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. But considering only schools within the City of Ottawa, the English school boards account for 78% of public school student enrollment at the elementary level and 84% at the secondary level.
As students move from elementary to secondary schools, about 6% shift from French to English schools.
For the data in this graphic, it was possible to separate out enrollment numbers for just the Ottawa-based schools in the two French boards.
- Open Data Ontario. Ontario public schools enrollment. Accessed July 12, 2016.
THE PROPORTION OF OTTAWA STUDENTS MEETING GRADE 6 PROVINCIAL TEST STANDARDS IS ABOVE THE ONTARIO AVERAGE
In 2013-2014, 84% of grade 6 Ottawa public school students met the provincial standard for reading, and 65% for math. This is 4% higher for reading and 10% 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 20, 2016.
THE PROPORTION OF OTTAWA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS MEETING PROVINCIAL TEST STANDARDS REMAINS ABOVE THE ONTARIO AVERAGE
In terms of grade 9 math and grade 10 literacy testing, based on 2013-14 Ottawa’s public school population has remained ahead of the province as a whole in proportions of students meeting provincial standards. But the differences are smaller than those for Grade 6 students.
The most significant difference was in relation to the grade 9 applied math test -- 54% of Ottawa students met the standard versus 47% at the provincial level. Perhaps more significant, however, is the low levels of achievement of expected proficiency at both levels. On the other hand, academic math performance is significantly improved from the grade 6 level both in Ottawa and provincially. Academic math focuses more on the study of theory and abstract problems. Applied courses focus on the essential concepts, practical applications and concrete examples.
The proportion of grade 10 public school students in Ottawa whose mother tongue is not the language of instruction, and the proportion who have special education needs, were both modestly higher than the provincial averages. This suggests the possibility that on average Ottawa schools have slightly more work to do to counterbalance any associated learning challenges. In that sense, the higher proportion of students achieving provincial standards is particularly notable.
- Education Quality and Accountability Office. Latest Results. Accessed August 20, 2016.
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.