Royal Commission on Learning Report: Short Version

Royal Commission on Learning


Accountability

How can the public be reassured that the public education system is spending public funds and carrying out its mandate satisfactorily? And who's responsible? Those have become burning (and legitimate) questions for many Ontario citizens. The public has a right to know, and to be satisfied, that the system is operating effectively, efficiently, and equitably.

But this task, like so many others, is not as simple as some think. There are a large number of indicators of education success and quality, not just, as we've explained, how your child does on a particular test or report card. And the indicators for effectiveness, efficiency, and equity are themselves quite distinct from each other, and may even be in conflict. But having said the job's complicated, we insist it must be done.

While we're reluctant to suggest creating more bureaucracies, the need for independent and public scrutiny of the education system is paramount. For this purpose we're recommending a new body, an Office of Learning Assessment and Accountability, consisting of a small number of experts in education and assessment, and reporting directly to the Legislature. One of its chief responsibilities would be to evaluate and report on the success of Ontario's education policy primarily through the two universal literacy tests we've called for in Grades 3 and 11, as well as the Grade 3 numeracy test.

There are other tasks that would fall naturally to this new office. It would develop a series of indicators of the system's performance that the Ministry and boards would have to use. It would establish the guidelines for the contents of the Ministrys' and boards' annual reports. Also, to assure the public that all the information in these various reports is accurate and that the interpretations of the health of the system are defensible, the office should review them all and monitor the situation.

If it does its work properly and communicates its findings effectively, this modest office should go some way to reassuring Ontarians that their public education system is, at last, truly accountable to the public.

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