Tag Archives: Ontario

The Future of Education in Ontario: G2Echat…So Far

13 Oct

Next Phase

Over the past 3 weeks I’ve been moderating a Saturday morning twitter chat to provide an online forum for Ontarians to participate in “From Great To Excellent“, the Ontario government’s public consultation into education in the province. The consultation challenges Ontarians to consider 7 Questions and give the government feedback on the about the future of education.

The format of the chat is fairly simply. We consider 2 questions each week. After the question is introduced we discuss it for 25 minutes and then participants submit a response to the question, all via the 140-character magic of the tweet box.

After three weeks it felt like it was time to draw some of these discussion together in some sort of format to share with other interested folks. Below are the questions, as posed, and clicking on those questions will take you to a storify of the entire G2Echat on that topic.

My hope is that presenting them this way might cause other to think more deeply about questions, to find their own way to respond to the public consultation or to join us for our final #G2EChat on Saturday October 19th at 9 am. Twitter chats are fun, fast moving and fairly informal, so no need to be shy 🙂

#G2EChat One

g2eq1

In our first chat we discussed Question 1: “What are the skills, knowledge and characteristics students need to succeed after they have completed school, and how do we better support all learners in their development?” and Question 2: “What does student well-being mean to you, and what is the role of the school in supporting it?”. I clearly had some time on my hands because I separately storified the submission statements to Question 1 and Question 2.

#G2EChat Two

G2eq3

In our second chat we discussed Question 3: “From your perspective, what further opportunities exist to close gaps and increase equity to support all children and students in reaching their full potential?” and Question 4: “How does the education system need to evolve as a result of changes to child care and the implementation of full-day kindergarten?”. The answers to the questions were separately storified.

#G2EChat 3

g2eq5

In the first half of our third chat we considered Question 5: “What more can we all do to keep students engaged, foster their curiosity and creativity, and help them develop a love of life-long learning?”.

g2eq6

We then went on to consider Question 6: “How can we use technology more effectively in teaching and learning?”.

What’s Next?

The final #G2EChat is scheduled for October 19th at 9 am and we will discuss Question 7: “In summary, what are the various opportunities for partnership that can enhance the student experience, and how can they benefit parents, educators and our partners too?” and also take some time to reflect on the consultation process and add any new thoughts to the previous questions. After that the discussions and statement will be submitted to the Ministry for consideration.

It’s been a great experience for me, seeing Ontarians willing to freely give up a portion of the Saturday morning to discuss these questions and contribute. The response to the chats has been fantastic and we’ve had over 200 participants in the first 3 chats in spite of some busy weekends.

I think even a cursory glance at the chat transcripts will show that these are very insightful and thoughtful people who care a lot about education in Ontario. I’m proud to be one of them, and no matter what the future holds education in Ontario is in excellent hands.

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#G2EChat Question 1: Recap

29 Sep

On September 28th I invited anyone interested to join me online and participate in the Ministry of Education’s “From Great to Excellent” public consultation process. Over 4 weeks we’ll consider all seven questions, discuss them and prepare something for submission to The Ministry. This is my effort at capturing some of that discussion:

We started our first G2EChat with a restated version of the first question:

The first response identified that learning skills are what students need to be successful, not content knowledge, a thread that was supported throughout the discussion:

We also recognized that there’s a tension between meeting the needs of students now and preparing them for their future:

And that this ‘future’ is increasingly uncertain:

We acknowledged that curriculum needs to support the view that content is really just a vehicle for learning these important learning skills and in Ontario, this change is starting to happen:

But the curriculum needs to continue to evolve to a point where traditional subject divisions are less important than student passion:

After 30 minutes of discussion these were the responses submitted to Question 1.  Here is the complete discussion in its entirety.

Does Liz Sandals Hate Twitter?

9 Jun

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” spoken by Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

On June 6-8 the Ontario Public School Boards Association held their annual general meeting in Muskoka. As a taxpayer and an educator it was enlightening to be able to follow the twitter stream of the conference, monitored by the excellent OPSBA staff, and see what delegates were doing, thinking and saying. Trustees are increasingly using twitter and it gives a layer of transparency and accountability to what they do and allows others to engage with them. In the course of the conference I agreed, disagreed and asked questions about what was going on, all through twitter.

One of the highlights of the conference was an address to the OPSBA by the Minister of Education, Liz Sandals. Minister Sandals is a past president of OPSBA (1998 – 2002) and so understands the organization well. She was there, however, as the representative of a government that had significantly undermined the role of school boards in Ontario through it’s handling of collective bargaining in 2012 and Bill 115.

Unfortunately the Minister was not a contributor to the #OPSBAAGM twitter feed in any way because, unlike her predecessor Laurel Broten and a long list of other liberal MPPs (including leader Kathleen Wynne) Liz Sandals isn’t on twitter. This in itself may not be a big deal. Most people recognize that while a politician may have a twitter account it is often a political aide who is doing the tweeting. However, when it comes to using twitter the lack of an @LizSandals account may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Anyone who followed Laurel Broten quickly learned that it was also a good idea to follow Paris Meilleur, her Director of Communications, for other education related tweets. Paris often explained issues, provided other contexts and engaged with Ontarians about education. I don’t know whether Minister Sandals has a director of communications (I assume she does) but whoever it is, they, or any other members of her staff, don’t use twitter in a professional capacity.

(Correction: Found out through Caroline Alphonso at The Globe & Mail that the Minister of Education’s press secretary is Lauren Ramey and she is on twitter. Lauren says she is trying to be more active on twitter)

Another layer to this is to look at what has happened to the official twitter account of the Ontario Ministry of Education (@OntarioEDU) since Liz Sandals became the Minister in mid-February. It seemed that since then there haven’t been as many @OntarioEDU tweets in my timeline. My quick and dirty research revealed that there are about half as many tweets on the @OntarioEDU account as under the previous minister (an average of 9.7 tweets/week vs 19.5/week). There are innocent explanations for this. Maybe it’s taking them a while to get organized. Perhaps, because of the “Bill 115 Crisis”, the previous staff were tweeting more.

Nevertheless the combination of a minister and staff with no twitter presence and a ministry that’s tweeting less suggests a change in attitudes towards twitter. So what? Does it really matter if the minister and ministry uses twitter? I think it does.

Education issues in Ontario are increasingly discussed and ideas are shared on twitter. It’s an incredibly meritocratic space where ‘who you are’ doesn’t matter as much as the quality of your ideas. That’s why trustees, directors, principals, parents, students and educators are increasingly connecting on twitter. If the minister and the ministry have a reduced or no presence they’ll miss out on that discussion and exchange of ideas.

That’s a critical error and a missed opportunity to engage with Ontarians about education. When the minister says she “…wants to hear from education stakeholders, parents, students and members of the business, research and innovation, not-for-profit and Aboriginal communities…” about education in Ontario, that’s exactly the people who are discussing education on twitter. A refusal to engage with people where the discussion is should make us question her interest in hearing what Ontarians really think.

Over 90% of high school students, and an increasing number of elementary students, use social media daily. When the minister says she want to discuss  with Ontarians “How can we use technology more effectively in teaching and learning?” mobile devices and social media must be a big part of that. How can the minister effectively administer Ontario’s education system and discuss student use of technology if she isn’t conversant in how social media works? She can’t really understand how social media changes the way you think about things unless she’s actually used it.

In an effort to help I extend an open invitation to meet with the minister and help to get her up and running on twitter. I’ll pay my way to wherever she is and I’m sure that within an hour or two I can get her tweeting. I know she probably has people on staff who can help her, but it can be embarrassing to reveal your ignorance to someone you work with (believe me, I know).

I encourage the minister to do something we ask our students to do every day. Step into the unknown, take a chance and try something new. It would serve as a great example to all Ontarians of how we all, no matter who we are, have to take chances and try new things. It would also signal a genuine willingness to engage with Ontarians about education.


Shhhhh!! Ontario’s “Secret” Public Consultation into Education

4 Jun

Next Phase

June 30th 2013 marks the end of the most turbulent year in Ontario Education in over a decade. The imposition of Bill 115 has, for better or worse, politicized education in Ontario. Parents, students, educators and members of the general public are discussing education issues with passion and conviction.

Now would be a perfect time to tap into that engagement and open a dialogue about what Ontarians really want from their education system. What do we value? How should it be working? Coincidentally there WILL be a public consultation about Ontario education, but if the Ministry of Education really wants to hear from all Ontarians they have a funny way of showing it.

On May 30th Liz Sandals, The Minister of Education, “announced” that there will be a consultation into ‘building the next phase in Ontario’s education strategy’. Announced is an overstatement, because news of this ‘public consultation’ wasn’t widely shared. Whispered is more apt. There was no press conference and no press release. A search on the Ministry of Education’s website will not uncover any mention. However some Ontarians got personal invitations to participate (hint: not me).

On June 1st I got the digital equivalent of a brown manilla envelope stuffed into my e-mail box directing me to a dusty page on the Ministry of Education’s website that lists ministry policy memos. Posted there is a letter from the minister to ‘education stakeholders’ and a document titled “Building The Next Phase in Ontario’s Education Strategy” that explains what a great job the government is doing with the education system, how the public consultation process will take place and giving seven ‘key questions’ to guide the discussion. Stakeholders are encouraged to ponder these questions over the summer and be ready to discuss in the Fall.

I was confused. As an educator, a parent of three children in the education system and a writer about education don’t I count as a ‘stakeholder’? If not me, who does count and why?

After reading the document a few questions and reflections coalesced:

  • Why The Secrecy? If the ministry is truly interested in “…feedback from a broad range of individuals and groups…” why wasn’t the process publicly announced? I understand the document was sent to trustees and directors of education. Why? What about everybody else?

  • What is an “education stakeholder”? I see everyone as an education stakeholder. Our collective future depends on our public education system so isn’t it in everyone’s best interest to have the best possible system? Apparently the ministry sees education stakeholders as a few select people on their mailing list. If only there was some sort of mass information system they could use to inform everyone about the consultation process. Hmmm…

  • Why Do We Have EQAO? For anyone who asked me this question over the past month, you need wonder no more. The main function of EQAO is to allow the ministry to make statements like this:

“Ten years ago, only 68% of our students were graduating, and only 54% of children in grades 3 and 6 were achieving at the provincial standard in literacy and numeracy. Today, those numbers stand at 83% and 70% respectively, and they continue to climb.”

  • Any discussions about using EQAO to improve learning is merely window dressing. EQAO is a tool that allows the government to show how well (or in the case of the Mike Harris government how badly) public education is doing. EQAO scores are the primary evidence of how Ontario’s public education system has improved. And we know how accurate and reliable EQAO scores are.
  • The Process: The document discusses wanting to hear from “…education stakeholders, parents, students and members of the business, research and innovation, not-for-profit and Aboriginal communities…” and mentions “groups and individuals”. However later it mentions the minister will be holding consultations in Toronto for provincially focussed groups and regionally for regionally focussed groups. It also mentions that there will be some ‘digital only’ sessions and an opportunity to participate via e-mail. It seems as if the minister is really only interested in meeting with groups. That’s too bad. Groups homogenize opinion and reduce the breadth of possible input. There’s many individuals who want to make their voice heard and not have to funnel it through an organization to give it legitimacy.

The Seven Questions:

Here are the seven guiding questions for the public consultation with my initial reflections:

1) What are the skills, knowledge and characteristics students need to succeed after they have completed school, and how do we better support all learners in their development?

The first question in our education strategy is about preparing students to be workers. It could be reworded as “Are we producing good future employees?”. Is this really where we should be starting? Is this the first thing we should be considering about our education system? Not maximizing students’ potential or helping them to fulfill their dreams but will they meet the province’s economic needs. I’m disappointed.

2) What does student well-being mean to you, and what is the role of the school in supporting it?

I’m glad to see this as part of the discussion. We need to better address student’s mental and physical health needs and understand their impact on learning. We don’t educate children in isolation and an unhealthy child is not able to learn well.

 3) From your perspective, what further opportunities exist to close gaps and increase equity to support all children and students in reaching their full potential?

 Another critical discussion we need to be having. We must move away from a system of equality to one of equity. In an education system where resources are limited, why are we directing the same resources to all students regardless of need? Students aren’t equal so why do we fund them that way? A student from a middle or high income family doesn’t need the same level of support as one from a low-income family. We need to address this on a provincial, systemic basis. I’d like to see the introduction of a weighted funding formula for education in Ontario.

4) How does the education system need to evolve as a result of changes to child care and the implementation of full-day kindergarten?

This confuses me. I assumed that given the commitment and money spent on Full Day Kindergarten there was some sort of long-term plan in place. This suggests a sort of “Oh, we’ve got FDK, now what?” approach. That’s concerning.

5) What more can we all do to keep students engaged, foster their curiosity and creativity, and help them develop a love of life-long learning?

This should be the first question, not the fifth. This is the mission statement of a progressive education system. A foundational idea. If we can accomplish this, everything else will fall into place. Bravo!!

6) How can we use technology more effectively in teaching and learning?

This is the mandatory Ed Tech question. It is now illegal to discuss education unless you mention technology once. I suspect this is something The OPSBA pushed hard for at the round table seeing as they’d spent money on their new report. I support the vision presented but ask the same question as when the report was published. Who is going to pay for it? Digital technology should be an essential part of our education system but it requires an investment and nobody seems willing to make that investment. If you want to put tech in schools you’ve got to show me the money.

7) What are the various opportunities for partnership that can enhance the student experience, and how can they benefit parents, educators and our partners too?

Not sure what this really is but it feels like a discussion of how can we involve private enterprise more in public education. The reason we seek partnerships is that we want to do things but don’t have the necessary resources. We must remember that, as the old saying goes, “There’s no free lunch”. Enterprises we enter into partnership with aren’t primarily interested in students or their learning. They’re interested in making money. Effective partnerships result from an exchange of value. Let’s be clear and aware of what we’re giving up and what we’re getting in return and remember it’s our job to put students first.

What’s Missing?

Some questions I’m surprised not to see there:

  • What is the role of standardized testing in Ontario’s education system?
  • What is the role of school boards and trustees in Ontario’s education system?
  • What is a fair and effective system of collective bargaining in Ontario’s education system?
  • What role should faith play in Ontario’s public education system?

Those are my first, off the cuff, reactions and responses. I’ll keep discussing and pontificating and prepare myself to participate fully in the government’s “public consultation”. I urge all Ontarians to do likewise. It’s time for an “Education Spring” in Ontario. This may be our opening.

Acronyms and Hashtags for Ontario Education

28 May

A few in Ontario education have expressed the need for a list of commonly used acronyms and hashtags for Ontario education. Expressing ideas in 140 character bursts often means using short forms, but they can be confusing for the new or uninitiated. A few of us decided to pitch in (crowdsource it) and see if we could put together a beginning list.

What you see below are the results of work by Tracy Bachellier (@bactrac), Sheila Stewart (@sheilaspeaking), Jacqui Strachan (@JacquiStrachan), Jennifer Chan (@jennzia) and yours truly (@acampbell99). We hope it’s useful in some way.

We will continue to update it and republish. If there’s a glaring error or something we’ve missed please contact one of us on twitter or submit it through this online form. We hope you will share this widely 🙂

Tag/Acronyn

What It Stands For

Contributor

#AbEd

Alberta Education

Andrew Campbell

ABEL

Advanced Broadband Enabled Learning at York University

Andrew Campbell

AEFO

l’Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens

Andrew Campbell

AMDSB

Avon Maitland District School Board

Tracy Bachellier

#BCEd

British Columbia Education

Andrew Campbell

BIP

Board Improvement Plan

Sheila Stewart

CPCO

Catholic Principals’ Council of Ontario

Jacqui Strachan

#CdnEd

Canadian Education

Andrew Campbell

CEA

Canadian Education Association

Jacqui Strachan

CPF

Canadian Parents for French

Jacqui Strachan

CODE

Council of Ontario Directors of Education

Sheila Stewart

CYW

Child & Youth Worker

Andrew Campbell

D2L

Desire To Learn

Andrew Campbell

EA

Educational Assistant

Tracy Bachellier

ECOO

Educational Computing Organization of Ontario

Andrew Campbell

#edcampDT

Ed Camp Design Thinking

Jennifer Chan

#EdCampHam

Ed Camp Hamilton

Andrew Campbell

ECE

Early Childhood Educator

Andrew Campbell

ETFO

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO)

Andrew Campbell

ELL

English Language Learner

Tracy Bachellier

EQAO

Education Quality and Accountability Office

Tracy Bachellier

FI

French Immersion

Tracy Bachellier

GEDSB

Grand Erie District School Board

Andrew Campbell

HDSB

Halton District School Board

Andrew Campbell

HWDSB

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

Andrew Campbell

IEP

Individual Education Plan

Tracy Bachellier

IPRC

Identification, Placement and Review Committee

Tracy Bachellier

LMS

Learning Management System

Andrew Campbell

MOE

Ministry of Education

Andrew Campbell

MOOC

Massive Open Online Course

Andrew Campbell

NTIP

New Teacher Induction Program

Tracy Bachellier

NOEL

Northern Ontario Education Leaders

Sheila Stewart

OCSTA

Ontario Catholic Schools Trustees Association

Andrew Campbell

OCT

Ontario College of Teachers

Sheila Stewart

OECTA

Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA)

Andrew Campbell

OFHSA

Ontario Federation of Home & School Associations

Sheila Stewart

#ontcl

Ontario Connected Leaders/Learners

Sheila Stewart

#onted

Ontario Education

Sheila Stewart

OPC

Ontario Principals’ Council

Jacqui Strachan

OPSBA

Ontario Public School Boards Association

Sheila Stewart

OSSLT

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test

Tracy Bachellier

OSSTF

Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF)

Andrew Campbell

OTF

Ontario Teachers Federation

Andrew Campbell

OYAP

Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program

Tracy Bachellier

P4E

People for Education

Andrew Campbell

PPE

Parents partenaires en education

Jacqui Strachan

PIC

Parent Involvement Committee

Andrew Campbell

PLN

Professional Learning Network

Andrew Campbell

SAC

Student Advisory/Activity Council

Sheila Stewart

SC

School Council

Sheila Stewart

SEAC

Special Education Advisory Committee

Tracy Bachellier

SHSM

Specialist High Skills Major

Tracy Bachellier

SIP

School Improvement Plan

Andrew Campbell

SO

Supervisory Officer (often a superintendent)

Andrew Campbell

TCDSB

Toronto Catholic District School Board

Jacqui Strachan

TDSB

Toronto District School Board

Andrew Campbell

What Students Can Gain From Losing

14 May

“You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” Rocky Balboa

Teachers understand the importance of learning skills and character in supporting academic success. It’s  integrated into our daily activities and we’ve delivered “Virtues” programs for years. The connection between character and academic success is now being recognized outside the teaching profession.

In 2010 the Ontario government announced that all students would to be instructed and formally evaluated in six key learning skills:

          • Responsibility
          • Organization
          • Independent Work
          • Collaboration
          • Initiative
          • Self-Regulation

The front page of the Ontario Report Card is reserved for communicating Learning Skills progress. The message to parents and students is that learning skills must be developed before sustained academic progress is possible.

In September of 2012 Paul Tough published “How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character” to widespread acclaim. People magazines said “Drop the flashcards—grit, character, and curiosity matter even more than cognitive skills”. Educators continued to discuss how to effectively teach grit and character skills.

Perseverance or “grit”as Tough calls it is the most important of these character skills. Grit is “perseverance in pursuit of a passion” as defined by Angela Duckworth, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. Grit is what kicks in (or doesn’t) when students face an obstacle in learning or in life. When they don’t understand something do students  quit or do they keep going?

I point out to my students that everyone, no matter how intelligent, reaches a point where they don’t understand. Some reach this point sooner, others later, but it comes to us all. What determines our success is what we do when we reach that point. Students without grit give up.

But all students have grit, it just depends on the situation. Students who quit on math spend hours persevering on “Call of Duty”. The student who doesn’t “get it” will take thousands of failed shots in the gym in order to perfect their jump shot. Grit is dependent on engagement, passion. If students are engaged, if they care passionately, they’re more likely to show grit. Our task as educators is to make learning engaging while showing them how to apply the grit they already have to their academic learning.

Since May 1st the most engaging topic for many students in Southern Ontario has been The Toronto Maple Leafs return to the NHL playoffs. Each game is dissected in class with other students and teachers and of course it’s all over the media.

The Leafs game 7 overtime loss was  the major topic of conversation in class the morning after the night before, so we talked about it. In the discussion I said, to disbelieving Leaf fans, that the game 7 overtime loss was probably the best thing that could happen to The Leafs. After the boo-ing died down they asked me to explain.

Massive painful failure can be a tremendous gift. The Leafs showed, throughout the first round, that they persevere. They were underdogs in the series and battled back twice to tie the series. Even in game seven in Boston they were losing and fought back. There’s no quit in this team. They showed grit.

In the end they lost in the most painful way. Holding a 4-1 lead with 15 minutes to go the game was all but won. But they lost the game, and the series, in overtime. Crushing. None of the Leaf players will ever forget that feeling. I know, because I’ve had my own overtime losses. We all have.

After the pain subsides the memories of the loss can turn into a fire in your belly. As the players train for next season they’ll think about what happened, how much it hurt and it will drive them forward past their limits. They’ll vow to never let it happen again.

I encouraged my students to think like The Leafs. Failure is not the end, but a learning opportunity. It’s not a period, it’s a comma, waiting for you to finish the sentence. When my students aren’t being successful, just like the Leafs weren’t, they should also show grit and keep plugging away (I can hear Kessel saying “You just got to keep giving 110% out there”).

There’s a golden opportunity for The Toronto Maple Leafs, a move that will affect the lives of millions of students. The Maple Leafs should become “The Team That Never Quits”. They should reach out to schools and students using social media (YouTube, Skype) and make school visits. Players could share how it felt to fail and how important it is to persevere, to show grit and how they did it. There could be a blue and white poster in every classroom with the Leafs logo and the motto “Never, never,never, ever quit”. (I bet Fred Galang is already working on this :))

Helping students see the bridge between persevering in other areas of their lives and academically would be transformative. The way students are engaged with the club is a powerful tool. They’d also be reaching out to generations of new fans who’d proudly wear the blue & white because of it’s deeper meaning. Sounds like a win-win.

Surefire Ways To Improve Your School’s EQAO Scores

30 Apr

EQAO is coming. Hurray!!!

Late April and early May is a festive time in Ontario’s elementary schools. The whiff of EQAO is in the air (did you get your EQAO tree yet?).

At our recent PD day we had teachers attend workshops to learn how best to administer the test and prepare their students. The rest of us circled the test days in our calendar and were asked to be aware of the serious business afoot. Soon grade 3 & 6 teachers will be stripping classroom walls of student created anchor charts, so that students don’t cheat by looking something up.

Despite the message that no special preparation is needed for EQAO, boards require teachers to administer practice tests and offer after-school ‘booster’ clubs to help students improve their EQAO scores. The official position is that the tests aren’t evaluative, but practice suggests otherwise.

Educators trying to improve EQAO scores might need assistance. Being a helpful sort I scoured the profiles of the top 15 EQAO schools to discover their Score Boosting Secrets!!!

Before sharing, two disclaimers:

  • EQAO doesn’t publish school rankings. They oppose it and claim it is harmful, but still make test data publicly available so that others can rank schools. These are also the tactics of The National Rifle Association, cigarette companies and fast food restaurants. Like EQAO they claim that the harmful effects of their products aren’t their fault, but caused by how people use them. Luckily, the folks at The Fraser Institute produce annual school rankings based on EQAO scores, and it’s their data I used for this analysis.
  • This is not, in any way, a scientific analysis. I am using grade 5 math skills and a little time, not deep data mining. Someone else is welcome to do that.

Here are the surefire ways to improve your school’s EQAO scores from the top 15 EQAO schools:

  • Move To Toronto: Hogtown is home to 60% (9/15) of the top 15 EQAO schools but only 20% of Ontario’s schools. That’s a huge over-achievement. The only non-GTA communities in the top 15 are St Catherines, Sudbury, Guelph and Arnprior. It might be the CN Tower, the excellent public transit, or the fine work of Mayor Rob Ford, but learning in Toronto certainly elevates EQAO scores.
  • Privatize: Independent schools serve just 6% of Ontario students but 20% of the top 15 EQAO schools (3/15) are independent, fee charging schools. Privatizing your school not only improves EQAO scores, but more money means no more teacher griping about having to bring supplies from home. Win-win.
  • Get Rich Quick: Schools teaching students from higher income families score higher on EQAO. The average annual family income of the top 15 EQAO schools is $112, 908.33, almost double the average annual family income in Ontario ($65,500 in 2010). Schools can attract students from high income families with simple strategies such as school uniforms (think grey blazers), a gluten free snack program or changing the school name to something with “Academy” in it. Planting ivy in the front garden won’t hurt.
  • No Specials: Getting rid of special education students boosts EQAO scores. The top 15 EQAO schools average 11.12% special education students, while the provincial average is 19%, almost double. Apply some of the new income from privatization to paying special education students to transfer to neighbouring schools. This will lower your competitors scores, making you look even better.
  • Speak English: The top 15 EQAO schools have only 3% of students that are English Language Learners, less than half of the provincial average of 7%. Surprising given the large number of top 15 schools in the GTA, where the ELL population is reported to be well above the provincial average. Remember this when relocating to Toronto. Location, location, location.

Summary: To transform your school’s EQAO scores become a private school, located in Toronto, with mostly native English speaking students from high income families. Deny admission to special education students.

Related Findings:

  • Faith based instruction doesn’t affect EQAO scores. A third of Ontario schools are faith based and the same proportion are represented in the top 15 EQAO schools.
  • The next 15 schools in the rankings show an even greater GTA bias (13/15). Could it be the sweet waters of Lake Ontario? Further research required.
  • The bottom 15 schools in the Fraser Institute rankings show the following:
    • None are from Toronto and none are private schools
    • About half (7/15) are in First Nations, fly-in communities in Northern Ontario.
    • The seven First Nations schools don’t report family income, but the remaining eight schools in the bottom 15 have an average annual family income of $41,775, almost half the average Ontario annual family income.