|Dear TESL Ontario Member,
TESL Ontario values your membership and strives at improving services. As you know, the lion's share of the work is carried out by our many volunteers who serve on the board of directors, represent affiliate groups, and work tirelessly on various committees. TESL Ontario has always maintained a small office of four staff (for over 4000 members) for its day to day operations to reduce unnecessary costs as much as possible.
Currently, we are looking at improving the existing system of renewing membership and certification. As of January 2010, we are moving towards an integrated process whereby members will be able to renew both membership and certification at the same time. Given that almost all of our members have different membership and certification renewal dates; this unification process -while benefits our members - will create challenges for our small office as it considerably adds to staff workload. In an effort to spread the workload evenly, we have decided to use the membership dates as renewal dates. We encourage all members to take advantage of the website payment renewal feature to further ease the above challenge by helping us move towards a streamlined process.
The Board has approved two recommendations by Certification Committee to facilitate the above.
The first recommendation is an increase in certification fees and renewals. This increase was necessary to help us achieve full cost-recovery as well as hiring a full time staff dedicated to providing certification related services to members. Below is the rationale behind this recommendation:
- It was the original intent that once public funding of the certification process ceased in 2000, that the process would be cost-recovery. Unfortunately no increase in fees was made at that time and in fact the certification fee for the first five years (2000-2005) was only $45 ($9 per year), which is an unrealistically low fee that does not achieve cost-recovery.
- In 2005, when the concept of combining certification and membership fees (in 2010) was first undertaken, an annual fee of $16 per year was set for either application or renewal. In subsequent discussions it has become clear that the application process is much more time intensive than the renewal process, and that the $16 fee is far too low to achieve cost-recovery for either.
- The Certification Committee has researched accreditation fees for comparable professions and concluded that our fee was seen to be far less than the customary level for such a service. For example, the annual fee is $150 for the College of Early Childhood Educators.
- As our certification process has expanded, it has been necessary to increase our staffing to continue to offer a level of service to our certified members. A Certification Coordinator was hired in 2005 on a part-time basis at first, which was changed to full-time as the demand grew. There are, of course, other expenses involved in the process such as legal fees, printing and mailing costs of certificates.
The Committee recommended the following fee scales for the 2 membership categories:
MEMBERSHIP CATGORY #1 - our regular membership fee - for members who do not require or seek certification - as of January 1, 2010 remains at the present level of $86.00
MEMBERSHIP CATEGORY #2 - TESL Ontario Combined Membership/Certification Fee
- Renewing members - this combined fee will be comprised of $86.00 membership fee plus $80 for the certification renewal, which brings the amount to $166 per year. The majority of our members will fall under this Membership Category #2.
- New certification applicants -Applicants for certification must pay the annual membership fee of $86. In addition, there will be a one-time only, non-refundable administrative fee for the TESL Ontario Certification Application of $100, plus the annual Certification fee of $80. Therefore, a first-time certification applicant will pay a total of $266 ($86 membership fee + $100 administrative fee + $80 certification fee). Should an applicant be unsuccessful in meeting the requirements of certification, the $80 certification fee will be refunded, and if the applicant chooses not to retain a membership without certification, the $86 membership fee will be refunded. The one-time $100 adminsitrative fee is non-refundable.
The second recommendation has to do with P.D. hour requirement. The Certification Committee believes that as professionals, our members participate in many more professional development hours than required by TESL Ontario and as such is recommending the use of an honour system by which members are to indicate on the website form that they have accumulated 5 P.D. hours in a given year. Members will be asked to keep proof of their PD hours in their own files for five years, since verification may be required through random audit.
While we understand that this is a considerable increase in annual fees for certified members, we feel we are left with no choice if we are to continue to maintain the existing quality of service to our members.
The Membership Committee is currently working on the forms, web and paper, that will be used for combined membership/certification in 2010. Watch out for more communiqués in this regard.