People for Education

“Measuring What Matters”

2014 2017

The goal of the project was to create a broader set of goals and measures of success for kindergarten to grade 12 education in Ontario that would encourage the development of the policy, curriculum, programs and resources that young people need to flourish in the 21st Century. The project focused on building consensus around a new set of indicators for educational success by conducting research, convening a range of stakeholders, and communicating our findings about both the importance and the viability of goals for schools that are aligned with those of post-secondary education and the world of work. The Counselling Foundation of Canada was one of several funders involved in this project.

As a result of this work People for Education published a number of reports and insight papers including these two reports:

  • Measuring What Matters: Competencies in the Classroom, which includes preliminary findings from the Measuring What Matters field trials in 26 publicly funded schools across 7 Ontario school boards.
  • What Matters in Indigenous Education, which draws out the research, concepts and themes from Measuring What Matters that align with Indigenous determinants of educational success. It expands on this work by offering perspectives and insights that are Indigenous and authentic in nature.

A key insight from this work: 

The work of systems change is complex (and delicate). It has been vital to test each idea as we move forward, which involves working farther inside the system than we have in the past. This, in turn has provided lessons on the importance of finding key leverage points to move ideas from theory to practice. Some of the ideas in Measuring What Matters are contentious for some stakeholders. At one end of the spectrum there are stakeholders who resist entirely the idea of system-level methods to measure students’ acquisition of broader competencies; at the other end are stakeholders who want more standards in each area. We have learned to be wary of the idea that there is ever one “answer”, or one “tool” or instrument that will solve these complex problems. It is vital to take the time to build the foundation for the work by supporting the slow and collaborative development of the common language and lexicon.


About People for Education

People for Education is an independent, non-partisan, charitable organization working to support and advance public education through research, policy, and public engagement.