Ontario elementary students to benefit from unprecedented learning boost

Archived Release

Ontario elementary students to benefit from unprecedented learning boost

Ministry of Education

TORONTO, June 24 - Ontario's publicly funded elementary schools will be better in September because of new literacy and numeracy initiatives, says Education Minister Gerard Kennedy. The new "Education Foundations" program has a target to assist more Grade 6 students each year reach high levels in reading, writing, mathematics and comprehension by 2008, reaching 75 per cent of all students. Currently an average of about 82,000 12-year-olds, or just 54 per cent, are reaching provincial standards each year. "We're going to support our students and teachers in a way that has never been attempted before," said Kennedy. "We want parents to know that we strongly believe that every child can learn and they will be able to tell the difference when the next school year starts." The province will support the new "Education Foundations" program with $160 million in new resources, including: - Intensive teacher development and ongoing support - 16,000 lead teachers, - Smaller class sizes - 1,100 new primary teachers, - Focused curriculum - daily emphasis on literacy and numeracy, - Targeted supports - turnaround teams and innovation funds, - Expert co-ordination - provincial Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat. "As the Premier often says, we know that children who succeed in reading, writing and math by age 12 have a much greater chance of finishing high school and continuing their education beyond high school in a college, university, apprenticeship or job placement program," said Kennedy. A York Region study of 5,000 students shows a direct correlation to how well students fared in Grade 6 tests and their accomplishment on Grade 10 literacy tests four years later. Today's announcement is part of $854 million in education investments in the provincial budget for the next school year. A previously announced companion "Student Success" program is being undertaken in Ontario high schools to reduce drop-out rates through new policies and $117 million in new and reallocated resources. Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT "EDUCATION FOUNDATIONS" PROGRAM PROVINCE-WIDE LITERACY AND NUMERACY INITIATIVE GOVERNMENT'S COMMITMENT ----------------------- A key outcome for excellence in public education is that every student is able to read, write, do math and comprehend at a high level by the age of 12. This is the age where a student is defining him or herself in terms of school success and beyond which acquiring these skills becomes increasingly harder. Having an education foundation will allow students the fullest range of choices in their academic career and beyond. Progress will be measured against the government's goal of 75 per cent of Grade 6 students reaching the provincial standard (Level 3 on the scale of 1 to 4) on province-wide reading, writing and math tests by 2008. Only 82,000, or slightly more than half of students, are currently achieving at this level today. We will help 31,000 more students who are currently struggling at Level 1 or 2 or below to move up. By Grade 10, there are still 23 per cent of Ontario students who are unable to pass a province-wide literacy test on their first try. Data from York Region suggests that most of the young adults who fail were already struggling in Grade 6. Students at Level 1 or Level 2 in reading had 10 times the likelihood of failing, compared to those who had achieved Level 3 or higher four years earlier. The government also intends to reduce the gap between the highest and lowest performing students. REDUCING CLASS SIZES -------------------- Class size reductions - $90 million Reducing class sizes in the primary grades (JK - Grade 3) is key to giving students the individual attention they need to improve in reading, writing and math. The government is providing $90 million for the upcoming school year to start lowering class size. School boards are expected to add 1,100 new primary teachers by September. The goal is to ensure that basic literacy and numeracy skills are realized by age 8. INTENSIVE TEACHER DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT ----------------------------------------- Teachers' professional development and resources - $44 million ------------------------------------------------------------------------- "This overwhelming body of evidence from independent researchers using different data and methodologies, and both experimental and quasi-experimental methods, clearly demonstrates that reducing class sizes in the early grades improves student achievement" The Class Size reduction program: Boosting School Achievement in Schools Across the Nation The US Department of Education, 2000 ------------------------------------------------------------------------- - Training this summer on reading and math instruction for up to 9,000 JK to Grade 3 teachers across Ontario; training of primary (JK - Grade 3) teachers during the next school year; - Training for 16,000 Lead Teachers on reading, writing and math instruction (half completed already) so they can provide on-site capacity and work with other classroom teachers in their schools; - Providing all teachers for the JK to Grade 6 years with specialized training guides and e-learning modules from TVO/TFO so they can use the best methods of instruction; - Early assessment tools for reading, writing and math so educators can find out in kindergarten which students may need extra help. FOCUSED CURRICULUM ------------------ Giving students the best tools to succeed - $15 million - $15 million in ongoing funding for new textbooks, computers and resource material to ensure that tools are up to date, providing students with cutting-edge resources and technology; - Amendments in expectations to enable a more intense daily focus on literacy and numeracy. TARGETED SUPPORTS ----------------- Addressing the needs of students who need extra help - $11 million - A special fund for innovative approaches based on best practices. The details of this fund will be available shortly; - Turnaround teams for 100 schools with the greatest challenges. A pilot project of 500 kids at 12 schools has helped to increase the number of high performing students by 100 per cent; - Targeted support for students who are struggling with low literacy and numeracy skills. CO-ORDINATED SUPPORT -------------------- A Provincial Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat will be operating by July. On May 26, the Premier and the Minister announced an $854 million increase in education funding for the next school year. This includes several specific areas designed to help students do better, including: - A $65 million increase in the Learning Opportunities Grant, which supports student success in both primary and secondary schools, including special classes, remedial assistance and a range of innovative approaches, particularly in reading and math; - An increase of $47 million to extend eligibility for English-as-a-second-language students to four years from the current three years; - $30 million increase in funding to offset the special challenges faced by Francophone students. Disponible en fran├žais www.edu.gov.on.caFor further information: Contacts: Amanda Alvaro, Minister's Office, (416) 325-2632, (416) 509-5696 (cell); Linda Nicolson, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2667; Public Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514; TTY: 1-800-263-2892