A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario
Vibrant communities and a prosperous society are built on the foundation of a strong education system. Today, Ontario's publicly funded education system – acknowledged as one of the best in the world – partners with parents, guardians and communities to develop graduates who are personally successful, economically productive and actively engaged citizens. We now have more high school graduates than ever before, and more students are meeting the high provincial academic standards than were a decade ago. Our graduates are also entering a world that is more competitive, globally connected and technologically engaged than in any other period in history. With a track record of success that we can build on, and with the opportunities available in a more interconnected world, the time has come for us to aim even higher.
That is why in fall 2013, individuals and organizations across the province came together to consider and discuss the skills and knowledge Ontario learners will need in the future. The government received input from representatives within the education system, including parents and students, teachers, support staff and school and system leaders, as well as input from individuals and groups outside the education sector, including businesses and non-profit organizations. Achieving Excellence is the result of their feedback.
Ontario is committed to the success and well-being of every student and child. Learners in the province's education system will develop the knowledge, skills and characteristics that will lead them to become personally successful, economically productive and actively engaged citizens.
Ontario will cultivate and continuously develop a high-quality teaching profession and strong leadership at all levels of the system. Our education system will be characterized by high expectations and success for all. It will be responsive, high quality, accessible and integrated from early learning and child care to adult education.
Together, we will build on past achievements and move forward with ambitious goals.
As Ontario embarks on a renewed vision of success for all learners, the province will build on a solid foundation. A decade ago, only 54 per cent of children in grades 3 and 6 met provincial standards in literacy and numeracy. That number has grown significantly, and today 71 per cent of grade 3 and 6 students are achieving our high provincial standards.1 In addition, only 68 per cent of students were graduating from high school a decade ago. Now, 83 per cent of students are graduating. That means there are an additional 138,000 high school graduates in Ontario because of the education reforms of the past 10 years.
1 Ontario's provincial standard is equivalent to a "B" grade.
Our renewed vision for education includes the valuable insights and contributions of many individuals and organizations, including representatives from the education, business, research and innovation, not-for-profit, municipal, multicultural, French language and Aboriginal communities. Time and again, our partners highlighted the innovation and creativity in teaching and learning that is already taking place in Ontario's classrooms. Spreading this approach across the entire education system will only be possible with the leadership and commitment of educators and the involvement of our many community partners, especially our learners and their families.
We know that change is never easy, and realizing the goals set out in Achieving Excellence will require the continued commitment of all of our partners. However, the evidence of the past decade demonstrates that our education system is capable of making real, positive change. We know that in order to build a better system we need to value the work of all education professionals – early childhood educators, teachers, support staff, school and system leaders and administrators. We also know that policy decisions and the allocation of resources have to be guided by evidence and research. It is through these principles that we have seen success in the past, and these principles will continue to guide us in the future as we develop more rigorous, relevant and innovative approaches to learning.
Achieving Excellence builds on the education system's three current priorities: increasing student achievement, closing gaps in student achievement and increasing public confidence in publicly funded education. It encompasses these goals and reaches deeper and broader, raising expectations both for the system and for the potential of our children and students.
Our renewed goals for education are:
These four goals are interconnected – success in one contributes to success in the others. Our progress over the last 10 years tells us that when educators, students, parents and guardians, and our many other partners focus on a small number of clearly defined goals, those goals can be achieved.
The world is changing rapidly. That is why Achieving Excellence challenges the education sector in Ontario to transform to meet the expectations of today and build the vibrant, prosperous province of tomorrow. Through this renewed vision, Ontario is setting its sights on a comprehensive and continuous education system that supports children all the way from birth to adulthood. It will be a system that recognizes well-being as an instrumental factor in students' academic success, and promotes greater equity to ensure that all students can be their best.
This is an exciting and inspiring time for education in Ontario. Our past accomplishments have built a strong foundation for future success. We have so much to be proud of, and now is the time to aspire to even greater accomplishments for all of our learners.
By raising expectations for what our education system can accomplish, Achieving Excellence can help uncover and develop the potential of all learners. It will reveal learner's hidden gifts and spark new passions for future careers. We can develop compassionate and actively engaged citizens who graduate high school equipped for the technology-driven, globalized world. They will be well-rounded individuals who have not only strong basic skills but also the critical thinking skills, imagination and resilience to excel in – and create – the new jobs of tomorrow.
This renewed vision for the future of education in Ontario sets ambitious goals. We know these goals are achievable because we have proved over the past decade that by working together with a common purpose we can help our students reach new heights of success. At the core of Achieving Excellence is a commitment to collaborative, continuous learning among educators, leaders and government. Combined with broad partnerships with families, communities and businesses, all working together, we can create a system that is even more accessible, integrated and responsive – one that will give our children the knowledge and skills they need to succeed and the confidence to embrace the challenges of the future.
By working together, we can make Achieving Excellence a reality. We can give all of our children the opportunity to reach their potential. We can support their success inside and outside of the classroom. And we can build a better province for all Ontarians.