Research in Education

Ministry of Education's Research & Evaluation Strategy

Ontario Ministry of Education Research Strategy
(PDF, 246 KB)

  1. What is the ministry's Research & Evaluation Strategy?
  2. Why is the Research & Evaluation Strategy important?
  3. How is the Research & Evaluation Strategy being developed and implemented?
  4. What is the ADMs' Steering Committee?
  5. What is the role of the Chief Research Officer?
  6. What is the Ministry Research Coordination Team?
  7. What is the Ontario Education Research Panel?
  8. What is the Annual Education Research Symposium?
  9. What are MISA PNCs?
  10. What is the Evaluation and Research Learning Program?

1. What is the ministry's Research & Evaluation Strategy?

The priority educational goals of the Ontario Ministry of Education are:

  • improved levels of student achievement;
  • reduced gaps in student achievement; and
  • increased public confidence in, and support for, public education.

As a key strategy in advancing these goals, the ministry is committed to developing and implementing policies and programs that are evidence-based, research-informed and connected to the priority educational goals.

The Research & Evaluation Strategy comprises:

  • leading the ministry's research agenda to coordinate and manage ministry research activities to support provincial educational goals;
  • applying research and evaluation to support evidence-based policy and program decisions and practices;
  • building individual and organizational capacity to access, use and conduct research;
  • fostering research collaboration through networking and partnerships between and among ministry staff researchers and educators across Ontario, to address priority research needs;
  • communicating information about existing and new research activities and findings; and
  • contributing to the provincial, national and international body of research knowledge about educational policies, programs and practices.

2. Why is the Research & Evaluation Strategy important?

The ministry is committed to being evidence-based in the decisions we make, the policies we develop and the programs we implement. Good evidence includes the use of research and evaluation to inform our work. The ministry has an important role to play in developing, conducting, commissioning and communicating research connected to our priority goals.

Unfortunately, good quality education research does not always find its way into the hands of teachers and teaching assistants who work in the classroom, or to those who formulate education policy. Yet, we know that research can inform more effective practices that can result in improved student outcomes. Evidence from research and evaluation can also help to ensure resources are invested wisely and our future programs learn from the strengths and weaknesses of past approaches. Independent evaluation evidence also contributes to improving public confidence in the results we are achieving.

The Research & Evaluation Strategy is important because developing, applying and communicating about research and evaluation are central to our way of working and to achieving our priority goals.

3. How is the Research & Evaluation Strategy being developed and implemented?

Internally, the Ministry of Education is implementing a series of activities to effectively move the ministry to a place where evidence-based and research-informed policy and program development and decision-making is the norm.

These activities are intended to help ministry staff improve their ability to access, understand, commission and apply research and evaluation appropriately to inform policy and program decisions and to achieve our priority goals.

An intranet site is part of the series of capacity-building activities intended to support research-informed practices within the ministry. Both formal and informal networks of research contacts across the ministry are being developed.

Externally, the ministry is working collaboratively with educators, researchers and other key partners to engage each of these groups in connecting research to policy, program and practice.

Through the Ontario Education Research Panel, researchers and educators are linking up to identify research priorities, share findings, and collaborate on connecting research to practice. Both the research page on the ministry's public site and the annual Ontario Education Research Symposium are tools in helping make these connections.

The ministry's Research & Evaluation Strategy is moving forward within the ministry – and beyond – thanks to the concerted activities of a whole range of individuals and groups, all of whom are focused on the goals of: improved student achievement; reduced gaps in student achievement; and increased public confidence in public education.

4. What is the ADMs' Steering Committee?

The Assistant Deputy Ministers (ADMs) of the Ministry of Education meet on a regular basis to direct the ministry's research priorities to ensure they support the ministry's strategic directions and goals. The ADMs also ensure vertical, horizontal and collaborative alignment of research activities within their Divisions, across the ministry and with other ministries.

The ADMs' Steering Committee's terms of reference are to:

  • set the research agenda for the ministry by indicating priorities for significant research;
  • promote the use of research in informing policy directions and practices within the ministry and across the education sector;
  • ensure horizontal and collaborative alignment of research across the ministry and with other ministries and agencies as appropriate; and
  • direct activities, including necessary capacity building, in support of the ministry's Research & Evaluation Strategy

5. What is the role of the Chief Research Officer (CRO)?

This position within the Ministry of Education provides central leadership for the ministry's research and evaluation activities. The Chief Research Officer (CRO) develops and promotes the ministry's Research & Evaluation Strategy. The CRO works with the ADMs' Research Steering Committee to ensure research and evaluation activities are focused on the ministry's strategic goals. The CRO also fosters collaboration across the ministry, and with its partners, toward a shared commitment to research connected to policy, program and practice.

The CRO's terms of reference are:

  • Establishing and developing a central lead role to provide a strategic focus for research and evaluation activity across the Ministry of Education aligned with the ministry's strategic directions;
  • Coordinating the design and implementation of third-party evaluations of the ministry's priority activities and goals;
  • Providing strategic leadership for developing the ministry's communication and dissemination of research and evaluation activities and findings for internal and external purposes;
  • Leading a focused approach to future ministry-commissioned research and program evaluations relevant to the ministry's strategic directions;
  • Developing and promoting the ministry's Research & Evaluation Strategy internally and externally, including through participation in the ADMs' Research Steering Committee, the Ministry Research Coordination Team, the Ontario Education Research Panel, the Annual Research Symposium, and by building and maintaining further research connections internally and externally;
  • Providing strategic advice and recommendations to senior management on areas of research and evaluation activity related to ministry priorities, and for relevant interministerial and interjurisdictional activities;
  • Providing research expertise and strategic leadership to support the development of the ministry's research culture and internal research capacity building;
  • Overseeing the role and activities of graduate students with short-term placements in the ministry as part of the research capacity-building initiative.

The CRO is also a member of the Ministry Research Coordination Team and the Ontario Education Research Panel.

6. What is the Ministry Research Coordination Team?

This committee of staff from across the Ministry of Education promotes horizontal alignment within the ministry and with other ministries to identify collaborative research opportunities. The Chief Research Officer is a member of this team.

The terms of reference for the Ministry Research Coordination Team are to:

  • Provide information, recommendations and coordination support to the ADMs' Research Steering Committee and the ministry's Chief Research Officer to effectively implement components of the Research & Evaluation Strategy;
  • Communicate branch perspectives, activities and needs to inform the ongoing development and implementation of the Research & Evaluation Strategy and to report on its success/effectiveness;
  • Identify and respond to the internal capacity-building needs within the ministry by:
    • assessing the ministry' research and knowledge-sharing needs;
    • identifying gaps in knowledge or skills and developing recommendations and/or implementing strategies to address them;
    • creating new opportunities for sharing knowledge and effective practices across the ministry;
    • collecting and disseminating information on ministry research activities and priorities, and coordinating activities to build alignment; and
    • sponsoring professional development opportunities to respond to gaps in research capacity
  • Assist in the development of the ministry's research agenda
  • Promote horizontal alignment within the ministry and with other ministries/agencies and key stakeholders to identify synergies and collaborative research opportunities

The Team has embarked on a series of projects to build research and evaluation capacity within the ministry, including an internal capacity building plan. The Team has created a series of formal and informal networks, including identifying “research contacts” throughout the ministry. There are sub-groups of the Ministry Research Coordination Team working on various ways of communicating about research, in-service learning sessions for ministry staff, and a research component on both the ministry's Intranet and Internet sites.

7. What is the Ontario Education Research Panel (OERP)?

Individuals with rich backgrounds in education and research comprise this Panel. The Panel: promotes research and evaluation activities in Ontario; identifies research needs; fosters collaboration for integrating research, policy and practice; and shares examples of effective research-to-practice collaboration and communication. The Chief Research Officer is an ex-officio member of this group. Learn more

8. What is the Annual Education Research Symposium?

This symposium, held annually, brings together researchers, educators and policy makers within the research and education communities. It gives the participants opportunities to network, gain insights into existing research relative to ministry priorities, and identify gaps for future research. The Ontario Education Research Panel helps the ministry shape, plan and facilitate this symposium, and then encourages activity in the education research community in response to the themes coming out of the symposium. The ADMs' Steering Committee and Chief Research Officer provide senior direction about the priority themes for the Symposium. A staff-level planning committee is responsible for the development and delivery of this important event.

9. What are the MISA Professional Network Centres?

The Managing Information for Student Achievement (MISA) initiative is increasing both provincial and local capacity to work with data and information to support improved student outcomes. An important part of the local capacity building portion of the initiative includes supporting seven MISA Professional Network Centres (PNCs) across the province.

PNCs function as linked professional learning communities and complement the efforts of individual boards and schools. The Centres have helped boards and schools learn to manage and use data to support improved student achievement. Activities undertaken by the Centres include: promoting a healthy data culture in aid of evidence-informed decision-making; linking to the research community; and building research and evaluation capacity to inform classroom practice.

10. What is the Evaluation and Research (E+R) Learning Program?

The Evaluation and Research Learning Program, or E+R (delivered through the Human Resources Branch), is made up of six modules that aim to equip ministry staff and managers with the knowledge and ability to use research and evaluation effectively for decision-making regarding policies and programs. The participants are policy and program staff.