Ontario is characterized by its large urban centers in the south, located beside or close to the Great Lakes, surrounded by rural, agricultural areas, and by less-populated areas in the northern part of the province. It contains 12.7 million of Canada's 32.6 million people and covers an area of just under 416,000 square miles.
Canada's public elementary and secondary education is a provincial responsibility; there is no national education ministry. Ontario's publicly funded education system has over two million students. There are 1,400,000 elementary and 700,000 secondary students in over 5,000 schools of which 4,002 are elementary and 884 secondary. These schools are administered through 72 boards and 33 school authorities that serve remote or distinct communities.
Ontario provides educational services through both public and Catholic schools and school boards. Students in Ontario have an entitlement to education in either of Canada's two official languages, English and French. There are English-language and French-language schools and district school boards.
Ontario employs 114,200 teachers--72,200 elementary and 42,000 secondary. Education funding is second only to health care in its share of the Ontario budget.
A common curriculum is used from Kindergarten through Grade 12 in the publicly funded education system. The curriculum details the knowledge and skills that students are expected to develop in each subject at each grade level.
The government also established provincial standards for student performance at Grades 3, 6, 9, and 10. By defining the curriculum for use by all Ontario teachers, the Ministry sets standards for the entire province. In 1999 a reform unique to Ontario was implemented, the shortening of the secondary program from five years to four years, comprising Grades 9 to 12. Included with this reform was a Grade 10 literacy test that students must pass in order to graduate. Also required are 40 hours of community volunteering activities.
Course Review--Year 1
Review process for courses is approximately a three-year process. In Year 1 there are initial consultations with all school boards, faculties of education, other ministries, associations that involve colleges and universities, workplace organizations, subject associations, parents, students, and other stakeholders. There is a technical analysis, literature search and content analysis, and benchmarking against other jurisdictions: Alberta, Australia, British Columbia, New Zealand, and Texas, FLEPPB (French Language Education Policy and Program Branch) and others. Summaries are compiled from all of the data gathered during analysis, then a report is compiled and used as a basis for recommendations for revision. A recommendations report is compiled in conjunction with FLEPPB and presented to the Ministry of Education for approval. A summer writing session is put in place focusing on addressing areas for improvement while maintaining the strengths of the document. Teams are composed of 50 writers from across the province, representing 29 school boards and 4 provincial subject associations (OCTE (Ontario Council for Technology Education), ECOO (Educational Computing Organization of Ontario), ACSE (Association of Computer Science Educators) and SSHEO (Secondary School Hospitality Educators of Ontario).
Broad-Based Technologies (BBT)
In the mid 90s there was a shift from specialized technology programs to Broad-Based Technologies. Initially, seven Broad-Based Technologies were introduced: Communications Technology, Construction Technology, Health and Personal Services, Hospitality and Tourism, Manufacturing Technology, Technological Design, and Transportation Technology. There was the ability to offer emphasis courses built into the offerings and the opportunity to offer multi-credit courses. A student could take up to three credits (330 hours) in one grade level for any BBT course. …