McGuinty government keeps promise to invest in education: Delivers urgent learning boost for students

Archived Release

McGuinty government keeps promise to invest in education: Delivers urgent learning boost for students

Ministry of Education

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Dec. 3 - The McGuinty government is taking its first step towards improving student literacy and numeracy with $112 million in support for students who are struggling the most, Minister of Education Gerard Kennedy said today. "Students from low-income and single-parent families and those who have recently settled in Canada often need extra help to succeed in literacy and numeracy," said Kennedy. "Our government will not leave kids behind just because they have extra challenges. We're going to help them over these hurdles. This represents a real, positive change for public education in Ontario." The $112 million announced today consists of: - $95 million to help students from low-income and single-parent families, as well as recent immigrants - all of these factors are known to affect student achievement; and - $17 million for services for students whose second language is English. The Education Equality Task Force, headed by Mordechai Rozanski, recommended more funding to help address these students' needs. This was reinforced by recent Education Quality Accountability Office (EQAO) test scores, in which only one quarter of Grade 3 and Grade 6 students with English as a second language met the provincial standard in both reading and writing. "This action is urgently required to help school boards meet the unique needs of students. It's a necessary step in fixing the previous government's flawed funding formula," said Kennedy. "This investment will help to stabilize school boards with a high proportion of these students, while benefiting all students with extra challenges. We are starting down the road to making Ontario's public education the world's best education." Kennedy added that the funding will flow to all school boards across the province and will help support these students' literacy and other learning needs right away. Boards will be required to report to the community on how this new funding is used. The previous government ignored recommendations of the Rozanski Report, which called for increased funding for English-as-a-second-language programs and more funding to recognize the higher costs faced by boards with diverse student populations. Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- December 3, 2003 BOOSTING LITERACY SKILLS OF STUDENTS MOST IN NEED The $112 million in new funding in the current school year announced today by the McGuinty government will help students most in need improve their literacy and numeracy skills. The funding is designed to help students from low-income families, from single-parent families and from families that have recently immigrated to Canada. These students have been shown to be more at risk of academic difficulties. Education Minister Gerard Kennedy made the announcement at Havenwood Public School in the Dixie Bloor community in Mississauga. The Dixie Bloor area was one of the communities studied in a federally sponsored research program on education. Understanding the Early Years: Early Childhood Development in the Dixie Bloor Community of Mississauga, Ontario, released just two weeks ago, confirmed that family and community factors affect student achievement. The study found that 28 per cent of five- and six-year-olds do not have the language skills to graduate from senior kindergarten and begin Grade 1 (approximately three times the national average). The community has a high percentage of single-parent families and recent immigrants. Students from low-income families Analysis of provincial testing by the Education Quality Accountability Office (EQAO) in 2001-02 reveals that schools with a higher percentage of students from low-income families have a lower achievement level in Grade 3 reading: - schools with the highest percentage of students from low-income families saw only 42 per cent of their students achieve the provincial standard; and - schools with the lowest percentage of students from low-income families saw 56 percent of students achieve the provincial standard. Students with English as a second language The new funding announced today will support English-as-a-second-language students who often need more help to improve their literacy skills. It will also support similar French-literacy programs in French-language school boards. The 2002-03 EQAO results show that: - in Grade 3, 25 per cent of ESL students achieved the provincial standard in reading, compared to 51 per cent of non-ESL students; - in Grade 3, 34 per cent of ESL students achieved the provincial standard in writing, compared to 57 per cent of non-ESL students; - in Grade 6, 25 per cent of ESL students achieved the provincial standard in reading, compared to 57 per cent of non-ESL students; and - in Grade 6, 24 per cent of ESL students achieved the provincial standard in writing, compared to 54 per cent of non-ESL students. Types of programs supported by the new funding Boards provide a wide variety of supports and programs for students with academic difficulties, including the following: - lower pupil/teacher ratios; - teacher aides, tutors, counsellors and social workers; - augmented literacy and numeracy programs; - expanded kindergarten; - intensified remedial reading programs; - computer-aided instruction; - before- and after-school programs; - homework help; and - breakfast/lunch programs. Funding breakdown Today's new investment will immediately increase two grants under the current funding formula. The first increase of $95 million to the demographic component of the Learning Opportunities Grant (LOG) will help support literacy and math skills for students who may be at risk of not reaching their goals. The demographic component of the LOG will now total $311 million for 2003-04. In 1997, an Expert Panel on the Learning Opportunities Grant estimated that school boards were spending approximately $400 million a year to help students at risk. At the introduction of the new funding formula in 1998, the Learning Opportunities Grant for school boards to help these students only totalled $185 million. The second increase of nearly $17 million is to the ESL and Perfectionnement du Français (PDF) components of the Language Grant. These components will now total $207 million for 2003-04. The Language Grant provides funding towards school boards' costs for both remedial and preventative language instruction. These programs are for students who were born in countries where English (French for students in French-language boards) is not a first or standard language, and for Canadian-born students whose language spoken at home is not English (French for students in French- language boards). Research indicates that students from families with low income, with low parental education, from single-parent families and the children of recent immigrants face higher risks of not reaching their academic goals. The demographic component of the grant will provide increased funding to urban boards where a high proportion of students in these categories live. Disponible en français For more information visit www.edu.gov.on.caFor further information: Media Contacts: Jill Fairbrother, Minister's Office, (416) 325-2683, (416) 788-0539 (cell); Dave Ross, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2709; Public Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514, TTY: 1-800-263-2892