Student success is also the business of HRD at the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est !

Work that involves our children is diverse and is usually known for the requirements of motivation, creativity, team spirit, and the quality of its customer service. Moreover, in recent years, the education sector has been placing increased focus on student success. However, the characteristics of student clientele are changing and the demands with respect to changing characteristics are only increasing. Faced with new challenges, several questions have arisen for educational administrators, including how to ensure the right personnel are hired and how to identify candidates who will perform in these changing conditions. Should positions be filled based solely on education and experience, or rather on a different set of characteristics of soft skills and know-how?

The Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE) is the largest Canadian network of French-language schools outside of Quebec, with 20,000 students in 38 elementary schools, 10 high schools, and a school for adults. The CECCE is an example of innovative, responsible and proactive human resources management. The Human Resources Department (HRD) of CECCE was able to successfully adapt to the demands of their environment. Today, the HRD plays the role of leader within the organization while it guides CECCE’s responses faced with the previously mentioned recruitment challenges. This article will briefly present CECCE HR team’s achievements that took place within recent years. CECCE’s HR team offers services to over 2,000 employees.

The CECCE, with its headquarters in Ottawa, is one of Ontario’s education sector leaders, as exemplified by the results of its students in the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) 1 standardized provincial tests. It is very likely that these positive results are related to the activities of the Human Resources Department in implementing the competency based approach more than a decade ago. To implement the competency based approach, competency profiles were developed for senior managers, principals and administrative services employees. Subsequently, the HR department realigned their selection processes, evaluation of potential and professional development based on the established competency profiles. Some doubt remained about this new competency approach, partly because the evaluation of competencies was based primarily on generic evaluation methods. However, time and results have demonstrated the effectiveness of this human resources management method. Furthermore, one study found a selection rate of 90% with respect to the principals of the schools, and another recent study found a selection rate of 96% for teachers 2.

In 2006, the CECCE established a partnership with EPSI to develop interactive simulations adapted to the education sector in order to improve the evaluation of school principal applications. The CECCE set up an assessment centre which consisted of an in-basket exercise, two (2) interactive simulations (meeting with an employee, meeting with a parent) and a personality test. Using the assessment centre all support personnel are assessed to ensure that each candidate meets the CECCE’s requirements and the appropriate competencies established by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

More recently, a team of HR managers at CECCE revised the selection processes for teachers, education specialists, childhood educators and support staff. Each employment category has a specific competency profile and selection process adapted to the characteristics of the category. In addition, the selection processes are established in advance, allowing a better planning process and greater predictive validity.

From an organizational development perspective, in 2007 the CECCE began a consultation process with its 2,000 employees in order to build a generic profile of the sought after characteristics for CECCE’s employees. Through many working groups involving employees of all professions and levels, the Human Resources Department established a profile with nine (9) characteristics specific to the CECCE. Now launched, this profile helps clearly promote the profile of characteristics that distinguishes CECCE employees from other organizations in the field of education.

This year, as a result of two (2) years of reflection and development the CECCE launched a formal leadership development program. This new tool allows for the welcoming of new successors, as well as provides internal personnel with the opportunity to progress within the hierarchy of CECCE. Following the process of evaluating potential, successful candidates join the program to participate in training activities related to the competency profile for their desired position. Thanks to expert advice and screening tools, aspiring employees are well informed and guided on their journey towards managerial positions.

Finally, despite labour shortages and competition within the education community, the CECCE HR team has always stayed on course in regard to selection, and development of employees that is consistent with the values of the organization. Thus, by its actions the Human Resources Department contributes actively to providing CECCE clientele with the best Board ever!

EPSI’s experience in the field of education dates back to 1995. At that time, the firm offered in-basket exercises and personality tests to guide the selection of future principals. Today, 16 years later, using Compmetrica assessment products, EPSI facilitates the hiring of administrative support staff, educators, early childhood educators, counselors, teaching staff and school principals. Currently, EPSI consultants work closely with more than ten school boards in Quebec, several in Ontario, CEGEP’s, private colleges as well as universities. All use specific or generic assessment tools and have access to expert advice from EPSI regarding best practices in human resources management.

Sylvie Auger, B.A.A., CRHA
Assessment and Evaluation Consultant


Philippe Longpré, Ph.D. (cdt)
I/O Psychology Consultant

1 For example, in 2010-2011, CECCE students of the 3rd grade obtained the best results of the 12 boards in the French-language reading, writing, and math. On the other hand, CECCE students of the 6th grade significantly exceeded the provincial standard on the EQAO tests with respect to the three (3) areas for eight (8) years.
2 These studies linked the hiring decisions and the performance of candidates at least one year after being hired. Recruitment is set to be “fair” when the candidate offers a performance equivalent to or above the expectations appropriate to its functions. For principals, the results are based on a study resulting in the performance of 80 principals. With respect to the teachers, the results are from a sample of 47 teachers.