- Stephen Lecce, MPP
Province Takes Action to Ensure Students Catch Up
TORONTO — Today, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, announced next steps on Ontario’s Plan to Catch Up, anchored by the government’s commitment to keep students in class learning for the entirety of the school year. Following the release of EQAO results for 2021-22, which are consistent with global trends, it is clear that Ontario students need to remain in class without interruption, with a special focus on catching up in math, reading and writing.
Building on the government’s Plan to Catch Up investments, new initiatives announced today include:
the launch of the Catch Up Payments web portal for direct payments to parents for additional tutoring supports, supplies or equipment that enhance student learning;
Math Action Teams deployed to underperforming school boards;
new digital resources to support parents, students and educators;
new universal screening for reading for Ontario’s youngest learners; and
the extension of the government’s historic tutoring support program.
Catch Up Payments
The Ontario government has launched Catch Up Payments, offering parents $200 or $250 per child to help offset costs as they support their children as they catch up. This new initiative commits a total of $365 million in direct financial relief for parents.
“It could not be clearer that we must keep students in class without disruption, with a focus on catching up on the fundamentals – reading, writing and math – after two years of pandemic-related learning disruptions,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “We are expanding tutoring supports, assessing every young child’s ability to read, and hiring more staff to ensure all kids get back on track and ultimately graduate into good-paying jobs.
While we have provided over $600 million in learning recovery investments to publicly funded schools, we are also providing parents of all school-aged children direct financial relief that can be immediately reinvested to support their children.”
Starting today, parents with school-aged children up to 18 years old can apply for payments of $200 for each child, while parents with school-aged children with special education needs, up to the age of 21, can apply for $250. Families can apply for Catch Up Payments through a secure website where they can create a unique profile for each eligible student. Applications for Catch Up Payments will remain open until March 31, 2023.
Next Steps for Ontario’s Plan to Catch Up
Minister Lecce also announced next steps for Ontario’s Plan to Catch Up, that respond to EQAO assessment results and prepare students for future success. New supports include:
New digital resources, including elementary math course packs, provided by TVO and TFO Idello’s Missions d’Élo, and access to the Grade 9 online math course for additional review and practice. Ontario is also providing an additional $15 million being made available to school boards to offer a digital tool aligned with the Ontario curriculum to support students, parents and educators.
Math Action Teams being deployed to underperforming school boards to promote high-impact math teaching practices in Ontario classrooms. These expert teams will identify and recommend targeted short-term and long-term responses, with a focus on early interventions.
Early reading enhancements that further our response to the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) Right to Read Report, which includes a $25 million investment in evidence-based reading intervention programs and professional assessments, and helps educators reach young students sooner. Beginning in the 2023-24 school year, students in year 2 of Kindergarten to Grade 2 will be screened for reading using evidence-based tools. The government will also work with school boards and labour partners this school year to establish a consistent set of recommended screening tools.
Extending our historic $175 million tutoring support program, previously set to expire on December 31, 2022. The government is extending the investment in this publicly funded tutoring program to ensure students can continue to access supports they need to catch up.
Continued modernization of curriculum, including a focus on math, science, computer studies, business studies, and technological education to ensure students are prepared with the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow. This will include a regular curriculum review cycle that ensures curriculum is up-to-date and relevant to important job and life skills, including pathways to the skilled trades, supported by a Curriculum Review Guide for greater transparency to students and families.
Attendance supports for struggling students, by working with school boards to create provincial expectations for how school boards help students with attendance difficulties and enable more students to benefit from consistent classroom learning.
This is only the beginning of the work under way to enhance the Ontario government’s Plan to Catch Up. The government is working to develop a new Math Recovery Plan, building upon our previous $200 million, four-year math strategy that was impacted by pandemic-related learning disruptions. The government will also review teacher education and training to ensure teachers are prepared with the skills to support students to succeed, particularly in math and literacy. Ontario school boards are projecting to hire almost 6,000 more full-time equivalent staff in Ontario schools than they did in the 2019-20 school year, as part of our Plan to Catch Up, to ensure all students have the supports they need.
These initiatives are in addition to the Ontario Government’s $26.6 billion in funding for the 2022-23 school year, the highest investment in public education in Ontario’s history, which includes the $600 million Learning Recovery Action Plan.
“After two years of classroom and learning disruptions due to the pandemic, Ontario is committed to keeping students learning in schools,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “These strategic investments and initiatives will further help Ontario students get back on track and prepare them for success in the future – both inside and outside the classroom.”
Ontario’s 2021-22 EQAO assessment results will establish a new baseline for student achievement following two years of learning disruptions.
While results reveal weaker performance in math across all grades, and reading and writing in Grade 3, they are consistent with learning gaps observed in other jurisdictions.
The Catch Up Payments are in addition to the $175 million investment for school board-led tutoring supports announced in February 2022, and a $140 million increase to the $225 million originally announced for this program as part of the 2022 Ontario Budget, Ontario’s Plan to Build.
With the new Math Recovery Plan, the government is building on its current Four-year Math Strategy, which delivered more math experts and teachers in schools, de-streamed Grade 9 math courses in English and French, new elementary math curriculum, more math tools in classrooms and expanded one-on-one virtual tutoring supports for students.
With supportive policies and programs delivered by the ministry, school boards and partners, Ontario students have overcome many of the challenges of the pandemic, and graduation rates continue to rise. In 2020-21, 84.2 per cent of the 2016-17 Grade 9 cohort of students received their high school diploma within four years and 89 per cent of students received their high school diploma within five years.