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Education that Works for You - Modernizing Classrooms

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Education that Works for You - Modernizing Classrooms

Province Modernizing Classrooms

Ministry of Education

Today, Ontario's Government for the People announced its plan to modernize classrooms across the province.

To better prepare students for the demands of the future, the Province's plan modernizes classrooms in a number of innovative ways.

Technology (Broadband)

Digital skills are essential for everyone to be able to safely and effectively use technology. These skills are also needed as students advance in their education journey, and eventually enter the workplace. Broadband is foundational for supporting modernized digital learning in the classroom.

That is why all Ontario students and educators will have access to reliable, fast, secure and affordable internet services at school at a speed of one megabit per-second for every student in all regions of the province. The project will be completed by 2021-22, and will include all boards, schools and students.

This will give students access to technology that will better develop their digital skills and will provide quality broadband service for students in rural and northern communities.

To complete this project, the needs of each school will be individually assessed and then individual technical solutions will be implemented. Broadband expansion is underway at a majority of northern and rural schools. Already 32 per cent of northern schools have completed their upgrades, and 35 per cent of rural schools have been completed.

This strategy and vision was developed by the Ministry of Education, and follows a broader government vision for broadband expansion across the province.

This infrastructure will support enhanced e-learning opportunities and access for students to the ministry's Virtual Learning Environment wherever educational resources are available.

E-learning

The government is committed to modernizing education and supporting students and families in innovative ways that enhance their success. A link to e-learning courses can be found here: www.edu.gov.on.ca/elearning/courses.html.

Starting in 2020-21, the government will centralize the delivery of all e-learning courses to allow students greater access to programming and educational opportunities, no matter where they live in Ontario.

Secondary students will take a minimum of four e-learning credits out of the 30 credits needed to fulfill the requirements for achieving an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. That is equivalent to one credit per year, with exemptions for some students on an individualized basis. These changes will be phased in, starting in 2020-21. 

With these additional modernizations, the secondary program enhancement grant will no longer be required. 

Cellphones

During the consultation on education reform in fall 2018, parents, students and teachers told us cellphones have the potential to be useful learning tools — but too often they are a distraction from learning and have a negative impact on the classroom experience.

In response to this feedback, the Provincial Code of Conduct will be updated to prohibit cellphone use in schools during instructional time, as of September 2019.

Use of cellphones during instructional time will be permitted under the following circumstances:

  • For educational purposes, as directed by the educator.
  • For health and medical purposes.
  • To support students with special education needs.

Boards and stakeholders will be consulted to ensure students and parents are clear on the new guidelines, including exceptions.

The Provincial Code of Conduct sets clear provincial standards of behaviour. All school boards must ensure that their board codes of conduct are up to date and consistent with the provincial Code of Conduct.

EQAO

The government is working with the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) to modernize the agency and its processes, while using data to build better assessment and evaluation models that have a greater focus on equity.

EQAO is a leading authority for measuring school system performance and it is critical that their insights are maximized. The government will work with EQAO on promising themes in education:

  • Transferable skills like collaboration, problem-solving and citizenship.
  • Supporting greater parent engagement.
  • Using digital platforms for student learning, assessment and evaluation.
  • Learning from other high-performing education jurisdictions.
  • Assessing learning in ways that feel comfortable for students.
  • Providing useful feedback to teachers and parents.

Student achievement is one of the keys to success in a competitive global economy. EQAO can provide vital data and research to reinvigorate education in Ontario, help improve student learning at the provincial, board and school level, and help identify achievement gaps to promote greater equity in the publicly funded education system.

Class Sizes

The government is committed to supporting students and families, and modernizing education funding in a responsible manner.

The ministry has consulted with education partners to modernize and improve Ontario's education system and sought input on the Grants for Student Needs funding formula, followed by a consultation on class sizes from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

The ministry held in-person meetings in January 2019 with the teachers' federations, trustees' associations and education worker unions to gather feedback. School boards, principals/vice-principals' associations and other education sector partners were also invited to provide written feedback by February 22, 2019.

Ontario currently has one of the lowest student-to-teacher ratios among Canadian provinces that have restrictions on class sizes. To better balance student success and system sustainability, the government is proposing a measured approach to changes in class sizes.

Our government will protect the current framework for class size caps for students from Kindergarten to Grade 3.

We look forward to continued advice and consultation with our education partners to help shape our vision. The proposed changes for 2019-20 are as follows:

  • Kindergarten - no changes to the class size caps.
  • Primary (grades 1 to 3) - primary class size caps remain in place. There are no proposed changes to either the caps or the average class size requirements. 
  • Intermediate (grades 4 to 8) - all school boards would be required to maintain a board-wide average class size of 24.5 or less, while the funded average class size would be minimally increased from 23.84 to 24.5. This would standardize funding and class sizes across the province, as historically there was variability for these grades.
  • Secondary (grades 9 to 12) - average class size requirements adjusted from 22 to 28 students to align secondary class sizes more closely to other jurisdictions across Canada. School boards would be required to maintain a board-wide average class size of 28 or less and the funded average class size would be increased to 28 to support this change. In addition, school operations funding would be adjusted accordingly.

The proposed changes in class size would be phased in, with attrition protection.

To provide families, staff, and school boards with certainty on the government's direction, the government will move forward on next steps, including any required legislation, in time for the next school year.

Hiring Practices

Ontario Regulation 274/12, under the Education Act, establishes mandatory processes that all English-language school boards must follow when hiring long-term occasional and permanent teachers. These processes prioritize seniority, rather than specific skills or previous performance, as the most important criteria in hiring.

However, since the regulation was implemented in 2012, stakeholders, including parents, principals, directors of education and teachers, have raised concerns about the regulation - such as increased principal workload and classroom teacher turnover.

The ministry held in-person meetings in January 2019 with the teachers' federations, trustees' associations and education worker unions to gather feedback. Stakeholders were also invited to provide written feedback. The ministry received 80 written submissions from stakeholders and the public. The majority of submissions were supportive of increased teacher mobility.

To address these concerns, the government's objective is to work with its education partners to improve teacher mobility, while increasing transparency, fairness, consistency and accountability in teacher hiring across all school boards. Ontario's students deserve the best teacher available in each and every classroom, and principals should be empowered to hire teachers based on merit and fit for the role.

Grants for Student Needs

The Province invests in our publicly funded education system through the Grants for Student Needs (GSN), which is the provincial funding formula for Ontario's school boards. 

The GSN is a collection of grants described in detail in an annual regulation under the Education Act.

Funding allocations for school boards are generated based on a variety of factors, including on a per-pupil, per-school, or per-board basis depending on the structure of each grant within the GSN regulation.

The government undertook a comprehensive review of the GSN and engaged in an in-depth consultation with stakeholders as the long-term success of Ontario's publicly funded education system depends on sustainable funding that is focused on students and the classroom.  

As a result of the review and feedback received from stakeholders, the 2019-20 GSN will reflect modest changes focusing on providing the resources to support outcomes for students and a sustainable funding model that can deliver for years to come.

While adjustments will be made to the following components of GSN funding, it is important to note that key program areas will not be changed, specifically to special education and student transportation funding.

Local Priorities Fund

The Local Priorities Fund (LPF), first established in 2017-18 during the last round of collective bargaining, expires on August 31, 2019. Whether the funding for staffing is extended is an issue subject to the upcoming central collective bargaining process. The increases related to salary will continue, as well as the principals' and vice-principals' funding, which is not set to expire until August 31, 2020.

Cost Adjustment Allocation

Historically, the base amount of the Cost Adjustment Allocation was providing supplemental funding for education worker benchmarks. As school boards have flexibility through other grants in the GSN to address their staffing needs, this amount has been discontinued for the 2019-20 school year.

Human Resource Transition Supplement

The Human Resource Transition Supplement was intended to be a temporary support to assist school boards with the negotiated 2017-19 agreements. This temporary transitional supplement amount has been discontinued for the 2019-20 school year.

Classroom Loading Factors

To reflect the proposed secondary class size changes, the factors that determine the amount of funding for the operation of school facilities will be adjusted.

Utilities Funding

As in previous years, funding will be increased to support increased costs associated with the heating and lighting of school facilities.

Student Transportation Funding

As in previous years, funding will be increased to support higher costs associated with student transportation. Also, additional funding supports are planned for school boards that run efficient transportation operations, but for which the costs of student transportation exceed the funding provided for that purpose. 

Finally, the ministry intends to undertake a review of the student transportation funding formula in order to achieve a more efficient and accountable student transportation system in Ontario.

These proposed changes are part of Ontario's new vision for education: Education that Works for You. The new vision will modernize Ontario's classrooms and provide students with more learning opportunities to prepare them for success in post-secondary education, apprenticeship and training, and the workforce. 

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