Education Research in the Canadian Context


  • Daniel Laitsch
  • Gregory Rodney MacKinnon
  • David Young
  • Sophie Paish
  • Sue LeBel
  • Keith Walker
  • Benjamin Kutsyuruba
  • Sarah L. Patten
  • Brenton Cyriel Faubert
  • Anh Thi Hoai Le
  • Georges Wakim
  • Donna Swapp
  • Kaitlyn Watson
  • Joelle Rodway
  • Jean-Vianney Auclair
  • Sue Winton
  • Lauren Jervis
  • Theresa Gemma Shanahan
  • Victoria Handford
  • Kenneth Leithwood



This special issue of the International Journal of Education Policy & Leadership (IJEPL), Research in the Canadian Context, marks a significant milestone for the journal. Throughout our twelve-year history, we have sought to publish the best research in leadership, policy, and research use, allowing authors to decide the topics by dint of their research. While this model still serves as the foundation for IJEPL content, we decided to give researchers a chance to engage in deeper conversations by introducing special issues. In our first special issue, researchers discuss their work within the scope of education policy, leadership, and research use within the Canadian context. While many aspects of leadership, teaching, and learning can be seen as similar across contexts, there are also issues of particular concern within national, regional, provincial, or local spheres, particularly when looking at policy and system changes. The researchers featured in this issue provide an important look into education in Canada.

In the policy realm, Sue Winton and Lauren Jervis examine a 22-year campaign to change special education assessment policy in Ontario, examining how discourses dominant in the province enabled the government to leave the issue unresolved for decades. Issues of access and equity play out within a neoliberal context focused on individualism, meritocracy, and the reduced funding of public services. While Winton and Jervis highlight the tension between policy goals and ideological contexts, Jean-Vianney Auclair considers the place of policy dialogues within governmental frames, and the challenge of engaging in broadly applicable work within vertically structured governmental agencies. One often-touted way to move beyond

Research use
Within the scope of research use, Sarah L. Patten examines how socioeconomic status (SES) is defined and measured in Canada, the challenges in defining SES, and potential solutions specific to the Canadian context. In looking at knowledge mobilization, Joelle Rodway considers how formal coaches and informal social networks nserve to connect research, policy, and practice in Ontario’s Child and Youth Mental Health program.

Turning to leadership, contributing researchers explored the challenges involved in staff development, administrator preparation, and student outcomes. Keith Walker and Benjamin Kutsyuruba explore how educational administrators can support early career teachers to increase retention, and the somewhat haphazard policies and supports in place across Canada to bring administrators and new teachers together. Gregory Rodney MacKinnon, David Young, Sophie Paish, and Sue LeBel look at how one program in Nova Scotia conceptualizes professional growth, instructional leadership, and administrative effectiveness and the emerging needs of administrators to respond to issues of poverty, socioemotional health, and mental health, while also building community. This complex environment may mean expanding leadership preparation to include a broader consideration of well-being and community. Finally, Victoria Handford and Kenneth Leithwood look at the role school leaders play in improving student achievement in British Columbia, and the school district characteristics associated with improving student achievement.

Taken together, the research in this special issue touches on many of the challenges in policy development, application, and leadership practice, and the myriad ways that research can be used to address these challenges. We hope you enjoy this first special issue of IJEPL!

Author Biography

Daniel Laitsch

Dan Laitsch is an associate professor with the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University, and a Director on the SFU Faculty Association Executive Committee. He is a researcher with the SFU Centre for the Study of Educational Leadership and Policy and his primary teaching area is Educational Leadership. He co-editors the open access peer reviewed International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership ( and is active in the American Educational Research Association Special Interest Group on Research Use. Dr. Laitsch has worked with the Joint Consortium for School Health and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development on school health issues in BC and across Canada. Dr. Laitsch’s research examines the use and misuse of research in teaching, policymaking, and issue advocacy; the impact of neoliberal policies on educational systems; and school health approaches to systemic education reform. He earned his doctorate from American University, in Washington, DC. 




How to Cite

Laitsch, D., MacKinnon, G. R., Young, D., Paish, S., LeBel, S., Walker, K., Kutsyuruba, B., Patten, S. L., Faubert, B. C., Le, A. T. H., Wakim, G., Swapp, D., Watson, K., Rodway, J., Auclair, J.-V., Winton, S., Jervis, L., Shanahan, T. G., Handford, V., & Leithwood, K. (2019). Education Research in the Canadian Context. International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 14(10).