Is Ontario Ministry of Education Class-Size Tracker substance or substandard?

Parents and guardians of children in kindergarten through gradethree can now see online how big classes at their child’s schoolare, with the launch of The Ontario Ministry of Education’s (OME)Class-Size Tracker.

Ontario’s education ministry has committed to bring 90 per centof kindergarten to grade three classes down to 20 students or lessby the 2007-2008 school year. Next school year parents should beable to track the progress of this initiative with the onlinetracking tool on the OME web site.

“Its transparency, we are allowing parents to see what ishappening in their school systems, I mean parents want to knowright?” said Steve Robinson, OME spokesperson. “We have made thecommitment, and basically it’s necessary that parents have theability to check up and see if that’s been done.”

The delivery of the new Class-Size Tracker is late, according toAnnie Kidder, executive director, People for Education.

“It is kind of ironic that this went up at the very end of theschool year,” said Kidder. “One hopes that next year they will beable to have (the information) up faster.”

Kidder said she is concerned the new policy of smaller classsizes and its electronic accompaniment in primary grades is tyingup money that is needed in other parts of the education system.

“All boards are still struggling to have enough money to pay forheat and light and their school libraries,” said Kidder. “It’s aworry that this is the place where millions and millions andmillions of dollars is going to when we’re still seeing areas ofthe education system suffering.”

Robinson countered that the 72 boards in Ontario all havedifferent needs and there will be some flexibility granted to theboards regarding how to put the policy in place.

“Scientific evidence suggests that students benefit from smallerclass sizes in the lower grades, and it’s not as important inhigher grades,” he said.

Kidder said the online tracker is a “useful promotional tool”for people to see how the government is advancing towardscompletion of the policy.

“It’s certainly not going to change any lives, it’s just a wayof proving that they are doing what they said they are going to doand it’s political,” she said. “They said we were going to lowerclass sizes and now they can show you that they are lowering classsizes.”

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