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What’s Going On In Ontario’s Schools?


I was recently appointed to the California Educator Excellence Task Force, and we had our first meeting yesterday.

At the meeting, Linda Darling-Hammond, the Task Force’s co-chair, gave a presentation on three exemplary school systems from around the world — Finland, Singapore, and Ontario, Canada.

I’ve heard and read a lot about both Finland and Singapore, but hearing about Ontario was new to me.

Are there readers our there more familiar with what’s happening in Ontario? Do you teach? How would you describe what’s going on in Ontario’s schools?

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. I’m an Academic ICT Consultant at a the TCDSB in Toronto, Ontario. It would be really hard to encapsulate all the different initiatives that are happening across the school district and the province. The Ontario Ministry of Education is a good place to start –

    In the last few 4-5 years we have moved to a more education friendly provincial government from one that seemed to be moving in the opposite direction. Although with the recent budget cuts we are bound to see change.

    It’s really hard to encapsulate in a blog comment.

  2. If you’re interested in becoming familiar with some of the voices in Ontario, check out Eighteen months ago, I shared this list then Doug Peterson developed it into this

    If you’re interested in meeting some of us, you could consider setting aside part of your summer for

  3. I just finished reading Change Leader by Michael Fullan and in this book he describes some of his work with the Ontario school system since 2003. Here’s a recent article from Fullan that summarizes the work in Ontario from his perspective:

    Here’s another article that was written in 2008. This one has a lot more specifics about the school system before large scale change initiatives were implemented, specific steps that were taken, and outcomes as of 2008.

    And here’s a great summary of the approach that was taken to improve the schools.

    Changes are respectful of professional knowledge and practice, and their main elements are coherent and aligned at the provincial, district, and school
    levels. Key partners — the provincial Ministry of Education, school boards, schools, and provincial and local organizations of teachers, principals, and others — work together. Change strategies are comprehensive and emphasize building capacity for improvement through professional learning, strong leadership, necessary resources, and effective engagement of
    parents and the broader community. Great emphasis is placed on public communication so that people know what is happening and support the schools.
    Most of all, there has been a relentless focus over several years on the same basic strategy.

    And, here’s my favorite line of all:

    Ontario has avoided a focus on test preparation and drill.

    Very promising example of system wide reform that was done with a collaborative approach from all stakeholders.

  4. I live in Ontario, Canada and I would describe Ontario’s schools as poor at best. I’m seriously thinking of homeschooling my child I am so fed up with the current level of education she is receiving and what she can expect for the next ten years.

    If you want unbiased opinions why don’t you ask the universities in Ontario about the decline in the “quality” of student they’re admitting currently vs. twenty years ago.

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