- Stephen Lecce, MPP
Improving Accountability and Transparency in Ontario Schools
The government is committed to delivering a world-class education system that helps prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow.
The legislative changes proposed through The Better Schools and Student Outcomes Act, together with future regulatory amendments, would if passed, lay the groundwork for a truly world-class education system unified with a singular focus: to improve student outcomes in important life-long skills like reading, writing and math.
Accountability and transparency
Ontario’s school boards are not consistently working toward the same priorities. School board performance varies across the province on indicators related to literacy, math, graduation and student attendance. In addition, some parents can review and assess their school board’s performance, while other boards do not proactively share this information. In response, Ontario is taking action through proposed legislation to set student achievement priorities and expectations for Ontario’s education sector. Proposed legislative and future regulatory changes, if passed, would:
Allow the Minister of Education to set provincial priorities to focus boards in important areas of student achievement, like reading, writing and math
Require school boards to report on progress toward these priorities and enable the Ministry of Education to support struggling boards sooner
Allow the minister to require school boards to make any report that the minister may require from the board available to the public
Require enhanced school board financial reporting on funding and spending, planned and actuals
Allow the minister to strengthen rules around financial accountability and transparency
Allow the minister to prescribe school board limitations in participating in business activities that could place school boards in financial risk
Allow the minister to enhance financial accountability of school board-controlled entities
Promote greater school board-municipality co-operation on delivering child care
Enable an accelerated apprenticeship pathway.
Governance and leadership
There are about 700 trustees that make critical decisions in Ontario’s school boards who bring valuable perspectives and local considerations into how school boards are governed. Directors of Education also play a vital leadership role in school boards by managing the day-to-day operations of schools, student transportation, the building of schools and oversight of thousands of teachers, education workers and administrators.
Together, school board leadership plays a critical role in ensuring Ontario’s education system is focused on what is most important: life-long skills like reading, writing and math. We also know that parents and students need more tools for transparency and accountability. As such, it is imperative the individuals in these roles are trained with the knowledge to deliver high-quality public education to the students in their school boards.
However, there is currently inconsistency across the province in the support and training provided to trustees and how the performance of Directors of Education is assessed. Proposed legislative changes, if passed, would:
Authorize the minister to establish policies and guidelines setting out training, including the content, timing and frequency of training to be completed by trustees
Allow the government to establish a performance appraisal process for Directors of Education.
To strengthen trustee codes of conduct and reduce disruption so trustees can focus their attention on student achievement, the proposed changes, if passed, would establish a new impartial Integrity Commissioner-led process for resolving code of conduct complaints.
Maximizing capital assets
It is more important than ever that school board capital assets are used effectively and efficiently to meet the needs of growing communities, support student learning and ensure value for taxpayer dollars.
Providing the Minister of Education with additional powers regarding school board sites would support the government’s goals of ensuring modern schools are built faster, school capacity is better utilized, surplus school property is leveraged for provincial priorities, and accountability and transparency are enhanced.
Proposed legislative and future regulatory changes would:
Establish a framework for property identified by school boards as excess property that is not needed to meet current or future pupil accommodation needs, and better leverage surplus property for provincial priorities, including affordable housing, and long-term care spaces
Establish a framework that reduces barriers to facilitate agreements for schools in multi-use buildings to address accommodation needs in urban and high-growth areas
Require school boards to collaborate with municipalities to better plan for schools, aligned with the government’s new Provincial Planning Statement
Enable the minister to direct school boards to utilize available classroom spaces more efficiently by operating schools in joint-use facilities
Enable the minister to direct school boards to utilize specific design standards for capital projects, speeding up approvals and helping get new schools built faster.
Teacher training and oversight
The Ontario College of Teachers and College of Early Childhood Educators play a vital role in governing their respective professions. The government has made important advancements to ensure fair and effective disciplinary measures and is building on this progress through proposed reforms. There is also an opportunity to enhance how teachers are trained in Initial Teacher Education programs to ensure they have the skills and knowledge required to deliver students a world-class education which will help them succeed in the jobs and economy of tomorrow.
Proposed legislative changes, if passed, would:
Provide clarity on membership status for teachers
Build on our progress to establish a leading system of student safety and educator oversight, further measures to expedite disciplinary decisions for educators convicted of a criminal offense
Expand eligibility for therapy funding to all students that have been impacted by sexual abuse by teachers through the Ontario College of Teachers
Enable more efficient disciplinary processes.
In addition, the Ministry of Education will work with the Ontario College of Teachers to help cut in half the amount of time it takes to process an application for certification of a teacher in Ontario, ensuring we are getting the educators we need into classrooms.
Consistent information and approaches to student learning
Consistency in the classroom experience is vital to ensure that no matter where one lives, a student is getting the education they need to master important life-long skills, like reading, writing and math, while learning about mental health and getting the support they need. The same can be said for parents when it comes to knowing what is happening in their child or children’s classrooms.
Proposed legislative and future regulatory changes would:
Ensure Ontario’s curriculum reflects current and future trends by authorizing the minister to issue a guide on curriculum review for greater transparency to students and families
Enable the minister to issue binding policies and guidelines respecting student mental health
Strengthen parent involvement by authorizing the minister to require school boards to provide parent-friendly information about their child’s education, so they can have the information they need at their fingertips to support their children.
As implementation moves forward, there will be opportunities to engage with sector partners.