McGuinty government to boost literacy in Ontario schools

Archived Release

McGuinty government to boost literacy in Ontario schools

Ministry of Education

Acclaimed Children's Author Robert Munsch Leads Tour TORONTO, Sept. 8 - Education Minister Gerard Kennedy was joined by popular children's author Robert Munsch on a reading tour to highlight the government's progress on student literacy and numeracy and celebrate International Literacy Day today. "Literacy and numeracy are the foundation of a successful education," said Kennedy. "Starting this school year, we are supporting our students and teachers in ways that have never been done before. We want parents to know that in schools across the province, educators are helping students improve results and that we are going to build on that good work." The McGuinty government's goal is to see 75 per cent of 12-year-olds reaching the provincial standard on provincewide reading, writing and math tests by 2008. Only 82,000, or slightly more than half of students, are achieving that standard today. In June, the government announced $160 million in new resources for the "Education Foundations" Program to assist more students each year reach high levels in reading, writing, comprehension and math. The investment is already showing results: - Smaller classes in the primary grades in over 1,300 Ontario elementary schools - Providing over 7,500 JK to Grade 3 teachers with the latest teaching resources and techniques to help students improve their reading, writing and math skills through the government's summer literacy and numeracy training program - Placing 8,000 additional specially trained JK to Grade 3 Lead Teachers in schools across the province and beginning to train an additional 8,000 Lead Teachers for Grades 4 to 6 - E-learning modules for elementary teachers and principals this September - Over 30,000 specialized training guides in reading and math for all kindergarten to Grade 3 teachers in September. The reading tour made stops at a number of elementary schools in Toronto, Burlington, Guelph and Hamilton. "Reading stories out loud to children is one of the best ways to get them interested in reading," said Munsch, who is one of North America's best- selling children's authors. "I love reading stories to children. This tour is an opportunity to connect with them and to show my support for literacy worldwide." Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- September 8, 2004 EDUCATION FOUNDATIONS PROGRAM MEANS RESULTS FOR STUDENTS Government's Commitment ----------------------- Through its Education Foundations program announced in June, the McGuinty government has committed to provide excellence in education for all Ontario students. The government's goal is that 75 per cent of 12-year-olds achieve the provincial standard on provincewide reading, writing and math tests by 2008. Slightly over half are reaching this level today. The government's investment in the Education Foundations program is designed to boost students' literacy and numeracy skills. It has begun delivering the following results for students this fall: Reducing Class Sizes -------------------- Reducing class sizes in the primary grades (JK to Grade 3) is key to giving students the personal attention they need to improve in reading, writing and math. The government committed $90 million for this school year to start lowering class sizes and allocated the funds on a board-by-board basis back in June. This investment has resulted in more teachers in 38 per cent of Ontario's elementary schools this September: - More than 1,100 new teachers - Over 1,300 schools with smaller classes in the primary grades. School boards will submit final reports to the Ministry of Education in December, detailing further updates and results. Intensive Teacher Development and Support ----------------------------------------- Summer Training Over 7,500 JK to Grade 3 teachers volunteered to take part in the government's summer literacy and numeracy training program. Approximately 250 sessions were held at over 120 locations across the province. In these sessions, teachers focused on how to effectively use proven instructional strategies, like reading aloud and guided reading, to help young children develop their reading and comprehension skills. They also examined key mathematical concepts, such as counting, that students need to master for the later grades. Training for 16,000 Lead Teachers Training for 8,000 new Lead Teachers on reading, writing and math instruction for Grades 4 to 6 will begin this fall. On-going training for the existing 8,000 kindergarten to Grade 3 lead teachers will continue as well. The government's goal is to have four lead teachers in every elementary school in the province so they can provide expert advice and work with other classroom teachers in their schools. E-Learning Modules E-learning modules, developed in partnership with TVO/TFO, will be available this September to elementary teachers and principals. Three modules, available in both English and French, focus on reading, math and leadership. The modules are available on-line and have received positive reviews. Teacher Training Guides Over 30,000 specialized training guides in reading and math will be distributed to all kindergarten to Grade 3 teachers in September. Training materials include: - Two guides in effective instruction in mathematics - Big Ideas - Number Sense and Numeration - A Guide to Effective Instruction in Reading More materials are currently in development and will be rolled out over the course of the school year. Targeted Supports ----------------- $65 Million Increase to Learning Opportunities Grant Ontario school boards will receive an additional $65 million in funding to assist students who struggle the most to improve their achievement in the next school year. The entire grant, including dedicated funds for literacy and numeracy and preventing high school students from dropping out, will now total $520.7 million for 2004-05. The Learning Opportunities Grant supports student success in both primary and secondary schools through special classes, remedial assistance and a range of innovative approaches, particularly in reading and math. It is designed to help students from low-income families, single-parent families, families with low parental education and families that have recently immigrated to Canada. These students have been shown to be more at risk of academic difficulties. Disponible en fran├žais www.edu.gov.on.caFor further information: Amanda Alvaro, Minister's Office, (416) 325-2632, (416) 509-5696 (cell); Wilma Davis, Communications Branch, (416) 325-6730; Public Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514; TTY: 1-800-263-2892