Ontario Making Significant Progress To Reach Every Student

    Graduation Rate Rising; Student Achievement Up; Primary Class Sizes

    TORONTO, March 17 /CNW/ - Thousands more students are achieving their
full potential today because the McGuinty government partnered with Ontarians
to improve the education system over the past three years, said Education
Minister Kathleen Wynne today.
    "I want to thank everyone in the education community who has shared our
vision for a better education system and worked with us to reach every
student," said Wynne. "We've come a long way from three years ago when too
many students were dropping out of school, failing to learn basic reading and
math skills and facing countless strikes and disruptions."
    The McGuinty government responded by investing $2.75 billion more in
education since 2003. This included significant funding to cap class sizes in
the primary grades, ensure peace and stability, provide more support for
struggling students, improve programs so more kids graduate and focus on
literacy and numeracy.
    "We promised Ontario students that we would rebuild their education
system, and that's exactly what we have done," added Wynne.
    Ontario's rising graduation rate is a clear sign of progress. Over the
past two years, the rate has increased to 73 per cent - meaning 12,000 more
students now have a diploma and are better prepared for the future. In
addition, early indicators show that more Grade 9 and 10 students are
completing all of their courses and are on track to graduate.
    Progress has also been made in helping tens of thousands more students
succeed in reading, writing and math. Over the past three years:

    -   Grade 10 students passing the provincial literacy test increased
        12 percentage points to 84 per cent

    -   Grade 9 students meeting the standard on the provincial applied math
        test increased 14 percentage points to 35 per cent

    -   Grade 9 students meeting the standard on the provincial academic math
        test increased five percentage points to 71 per cent

    -   Grade 3 and 6 students meeting the standard on provincial reading,
        writing and math assessments increased 10 percentage points to
        64 per cent

    "Students in smaller classes receive more attention and have greater
success in the early grades," said Michael Fullan, professor emeritus at the
University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education and special
advisor to Premier Dalton McGuinty. "Smaller class size combined with improved
teaching of literacy and math makes it much more likely that students will
excel in high school, graduate and reach their full potential."
    This year, 93 per cent of Ontario's kindergarten-to-Grade 3 classes have
23 or fewer students - that means more than 580,000 kids are benefiting from
smaller classes. The number of classes capped with 20 or fewer students has
doubled over the past three years to 65 per cent, while the average class size
in grades 4 to 8 has remained stable.
    School boards are preparing plans to meet the government's goal of 20
students or fewer in 90 per cent of primary classes next year. Some boards may
need more time to build additional classrooms or organize classes. These
boards will work with the ministry to ensure that they achieve the best
results for students in the next school year.
    "In just three years tremendous progress has been made in reducing
primary class sizes and school boards are on track to finish the job," said
    The learning environment has also been improved for students so they can
focus on their studies. Repair or replacements of more than 6,800 sets of
windows, boilers, roofs and other projects are completed or underway at more
than 2,000 schools. Thousands more projects have been funded and are planned
for the next two years.
    The government has also built strong partnerships with teachers by:

    -   Facilitating four-year contract agreements

    -   Funding 6,800 additional positions in elementary and secondary

    -   Consulting with them regularly on important education policies

    -   Providing valuable professional development and resources to help
        them in the classroom

    -   Launching the Premier's Awards for Teaching Excellence that received
        more than 1,000 nominations this year

    Furthermore, the number of teachers leaving the profession before
retirement declined by 20 per cent between 2003 and 2005, pointing to higher
morale and job satisfaction.
    "Parents are seeing a change that's working," said Wynne. "Smaller
classes and higher test scores show that working together, we can help our
students succeed."

    Disponible en français

For further information:

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

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Ontario Ministry of Education

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