Oakville students learn their ABCs and then the alliterative three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic – but before any of that can happen, parents must be schooled in their JK/SKs, FIs, EQAOs, OSSLTs, IBs, and APs. On their learning journeys, they might also encounter IEPs and various iterations of ESL, and later graduate to SSATs, SATs and ACTs.
Never has the alphabet of education been so daunting for parents and their children going into Grade 1, or searching for direction during the 12 years of mandatory Ontario school education. “There are myriad pathways to educational success and individual achievement,” says Brad Lee, director of education for TutorBright Oakville. “Families need help navigating the school system and we can help.”
School starts for children as young as junior and senior kindergarten (JK/SK), from ages 4 to 6, when early learners begin to hone fine motor skills, pick up English phonics and letter recognition, and follow directions. Grade 1 comes up quickly and families face the first hard choices in charting their children’s futures.
In Halton, parents of Oakville Kids going into Grade 1 can consider French Immersion (FI) in public and separate schools, where the emphasis is on dual-language development, with a 50-50 split between English and French. Private schools offer alternative learning pathways, and in Oakville, young learners from kindergarten to Grade 5 may consider the primary years program (PYP) of the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, a recognized international educational standard. PYP students are expected to learn a second language that they do not already speak.
Ontario touts a curriculum that is “fair, transparent and equitable for all students” – a value that is supported by TutorBright’s own mission “to help students achieve their individual potential, no matter what the circumstances.”
“Parents and students have come to us for help in adapting to Ontario’s school system, and this might begin with help in learning English as a second language, or ESL,” Lee said. “Others have special needs and might require assistance with Individual Educational Plans, or IEPs.”
Assessment and evaluation of academic performance gains importance in Grade 3, when students take their first EQAO – or mandatory Education Quality and Accountability Office exams in the core subjects of English reading and writing, and math. EQAOs are repeated in Grades 6 and 9 and may give an indication of students’ abilities. Streaming into applied, academic or gifted levels begins in Grade 9. Each level, respectively, indicates pathways to workplace, college or university placement. In Grade 10, students write the compulsory OSSLT, or Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. Students must pass this test to graduate high school.
Motivated students may accept the challenge of entering the IB Diploma Program in Grades 11 and 12, or taking on an Advanced Program (AP) that could give them university course credit. IB students are expected to complete advanced assignments, including an extended essay and “theory of knowledge” paper, which develop research capabilities and stimulate social values.
Other common acronyms that parents are left to decipher include the SSAT, or Secondary School Admission Test, used by many private schools. High-school graduates whose ambitions take them to U.S. colleges and universities must obtain high scores in the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test), which tests knowledge and application in reading, writing and math, or the ACT (American College Testing), another standardized test.
“Educational literacy is an important first step for parents,” said Lee. “Children benefit from their parents’ knowledge of the education system – and the available pathways to individual success and achievement.” TutorBright is there to help families at every step along the way.
This article contributed by TutorBright Oakville who offers free, no-obligation assessments and consultations to potential clients. TutorBright provides in-home, 1-to-1 tutoring instruction with qualified educational mentors for all ages, in all subject areas. For more information call 289-856-9888 or visit www.tutorbright.com