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Results Without Rancour or Ranking: Ontario’s Improvement Strategy

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Results Without Rancour or Ranking: Ontario’s Improvement Strategy. Dr. Avis E. Glaze Ruth Mattingley Ontario’s Education Commissioner & Senior Executive Officer Senior Adviser to the Minister of Education The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat May 2008.

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Results Without Rancour or Ranking: Ontario’s Improvement Strategy

Dr. Avis E. Glaze Ruth Mattingley

Ontario’s Education Commissioner & Senior Executive Officer

Senior Adviser to the Minister of Education The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat

May 2008

our shared sense of purpose
Our Shared Sense of Purpose
  • “Making public education the best education is the single most important thing that we can do together to build a bright and promising future for all of us.”
  • “We can build a stronger economy, a stronger society, a stronger Ontario, by strengthening the education and skills of our people.”

The Honourable Dalton McGuinty,

Premier of Ontario

Ministry of Education: Key Goals
  • High levels of student achievement
  • Reduced gaps in student achievement
  • Increased confidence in public education

Provincial Achievement Target, K-6

“Every student in Ontario will develop reading, writing, math and comprehension skills at a higher level by the age of 12. Progress will be measured by ensuring that by 2008, 75% of students reach the provincial standard.”


Provincial Achievement Target, Grades 7-12

‘That 85% of students will graduate from high school by 2010-11’

The Student Success/Learning to 18 Initiative:

  • Increased graduation rates
  • Student success teams
  • Expanded co-op credits
  • Specialist high skills major
  • Dual credit program
  • Lighthouse projects
  • Grade 8–9 transition
Excellence and Equity
  • The Moral Imperative
  • The Economic Imperative
  • The Value-for-Money Imperative
  • The Demographic Imperative
  • The Social Justice Imperative
  • The Community Health Imperative
  • The Human Rights Imperative
Education: The Lifeblood of Democracy
  • A civil society
  • Literacy – an investment in human capital
  • The sense of urgency
  • The cost to a nation of inadequate education
  • Establishment of the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat
  • Educating all children successfully
educating children for tomorrow s world
Educating Children for Tomorrow’s World
  • Selected global trends
  • Need to prepare for the Semantic Web
  • Need to prepare for SPOT technology (Smart Personal Object Technology)
  • The invention of nanotechnology
  • The technology that the millennials will be using
9 key strategies
9 Key Strategies
  • Work with district school boards and set targets
  • Identify teams at all levels to drive continuous improvement in literacy and numeracy
  • Reduce class sizes in the primary grades to a maximum of 20 students per class by 2007-08
  • Allocate resources to support target setting and improvement plans
  • Build capacity to support student learning and achievement
  • Mobilize the system to provide equity in student outcome
  • Embark on a process of community outreach and engagement to build support for the literacy and numeracy initiative
  • Demonstrate a commitment to research and evidence-based inquiry and decision making
  • Establish a growing presence on the national and international scene
Increased funding (in spite of enrolment decline)
  • Ambitious targets with clearly-defined intervention strategies
  • Reduction in class size
  • Ontario Focussed Intervention Partnership (OFIP) directed at 1200 schools
  • Schools on the Move: Lighthouse Program
  • Statistical Neighbours data analysis tool
  • 270 locally developed innovative projects
  • A focus on equity of outcome

Selected Accomplishments

Student Achievement Officers work directly with schools and boards
  • School improvement plans with clearly defined strategies to achieve targets
  • Specific research initiatives with faculties of education
  • Capacity building and job-embedded professional learning for teachers
  • Webcasts - with a focus on instructional effectiveness and leadership development
  • Empirical research in Ontario schools on teaching, learning and leadership effectiveness

Selected Accomplishments

Selected Accomplishments
  • Multiple partnerships with stakeholders and faculties of education
  • Capacity building for groups at all levels of the system
  • Directors’ Leadership Alliance Network (LANSA)
  • Expanded tutoring initiatives
  • Character development – province wide
  • National and international conferences
Selected Accomplishments
  • Production of state-of-the-art documents and resources
  • What Works: Research into Practice for classroom teachers
  • Improvement teams at the regional, district and school levels
  • Leadership development initiatives for principals, superintendents and directors of education
  • Establishment of clear implementation strategies to ensure that initiatives are having an impact on classroom practice
Selected Accomplishments
  • International experts as Critical Friends
  • Turnaround Teams Initiative
  • Professional learning communities in schools
  • Capacity building on specific areas needing improvement as identified by EQAO test results
  • Research on eight successful school districts with the sharing of success criteria
Selected Accomplishments
  • A national agency to evaluate the effectiveness of the Secretariat’s goals, strategies, impact and results
  • A Working Table of key stakeholders to provide input on key directions
  • Training on specific areas of interest to teachers, e.g., differentiated instruction
  • National and international conferences
  • A character development initiative in all Ontario schools based on community consultations

Equity of Outcome


  • The gender gap in mathematics is closing
  • Girls continue to out-perform boys in reading and writing

Students in Special Education Programs:

  • Demonstrating steady improvement

English-Language Learners:

  • Demonstrating steady improvement

There is evidence that the achievement gaps are closing steadily!


Improvement Trends in School Boards

Since 2002–03:

  • 99% of boards have improved in reading
  • 96% of boards have improved in writing
  • 92% of boards have improved in mathematics
  • 64% of boards have improved for three straight years in writing
  • 33% of boards have improved for three straight years in mathematics

The Globe and Mail,

November 29, 2007

Pan Canadian Assessment Program
  • Pan-Canadian Assessment Program for 13 year olds
  • Replaces the SAIP-School Achievement Indicators Program
  • Conducted by CMEC-Council of Ministers of Education Canada
  • First administration of PCAP-13 took place in the spring of 2007
  • Result of this administration released 28/04/2008
the ontario focused intervention partnership ofip
The Ontario Focused Intervention Partnership (OFIP)

Key Expectations:

Uninterrupted literacy and numeracy blocks

A common assessment tool

A school improvement team

A school improvement plan

Targeted resources

Regular monitoring

Professional Learning Community


Improvement Through Focused Action

Preliminary analysis indicates that in 2006-07:

  • 75% of OFIP 1 schools improved in Grade 6 Reading
  • 66% of OFIP 1 schools improved in Grade 3 Reading
  • 73% of OFIP 2 schools improved in Grade 6 Reading
  • 77% of OFIP 2 schools improved in Grade 3 Reading
  • 61% of OFIP 1 and 2 schools improved by 10% or more in at least one of Grade 3 and Grade 6 Reading
External Evaluation of The Secretariat

“When considering the work of the LNS in total, one predominant theme emerged: in partnership with school boards, there has been a significant shift in the culture of Ontario schools that is focused on enabling the success of all students. There has been sustained improvement in student achievement. The LNS has created and sustains a “Sense of Urgency” that permeates the educational language being spoken throughout boards.”

Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network (2007)

Character Development in Ontario
  • Character development in schools
  • Character in the workplace
  • Building communities of character
  • Finding Common Ground: Character Development in Ontario Schools, K-12
  • Provincial consultations
  • Essential components:
    • Academic achievement
    • Character development
    • Citizenship development
    • Respect for diversity
    • Equity and inclusive education

Character Development

    • What Business Wants
  • “We in the business world don’t want young people coming into our employment and into our communities who are brilliant, but dishonest; who have great intellectual knowledge, but don’t really care about others; who have highly creative minds, but are irresponsible. All of us in business and the entire adult community need to do our part in helping build young people of high character. There isn’t a more critical issue in education today.”
    • Sandy McDonnell
Results without Rancour or Ranking: The Strategy
  • Dialogue and engagement
    • Forging consensus
    • Developing a common sense of purpose
    • Building commitment and motivation
  • Pressure and support
  • School improvement planning
  • Class size reduction
  • High yield strategies
  • Deep implementation and monitoring
Results without Rancour or Ranking: The Strategy
  • Targeted resources
  • Capacity building at all levels of the system
  • Teams and networks
  • Community outreach and engagement
  • Assessment of district and school effectiveness
  • Focus on professional accountability
  • Excellence and equity
  • International comparability

Signs of Progress

  • A clear focus on improving student achievement
  • Increased evidence of a team approach to planning and learning
  • Increased job-embedded professional learning
  • Improved morale and confidence in government direction
  • Smaller class sizes and more teachers
  • Positive energy - students and staff
  • More effective use of research-based instructional practices
  • Expanded professional learning programs for teachers, principals and superintendents

Re-affirming Our Mission

  • Democracy and education are inextricably intertwined
  • Democracy is strongest where education is strongest
  • A robust publicly-funded education is a hallmark of our democracy
  • The quest for equity and excellence must be relentless for the health, prosperity and wellbeing our country
  • Our moral imperative to improve life chances
  • Education is the ultimate tool of empowerment
let s imagine a preferred future
Let’s Imagine…A Preferred Future

“Children delight in school because learning is ‘fun’. Their attitudes to learning and their behaviour are exemplary. Attendance is high. The care, guidance and support of children are exceptional and emphasize children’s emotional health. Teachers squeeze every last drop of creativity from children. The rich curriculum is packed with experiences that fully engage learners. Children with learning difficulties and or disabilities and those who speak a language other than English receive support of the highest quality and achieve equally well. Staff create a magical place to learn where academic rigour and emotional well-being happily co-exist. The …leadership of the head teacher drives the whole school team to ‘Reach for the Stars!”

Mumby (2007)