French school board enrollment decreases as children move from the Elementary to Secondary Level
There are four publicly-funded school boards serving Ottawa – English public, English Catholic, French public and French Catholic.
It is important to note that the service area of the two French boards extends well beyond Ottawa into Eastern Ontario. But considering only schools within the City of Ottawa, the English school boards account for 73% of public school student enrollment at the elementary level and 81% at the secondary level. As students move from elementary to secondary schools, about 8% shift from French to English schools.
- Open Data Ontario. Ontario public schools enrollment. Accessed August 1, 2018.
The proportion of Ottawa students meeting grade 6 provincial test standards is above the Ontario average
In 2016-2017, 87% of grade 6 Ottawa public school students met the provincial standard for reading, and 62% for math. This is 5% higher for reading and 9% higher for math than the Ontario averages.
In terms of two factors that can have an influence on learning -- students whose mother tongue is different from the language of instruction, and students with special education needs -- at the grade 6 level, proportions in Ottawa’s public schools are similar to those province-wide.
Taken as a whole, Ottawa schools therefore showed comparative strength in the face of comparable levels of challenge in these two areas. It is important to recognize, though, that many other factors can influence the overall performance of a student population. In addition, the grade 6 tests are a limited snapshot of performance, and results can vary quite significantly over time.
- Education Quality and Accountability Office. Latest Results - Junior Division. Accessed August 1, 2018.
The proportion of Ottawa high school students meeting provincial test standards remains above the Ontario average
Based on 2016-2017 scores for grade 9 academic math and grade 10 literacy testing, Ottawa’s public school population has remained ahead of the province as a whole in proportions of students meeting provincial standards.
In relation to the grade 9 applied math test, Ottawa students were at the same level as the province, with 44% meeting the provincial standard. Academic math performance in Ottawa’s grade 9 students is higher than the provincial average at 88%.
The proportion of grade 10 public school students in Ottawa whose mother tongue is not the language of instruction is notably higher than the provincial average. While the proportion who have special education needs is modestly higher.
- Education Quality and Accountability Office. Latest Results. Accessed August 1, 2018.
Based on a limited sample, significant differences in income profiles of schools affect literacy more than math
It is interesting to compare performance on standardized provincial testing between schools with high numbers of students living in low income households, and schools with low numbers -- in this case, one school with the highest proportion and one with the lowest proportion from each Ottawa’s four school boards.
Averaging over the four year period from 2010 to 2014, 4.5% more students in the schools with very low proportions of low income students met the provincial standard for Grade 9 academic math. This compares with a difference of 11% on the Grade 10 literacy standard. Within this limited sample at least, income differences correlate more strongly with literacy than math.
Also notable are the significant differences in performance among the four schools with high low-income populations, with a spread of over 20 points on math and close to 30 points on literacy. In fact, the highest number of students meeting Grade 9 math standard -- 92% -- was achieved by one of these four schools. However, the proportion of low-income students in that school was 20%, compared to 32% and 37% for the other low-income schools in the sample; and 20% is in fact very close to the provincial average.
In considering these results it is important to bear in mind that the sample size is small, and test performance results can vary significantly between years in the same school. In addition, the measure is simply pass/fail, making it a relatively crude instrument for assessing differences in performance.
- Ontario Ministry of Education. School Information Finder. Accessed August 20, 2016.
Some gains and some losses on other important aspects of learning
Across Ontario, the percentage of elementary schools with full-time or part-time music teachers has been declining for the past decade and is currently at 43%. On the other hand, more schools report having health and physical education teachers, social workers, and child and youth workers. At the same time, however, the case load of special education teachers has been growing.
Ontario EcoSchools is an education and certification program that helps school communities responsibly reduce the environmental footprint of schools. Across all four of Ottawa’s school boards, 47% of schools have some level of certification.
Many other factors affect school performance, school enjoyment, and success in preparing children for fulfilling lives. One that may be surprising is that children who use active modes of transportation to school report more positive emotions in school. Not surprisingly, living closer to school increases the likelihood of walking or wheeling to school.
- Ontario EcoSchools. Certified EcoSchools. 2016. Accessed August 30, 2016
- People for Education. The Geography of Opportunity: What's Needed for Broader Student Success. 2016
- Are Canadian Kids too Tired to Move? The 2016 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.