TORONTO — The Ontario government is providing new student supports and updating curriculum for the 2023-24 school year. These actions will refocus school boards on the development of foundational skills in reading, writing and math, supported by almost $700 million more in base education funding, $109 million in a new strategy to boost literacy rates, and the hiring of 2,000 more educators.
“Our government is delivering on our commitment to continue to raise the bar by boosting student success in the classroom with a focus on reading, writing, math, STEM disciplines, and learning about mental health literacy,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “Our students deserve a stable and enjoyable school year with the full school experience of extracurriculars, clubs and more that build real life and job skills that go beyond the classroom.”
Beginning this September, all publicly funded school boards will be required to adopt provincial student achievement priorities and metrics to:
- Help students improve EQAO scores in reading, writing and math;
- Prepare students for future success to raise graduation rates, encourage more students to participate in job skills programs and take senior math and science courses; and
- Improve student engagement and awareness of mental health supports.
To further support students facing challenges with math, Ontario is investing over $71 million to launch the Math Action Achievement Plan, a strategy to boost math competence in the classroom and improve board accountability. This includes:
- One lead per school board with the focus of helping improve math outcomes for students. These leads will be responsible for curriculum implementation and standardized training and lead board-wide actions to meet targets.
- More than 300 math coaches will provide direct support in classrooms.
- New Math Action Teams will work directly with school boards to identify and recommend targeted strategies to improve student achievement.
To ensure students have the skills they need to compete and succeed, the province is investing more than $100 million to hire over 940 educators to support students from Grades 7 to 10 transition to high school. Ontario also intends to fund $1 million per year for two years beginning in 2024 for the Ontario Science Centre to create hands-on learning experiences and virtual lesson plans for students, as well as STEM teaching materials for educators.
For the 2023-24 school year, Ontario is introducing revamped curriculum supports to ensure student success including:
- Language Curriculum: Last updated in 2006/2007, the revised Language and Français Grade 1 to 9 curriculums include foundational instruction to support reading and writing, critical thinking, and digital media literacy skills.
- Educator Resources: The government has provided $825,000 to Dyslexia Canada to develop, in partnership with International Dyslexia Association – Ontario, evidence-based systematic and explicit instruction resources and learning supports that are now ready for use.
- Reading Screener and Supports: The province’s $109 million 2023-24 investment includes the largest screening program in Canada, funded with $12.5 million annually to support students from Year 2 of Kindergarten to Grade 2 to be screened for early reading. Up to 700 literacy educators will work to support students who are behind in reading development.
- Grade 10 Digital Technology and Innovations in the Changing World: This course will equip students to be innovative leaders by teaching them how to apply coding concepts and skills, build hands-on projects, and investigate artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and other emerging digital technologies.
- Financial Literacy Modules: Secondary students will learn how to create a budget, manage their money, protect themselves from financial scams, and plan for long-term purchases such as buying a house or car with new modules.
- Mental Health Modules: The Ontario government has partnered with School Mental Health Ontario in collaboration with the Hospital for Sick Children to develop Mental Health Literacy Modules, for teacher use in Grades 7 and 8.
These measures will improve transparency for parents and ensure Ontario’s public education system continues to focus on improving student outcomes by providing them with the skills and tools they need to succeed, particularly in key areas like reading, writing and math.
- Student mental health funding in schools is increasing to a historic $114 million in 2023-24, representing an increase of 555 per cent since 2017-18.
- In April 2023, the Ontario government introduced a new $180-million reading and math strategy to help students build the skills they need to succeed.
- As announced in the budget, the government will provide $6.8 million over three years to support practical, hands‐on experiences for students to further their financial literacy learning and growth.
- The Ontario government also announced an accelerated apprenticeship pathway, starting in Grade 11 that will help prepare students to access rewarding careers in the skilled trades. Consultations will begin in Fall 2023.
"LDAO welcomes the Ministry's funding of infrastructure required to support the move to evidence-based reading practices. Our hope is to see far fewer students struggle to read, which then of course has negative outcomes to their educational experience and outcomes. Support from the Ministry to the front lines of education is a vital part of making the impacts we wish to see become a reality."
- Lawrence Barns
President & Chief Executive Officer, Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (LDAO) Member of Minister’s Advisory Council on Special Education (MACSE)
"Students tell us they want to learn more about mental health at school. These important new research-based, mental health literacy modules help equip every Grade 7 and 8 student across the province with strategies to maintain good mental health. This learning can reduce stigma about help-seeking when mental health or substance use problems arise and bring awareness to the supports and services available in schools and communities. Introducing mental health literacy at school in a systematic and evidence-informed way is a strong positive step that will have meaningful and lasting impacts for Ontario students."
- Dr. Kathy Short
Executive Director, School Mental Health Ontario
"Young people have big, bold dreams for their futures. That’s why JA partners with educators to start teaching financial literacy concepts as early as Grade 3, setting students up for success when they graduate. The integration of financial literacy into Ontario’s curriculum and the strong emphasis on math helps young people build the skills, understanding, and self-efficacy they need to thrive."
- Jennifer Holmes Weier
President & CEO JA Central Ontario
"Through our research and clinical experience at SickKids, we have seen first-hand how the past few years have significantly impacted the mental health of children and youth. School is a critical time in a child’s life to develop the skills that will help them succeed into adulthood and we are pleased to see mental health literacy being incorporated in the Ontario curriculum. Developed with SickKids expertise, the Mental Health Literacy Modules will introduce children to core concepts in mental health, and help them to consider tools they might use to cope with challenges they encounter in their lives."
- Dr. Daphne Korczak, Psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry
SickKids Chair in Child and Youth Medical Psychiatry and Associate Scientist in the Neurosciences & Mental Health program at SickKids