Achieving Excellence: Enhancing Public Confidence

Goal: Enhancing Public Confidence in Publicly funded Education

Over the past decade, confidence in publicly funded education has grown as teachers, support staff, parents and school boards see the results of hard work and targeted investments. In Ontario, the high school graduation rate has increased 15 percentage points over the past 10 years, while overall student performance on EQAO assessments has improved by 17 percentage points. These results, combined with the ongoing dedication of individuals and groups across the education sector, have resulted in greater confidence in publicly funded education. The goal is to ensure that this confidence is not only maintained, but enhanced.

An education system that is sustainable, responsible, accountable and transparent inspires public confidence and contributes to positive student outcomes. Public trust is built when the education system makes decisions based on evidence and research, and when it is seen as a good steward of public resources. With recent changes to national data collection, we will need to work even more closely with partners, especially school boards, to ensure that accurate, up-to-date information, such as socio-economic and demographic data, is available to make the best decisions for Ontario children and students. Achieving Excellence adheres to these principles while creating the conditions for excellence, equity and child and student well-being. Resources will continue to be focused on what makes a difference for children and students in each of the priority areas.

Parents and guardians are a critical component of ensuring public confidence in the education system. Parents who are engaged and actively involved in their child's learning make Ontario's great schools even stronger. Most importantly, students are more likely to succeed when their parents are engaged in their learning, and with more students succeeding, public confidence in the education system can be enhanced.

By raising our expectations for what student success means in Ontario, while dedicating resources where there is the greatest need, we will meet and work to exceed Ontarians' high expectations of the education system.

Why We Need to Do This

Ontarians want to have confidence in the ability of our publicly funded education system – from the ministry to the school board to the classroom – to meet the needs of our children. The consultation on a renewed vision for Ontario's education system revealed a tremendous confidence in our ability to set and achieve ambitious goals. Ninety-five per cent of Ontario children attend a publicly funded school – a testament to the confidence of parents and families across the province.

Our education system is consistently recognized as one of the best in the world, and for good reason. This international recognition also builds confidence among Ontario's parents and families, who have come to expect extraordinary results. This success has been achieved in partnership with educators, support staff and leaders who are committed to innovation and improvement in teaching and learning. Ontario benefits greatly from the high-quality teaching and education professionals who work in our schools.

Parents and guardians have also been a critical part of our success in education. We know that good schools become great schools when parents are engaged in their child's learning, and over the past number of years there have been more opportunities for parents to become engaged, both at the local and the provincial level. Parents Reaching Out Grants have helped parents come together in their communities to discuss local priorities, while Parent Involvement Committees are ensuring that the parent perspective is incorporated into provincial policies. While these have been extremely successful, we need to consider how to give even more parents opportunities to engage in their child's learning in the future.

To move forward, we need to ensure that the allocation of resources in the education system continues to be efficient and effective. We must also continue to support our educators in their professional learning, ensuring they remain proud members of a profession that is crucial to the future prosperity of our province. At the same time, we must continue to explore new and creative avenues for parents to engage in their child's learning.

Plan of Action

To achieve success, Ontario will:

  • Give our students a solid education in the basics and beyond, to help develop well-rounded young adults who are ready for their future.
  • Improve our initial teacher education programs to ensure that high-quality professionals are prepared to be successful in the complex classrooms of today.
  • Partner with community organizations and businesses to provide students with more experiential learning opportunities.
  • Ensure that school buildings and classrooms provide positive learning environments for all students.
  • Promote greater collaboration between early years and education partners.
  • Foster increased parent engagement through ongoing communication about what their children are doing in school and how parents, guardians and caregivers can further contribute to their learning.
  • Work with the Open Government initiative to provide the public with relevant information about Ontario's publicly funded education system.
  • Increase public awareness and understanding of the innovation and learning taking place in schools.
  • Collaborate with education partners across the province to ensure that this renewed vision becomes a reality.
  • Broaden the measures of success and the use of perceptual and demographic data (e.g., perceptual surveys) so that program and service enhancements address the specific needs of students who continue to struggle.

To assess progress towards this goal, Ontario will:

  • Continue to monitor the percentage of children who attend a publicly funded school.
  • Determine how many students across Ontario take advantage of increased experiential learning opportunities through cooperative education with community organizations and businesses.
  • Work with boards to measure public perception through regular surveys and focus groups.

Promising Practices for the Future

At Halton's Our Kids Network, members believe that the entire community – including the public and private sectors -shares in the responsibility for achieving the conditions for well-being among children and families. The work of Our Kids Network is focused on child development from birth to 18 years, and is founded on evidence-based strategic directions. Sector leaders from education, government, health, mental health and special needs, along with police services and the multicultural community, provide direction and planning. By integrating and aligning services, Our Kids Network provides leadership and support to help children and the community thrive.

What we Heard

There is nothing more exciting than a teacher who is passionate about teaching and learning. It is this enthusiasm that inspires and engages students.
   – Student consultation participant

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