Delivering Results that Matter

In today’s knowledge-based society, terminology like transparency, accountability, outcomes, data tracking and evidence-based decision making have become increasingly common in both Ontario and across Canada as key factors in policy making and funding decisions. For literacy and essential skills programs, this means that anecdotal stories and the number of students enrolled in programs are no longer enough to prove the success of a program. Instead, numerical data derived from online information systems that track clients through the education and training system will begin to inform program effectiveness. While some may be intimated by these changes – data and knowledge sharing can become a powerful way of helping programs accomplish their mission of providing effective service to clients which can be used for program improvement. This information can then become an easy-to-use framework for analysis, reflection and action. Essential Skills Ontario aims to research ways of using data to better understand adults who enter and exit literacy and essential skills programming and how best to use this information to improve program effectiveness. As well, we provide a platform for discussion around professional standards and quality assurance of adult literacy and essential skills provision in Ontario.

Why is it important to deliver results that matter?

  • Outcomes matter to students. Students currently involved in literacy and essential skills (LES) training and those who are considering participating need evidence that this training has proven positive results.
  • Outcomes matter to policymakers. Evidence of improved Social Return on Investment (SROI) is crucial to policymakers and key stakeholders. Stakeholders investing time and money into LES training need tangible proof that programs create a positive effect on the economy and province.
  • Customer satisfaction is not just about the client. Most programs measure their success through client satisfaction or the number of clients served. While important, evidence-based outcomes tracking students’ wage increases or growth within post-program employment is also necessary to fully assess students’ success.
  • Tracking outcomes informs program improvement. Programs need to routinely undergo evaluations to improve efficacy, advise future developments and ensure that the most effective training is being provided for adults.

Essential Skills Ontario Initiatives

Aligning and Measuring PS-TREs in the OALCF

This project will relate new developments in digital skills – particularly Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments (PS-TREs) – to the OALCF curriculum. The project will work with LBS practitioners to determine practical ways to integrate PS-TREs into classroom settings.

Literacy & Essential Skills in Ontario 2013/14

This report is an updated version of Essential Skills Ontario’s 2012 publication, Literacy and Essential Skills in Ontario, and incorporates the most recent information available on literacy and essential skills programming trend data in Ontario.

Building Assurance in the System

This two year project aims to enhance and strengthen the relationships between LES providers and industry sectors by determining what constitutes effective programming for both employers and employees.

Literacy and Essential Skills in Ontario, 2012

This report is an updated version of Essential Skills Ontario’s 2009 publication, Literacy in Ontario, and incorporates the most recent information available on literacy and essential skills programming trend data in Ontario.

Realizing Local Workforce Potential through Workforce Planning Boards and Regional Literacy Networks, 2012

This paper describes how Regional Literacy Networks and Workforce Planning Boards can work together, coordinate activities and create strategic partnerships to strengthen regional coordination in employment and training.

Spotlight on Learning

This website was originally created to feed the momentum following Essential Skills Ontario’s 2010 Spotlight on Learning: Becoming Agents of Change Conference. The website is now offline – all workshop videos can be viewed on our YouTube channel

Approaches To Service Coordination, 2011

This report considers how services among different providers might be coordinated so that adults will have access to the supports they require.

Literacy In Ontario, 2009

Ontario’s first cross-sectoral examination of the adult literacy field in Ontario serves as a foundational reference document for understanding everything about literacy in the province.

Professionalization In Adult Literacy Practice, 2006

This report presents a serious and active debate that professionalization of adult literacy in Ontario needs to happen.

Further Reading

Jobs for the Future, Achieving the Dream: Good Data. Strong Commitment. Better Policy. Improved Outcomes
MDRC: How Best to Determine Whether Social and Education Programs Work – or Don’t Work
The Urban Institute: Building a Common Outcome Framework to Measure NonProfit Performance
European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults (RELA): Professionalization – The Struggle Within