Archives For June 4, 2015

Ontario has a renewed vision for education with four main goals.  But, People for Education is kicking it up a notch!

Ontario has goals and targets.  These goals will be measured and yes, EQAO data is part of the picture.  I am cheerful to see from the Achieving Excellence document that there will be a broader focus on gathering data beyond reading, writing and math (through EQAO).  There is a breeze of change and freshness as I see that the government will be looking at broader indicators of success.

Then, there is an even bigger gust of wind from People For Education.

People For Education, and their tireless, no-nonsense and brilliant Executive Director Annie Kidder, are looking at even broader goals and other measures of success that are “publicly understandable, educationally useful, and that reflect the range of skills that students will need to live happy, healthy, economically secure, civically engaged lives.”  On many occasions, Kidder has made the point that EQAO tends to narrow down the purpose of education.  If we only measure reading, writing and math, then that becomes the focus for improvement.

The initiative to achieve this is called Measuring What Matters Most: A New Way of Thinking about Skills and is best described as:

“a multi-year initiative to support the development of educational goals and measures of success which reflect the broad and essential range of skills that graduates—and our society—really need.”

and also,

”The initiative will establish a set of broader goals and measures of success in education that are publicly understandable, educationally useful, and that reflect the range of skills that students will need to live happy, healthy, economically secure, civically engaged lives.”

I think this complements and extends the mission statement from the Achieving Excellence document:

“Ontario is committed to the success and well-being of every student and child. Learners in the province’s education system will develop the knowledge, skills and characteristics that will lead them to become personally successful, economically productive and actively engaged citizens.”

I also think it goes much further than Achieving Excellence.  While the renewed vision mentions innovation, creativity and critical thinking, Measuring What Matters: A New Way of Thinking about Skills explicitly describes what these important skills actually look like and mean.

For example, here are the skills and competencies for creativity:

Skills and Competencies are clearly outlined for:

  • creativity
  • citizenship
  • social-emotional development
  • health

Thereis also a connection made between creativity and critical thinking:

“Creativity and innovation skills allow students to learn more effectively in all academic disciplines and subjects. Critical thinking—a “sister skill” to creativity—involves a process of conceptualizing, seeking accuracy and clarity, resisting impulsive solutions, being responsive to feedback, planning and being aware of one’s own thinking.”

The Measuring What Matters initiative is a multi-year plan with national reach.  I see a lot of discussion and hear a lot of talk of creativity and citizenship in particular, I wonder if the skills and competencies will help administrators and teachers across Ontario and Canada start to bring these ideas down from the conceptual and into the practical application of the classroom.