Ontario Government to Give Legislative Backing to Student Success

New legislation is expected to be introduced today that would ensure students keep learning to 18 or graduation through creative incentives that realize students’ individual potential and unique enforcements to prevent them from dropping out, Education Minister Gerard
Kennedy announced today.
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“It has been 50 years since Ontario updated the school-leaving age requirement,” said Kennedy. “It’s time that our 21st century high schools provide the kind of programs that are relevant to students today and support parents’ ambitions for their children.”
“There is more at stake than ever before for students to get a high school education that is high quality, meaningful and prepares them for a variety of postsecondary destinations.”

The legislation, if passed, would:

– mandate the government’s comprehensive student success programs be made available by all school boards
– increase the school leaving age to 18 or until graduation by keeping students learning either in classrooms or at other approved learning programs
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– improve enforcement policies with more effective and practical measures tied to students’ driver’s licences
– create hard links between high schools and postsecondary destinations to allow external learning to be recognized for high school credits

Launched in 2003-04, the government’s $1.3 billion Student Success Strategy has shown early progress, increasing the graduation rate from 68 percent to 71 percent over one year and moving toward the government’s graduation target of 85 per cent by 2010. Phase 1 and 2 programs already underway in high schools include dedicated student success teachers and
board-wide leaders, innovative lighthouse programs, revisions to the curriculum, class size limits in key courses and upgraded technological education facilities.
Phase 3 of the strategy, announced last week, will dramatically expand co-operative education programs, create a Specialist High-Skills Major within the high school diploma and recognize dual-credits between high schools and postsecondary destinations.
“Our Student Success Strategy is about customizing high schools to give every student an Ontario education advantage,” said Kennedy. “Enforcement measures are intended as a backstop to these important student success programs and to send a strong signal that we are taking responsibility for student achievement.”
If passed, the legislation would include an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act to authorize the making of regulations to require that 16- and 17-year-olds, who wish to apply for their drivers licences or to move from G1 to G2 or further to full G licences, provide evidence that they are attending school or are excused from attendance at school under the Education Act. The measure will only be enacted once the government is satisfied that the student success programs are sufficiently in place.
“This legislation demonstrates that the government is serious about student success. These programs promise to provide relevant opportunities for students that will prepare them for their next step in life,” said Mag Gardner, Student Success Leader, Halton District School Board. “This is an invitation for students to not only graduate, but learn in a way that is meaningful for them.”