● Introduction of data management practices to first cohort of schools

    The EMSB prioritizes NANS schools, all high schools, and a few elementary schools to be part of Cohort 1, the first group of 36 pilot project schools to begin data management practices.  A principal and two teachers from each school attend a 2- day workshop on the data team process.

  • 2011-2012 ● Pilot project funding secured

    Funding to introduce the data team concept to half of EMSB schools in the first year is secured by means of a grant from the Evidence-Based 

  • 2011-2012 ● Data Team Training Certification

    A lead consultant becomes a certified Data Team Trainer. 

  • 2011-2012 ● PLC training for Principals

    EMSB Principals are introduced to the idea of PLCs and data teams through a one-day workshop. Cluster consultants are also invited to attend the sessions. 

  • 2011-2012 ● Ongoing training and exploration of PLCs

    Lead consultants attend a training session with Cathy Lassiter in Quebec City.  They travel to Halifax and Chicago to see school-based PLCs in action.

  • 2011-2012 ● Formation of consultant clusters

    Clusters of consultants are formed to support school teams with the PLC/Data Team process. Consultant dyads are assigned four schools each for which they are responsible for supporting and accompanying through the PLC journey.

  • 2011-2012 ● Critical Thinking Workshop

    Gil Abisdris and Lina Zielinski hold a critical thinking session and data management workshop to link the Partnership Agreement and MESA to the processes and purposes of data reporting.

  • 2011-2012 ● Ongoing training

    Funded by LCEEQ, Pedagogical Services Department (PSD) personnel attend a series of five professional development events on PLCs, Decision Making for Results and Data Teams with Cathy Lassiter and John Antonetti.

  • 2011-2012 ● Training on Data Wise Model for all EMSB educational consultants

    Gil Abisdris and Lina Zielinski share newly acquired knowledge with the consultant team and senior administration, who can now discuss school board orientations in terms of numeracy and literacy.

  • 2011 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #5

  • 2011 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #4

  • 2011 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #3

  • 2010-2011 ● Data-Driven Decision Making/Data Teams Seminar, Chicago (Illinois, USA)

    LDT EMSB consultants attend summit to learn how data-driven decision-making and collaborative Data Team practice drives student results. (Leadership and Learning).

  • 2010 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #2

  • 2010 ● Lead Data Team Seminar #1

    The Lead Data Team (LDT) is launched. Evidence-based Practice Project (EBP) team members recruited.
  • 2009-2010 ● EMSB consultants assigned leadership role

    EMSB consultants are mandated to generate support and understanding within the Board on how PLCs use data to improve student success rates.  

  • 2009-2010 ● First EBP Lead Data Team established

    Gil Abisdris and Lina Zielinski, consultants at the English Montreal School Board (EMSB), join the EBP Project Lead Data team and are trained in the Data Wise model. 

  • 2009-2010 ● Data Team Summit, Vale (Colorado, USA)

    LDT EMSB consultants attend summit to learn how data-driven decision-making and collaborative Data Teams’ practice drives student results.

  • 2009-2010 ● PLCs adopted as best approach to results-based management

    Educational Services Director, Sandra Furfaro, decides to implement Professional Learning Communities (PLC) board-wide. More specifically, to implement PLCs in all schools and use a variety of data to set SMART goals based on proven instructional strategies. 

  • 2009-2010 ● Introduction of Bill 88

    Partnership Agreements between school boards and the Ministry of Education are signed, committing schools and boards to specific success rate targets.