Friday, November 25, 2011

Focus on Education: A Weekly Ontario News Update - November 26, 2011


A review of the week's education news in Ontario, including some noteworthy items from other provinces or the US.

Education Quality and Accountability Office to Release Ontario Student Results on National Reading, Math and Science Test
At 10:00 a.m. on Monday, November 28, 2011, the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) will release Ontario student results from the 2010 Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) test.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Investing in Early Childhood Education - Early Years Report Released

To truly transform kids' lives and give them the best possible start publicly funded education should start at the age of 2 -
We need to think of building education downward, but at the same time not ‘schoolifying' kids but stimulating kids” through optional, play-based programs...
This is the main message delivered by the newly released Early Years Study 3: Making Decisions Taking Action, the last report by the late J. Fraser Mustard and funded by the Margaret & Wallace McCain Family Foundation. It's all over the Canadian news, and rightfully so, it took the bold step of introducing an Early Childhood Education Index: based on five categories (governance, funding, access, learning environment, and accountability) it provides a snapshot of provincial early childhood education services.

To access the previous two reports:
  • Early years study 2: Putting science into action (2007) focused on the policy framework necessary to improve conditions in early childhood, with a view of improving the health of the population. 
  • The seminal Early years study: Reversing the real brain drain (1999) describes the critical importance of children's early interactions in shaping their development.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Focus on Education: A Weekly Ontario News Update - November 11, 2011


Focus on Education: A Weekly Ontario News Update - November 4, 2011 has 22 articles from the past week. Here are some of the news items covered:
  • Racist graffiti shocks U of W
  • Mutant worms and banana DNA – program gets kids into weird science
  • Teens think they'll earn $90,000 a year by age 30
  • Dropout rates rise with immigrant child’s age of arrival
  • Publishers Turn to Cloud Computing to Offer Digital Content
and more, see http://bitly.com/tvOGa2

Friday, November 4, 2011

Focus on Education: A Weekly Ontario News Update - November 4, 2011


Focus on Education: A Weekly Ontario News Update - November 4, 2011 has 22 articles from the past week. Here are some of the news items covered:
  • Racist graffiti shocks U of W
  • Mutant worms and banana DNA – program gets kids into weird science
  • Teens think they'll earn $90,000 a year by age 30
  • Dropout rates rise with immigrant child’s age of arrival
  • Publishers Turn to Cloud Computing to Offer Digital Content
and more, see http://bitly.com/vZPXPf

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Financial Literacy in Canada Report Released

November is Financial Literacy Month - who knew, and the BC Securities Commission has just released The National Report Card on Youth Financial Literacy - a survey of over 3,000 recent Canadian high school graduates, most of whom went on to a post-secondary program, found they are highly optimistic about their financial futures, e.g.:
  • The average survey respondent expects to earn $90,735 in 10 years; roughly three times the average income of 25 to 29 year-olds with post-secondary degrees ($31,648) according to Statistics Canada’s 2006 Census data
  • Nearly 3-in-4 (73%) expect to own a home within the next 10 years; according to estimates by Statistics Canada, only 42% of 25 to 29 year-olds are homeowners
  • A large majority of respondents (81%) believe they will be financially better off in life than their parents
  • Among those with a student loan, almost half (49%) say they will definitely or very likely pay it off in 5 years. However the real numbers tell us a different story. Student debt has nearly reached a record high at $15 billion according to the 2010-11 actuarial report released by the Federal Government.
Amazing.

This is the first comprehensive Canadian benchmark study on youth financial life skills, and what it's really telling us is
a) classroom-based Financial Literacy curriculum is not working...a position shared by the National Report Card, and
b) we suspect many of these kids have been coddled and sheltered from experiencing the crappy summer / school year jobs many of us had when we grew up. (Many of the recent graduates or university students we get seem to be walking into their first, second job, and from discussions many appear to have gone their teen summers without getting a job?!?!)

Below are links to the Ontario Minsitry of Education's guides to integrating Financial Literacy into the curriculum...also a mystery to many teachers:
Today's Toronto Star (Moneyville, a Star finance blog) also had an article on the report, and also worth reading is a previous article on Moneyville, Debt-free by 44? Many young Canadians think so...what a hilarious bunch.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ensuring the Value of University Degrees in Ontario - A COU Report

The Council of Ontario Universities has just release a report, Ensuring the Value of University Degrees in Ontario, explores "how universities define degree level expectations – the intellectual and creative development that students will acquire from a particular degree, and how these expectations are integrated into curriculum and the learning outcomes of specific courses".

The whole concept of defining degree level expectations and learning outcomes in a quality assurance context is a rather brave one. It's all very high-level, and is packaged more like a communications piece than an actual report. But this is surely meant as a piece to initiate thinking and dialogue about the university experience as process and investment. For example, the identified categories of knowledge and skills that students must demonstrate in order to be awarded a degree are:
  • Depth and breadth of knowledge
  • Knowledge of methodologies
  • Research and scholarship
  • Application of knowledge
  • Communications skills
  • Awareness of the limits of knowledge
  • Autonomy and professional capacity
And for each category they associate specific expectations per degree level, e.g. for Autonomy and professional capacity at the Master's dgree level, students must demonstrate:
The qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment
requiring the exercise of initiative, personal responsibility and
accountability; decision-making in complex situations; the
intellectual independence required for continuing professional
development; the ethical behavior consistent with academic
integrity and the use of appropriate guidelines and procedures for
responsible conduct of research; and the ability to appreciate the
broader implications of applying knowledge to particular contexts.
Yup, very broad and almost a generic résumé fee; to it.