ESL and Special Needs Students Continue To Close the Achievement Gap

    Elementary Students Show Four Years of Sustained Improvement

    TORONTO, Aug. 29 /CNW/ - Ontario's elementary students have seen a
considerable improvement in reading, writing and math test scores since 2003,
setting the stage for further improvements in the coming school year,
Education Minister Kathleen Wynne said today.
    "I congratulate our students and their teachers for setting the bar
higher and showing that they are ready to make more progress in the years
ahead," said Wynne in response to provincial test results released by the
Education Quality and Accountability Office. "I am especially pleased to see
the great progress our ESL and special needs students have made."
    English-as-a-Second-Language and special needs students posted another
year of improved results. ESL students are improving so quickly that they are
closing the achievement gap with the overall student population.

      -  Grade 3 ESL students: results have improved by 18 percentage points
         since 2002-03.
      -  Grade 6 ESL students: results have improved by 15 percentage points
         since 2002-03.
      -  Grade 3 special needs students: results have improved by
         7 percentage points since 2002-03.
      -  Grade 6 special needs students: results have improved by 5
         percentage points since 2002-03.

    "The consensus is that Ontario's success in literacy education is
establishing a new international benchmark," said Allan Luke, internationally
recognized education expert at Australia's Queensland University of
Technology. "Ontario's focus on professionalism, quality and equity has led to
sustained gains and reduced performance gaps by students whose first language
is not English."
    Results for all Grade 3 and 6 assessment areas have improved overall
since the McGuinty government came to office in 2003. The majority of test
results have improved by at least 10 percentage points over the past four
    The Education Quality and Accountability Office measures the results
against the provincial standard (Level 3), which is equivalent to 70 per cent
or higher.
      -  Grade 3: 65 per cent of students scored at or above the provincial
         standard, a gain of 11 percentage points from 2002-03 and consistent
         with 2005-06.
      -  Grade 6: 62 per cent of students scored at or above the provincial
         standard, a gain of 7 percentage points from 2002-03 and consistent
         with 2005-06.

    The McGuinty government's comprehensive literacy and numeracy strategy
has delivered significant results. The Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat will
continue to work in partnership with school boards to improve student
achievement and to close gaps in performance.
    "Through the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, the Ministry of
Education, has provided much needed resources and opportunities, helping
boards to move their schools forward," said Dr. Donald G. Jamieson, CEO and
scientific director for the Canadian Language and Literacy Research Network.
    The Ministry of Education uses the test results to improve instructional
practices and focus resources where they are most needed.
    "We are on the right track," said Wynne. "We will continue to keep our
focus and make the investments needed to ensure that all of our students
receive the support they need to achieve their full potential."

    Disponible en français


For further information:

For further information: Michelle Despault, Minister's Office, (416)
212-3747; Patricia MacNeil, Communications Branch, (416) 325-2676, Public
Inquiries: (416) 325-2929 or 1-800-387-5514, TTY: 1-800-263-2892

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Ontario Ministry of Education

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