The Ontario Curriculum
Learn more about your children's education
What is the design and purpose of the Ontario Curriculum?
- The Ontario Curriculum documents are outcome-expectations based. This means that the documents describe what your children should know and do in each subject by the end of each grade. The documents are designed to create a program that is coherent, relevant, equitable and age appropriate.
- Three Components make up the design of the Ontario Curriculum:
- Front Matter: includes overviews about the curriculum and how it connects with the priorities and policies of the Ministry of Education
- Curriculum Expectations: Overall as well as specific skills and understanding that students are expected to learn for each specific subject
- Additional Supports: glossaries and resources teachers can use to better implement the curriculum
Who makes the documents and how?
- It is the Ministry of Education that is responsible for creating the curriculum documents, however, it is the responsibility of the teachers to implement the documents effectively to students.
- To create the curriculum documents the Ministry of Education adheres to:
The Education Act, 1990
Education Amendment Act (Learning to Age 180, 2006)
Ontario Schools, Kindergarten to 12: Policy and Program Requirements, 2011
Guidelines set out in subject-specific curriculum policy documents
- Since 2003, the Ministry has also instilled a Review Process to make sure that the curriculum remains updated, relevant and appropriate for students from Kindergarten- Grade 12
How to access the curriculum documents and more!
*With this link you can choose whether to view the curriculum by Grade or Subject
To find out more about the Review Process follow this link and look under Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom of the page:
To find out more about the Ministry follow this link:
How are the curriculum documents organized?
- The Ontario Curriculum documents are organized by subject
- Each Ontario Curriculum document is organized by a table of contents that include the sections:
Assessment and Evaluation of Student Achievement
Considerations for Program Planning
Overview of the Grades
Examples of some of the curriculum documents:
Social Studies Curriculum
Social Studies Curriculum
What do some of the terms mean in the curriculum documents?
Expectations: The understanding and skills that students are expected to demonstrate and develop in each strand.
a) Overall Expectations: describes the general knowledge and skills that students are expected to demonstrate in each strand and subject. (example: in the Arts Curriculum, in the strand of Dance one of the overall expectations is Creating and Presenting) (The Arts Curriculum, p.66)
b) Specific Expectations: the more detailed description of the knowledge and skills expected in each strand and overall expectation. (example: in the Arts Curriculum, in the strand of Dance, in the overall expectation, Creating and Presenting, there is a specific expectation of having the students use movements that are part of their daily experience in a variety of ways in dance phrases) (The Arts Curriculum, p.66)
Levels of Achievement: Description of four different degrees of student achievement based on provincial curriculum expectations. Level 3 being the "provincial standard" (The Arts Curriculum, p.159)
How do overall expectations, fundamental concepts and specific expectations drive lesson design?
- Together, the Overall and Specific expectations make up the mandated curriculum. In order to provide high-quality instruction teachers need to place these expectations and concepts at the core of their lesson designs.
- Teachers should use the Backward Design to create their lesson plans. This means that teachers should start their lesson designs with the overall and specific expectations as their framework to identify their teaching priorities.
"We are not free to teach any topic we choose by any means. Rather, we are guided by national, sate, district, or institutional standards that specify what students should know and be able to do" (Backward Design, Chapter 1 from Wiggins & McTighe (2005), p.1)
How is the student assessed and evaluated in Ontario?
- The Ontario curriculum is criteria-based
- Assessment and evaluation remains consistent throughout all subjects using the Achievement Chart (which is revised for each subject and discipline)
- The Achievement Chart evaluates students level of achievement from 1 to 4 within the four categories:
- Knowledge and Understanding
Example of The Language Curriculum Achievement Chart: (Knowledge and Understanding and Thinking categories)
- Teacher's also assess students throughout the school year by gathering information on a students progression through:
- day-to-day observations
- group work
- Teachers must also provide descriptive feedback for students in order for them to improve their level of achievement in the subjects. (Math Curriculum, p. 18)
How do the curriculum documents expect teachers to design instruction so that it meets the needs of every learner?
- The curriculum documents enforce differentiated instructional approached teaching in order to design an equitable form of instruction. A differentiated instructional approach adjusts the methods of instruction through:
- using different types of resources
- using wider choices of topics
- adjusting learning environment
- adjusting pace or activities
- using visual, audio and orate methods of instruction
- The curriculum documents also encourage cross-curricular learning, which gives students the opportunity to learn about and relate different subjects together and in different methods.
"By linking expectations from different subject areas, teachers can provide a student with multiple opportunities to reinforce and demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a range of settings" (Language Curriculum, p. 23)