Education systems change

The Foundation has an objective to work with our education partners to influence policy, attitudes and culture to strengthen equity, wellness and academic achievement in the universal public education system. Our current initiatives include:

Hamilton Community Research Partnership

This coalition provides a model for collecting and connecting data to track and improve long-term student outcomes in Ontario. Its members are Hamilton’s two English language school boards, McMaster University and Mohawk College. HCF and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario provide funding and organizational support.

The project connects data housed by individual institutions to provide a fuller understanding of students’ trajectories through the education system, and how they are affected by spending and other policy decisions. Within a secure infrastructure, the project provides the means to share de-identified data that can lead to knowledge such as characteristics and predictors of students’ likelihood to attend post-secondary and their success once there. It can provide information about programming and assistance that may increase this likelihood and how post-secondary institutions can support incoming students, particularly those who need it most.

Three research reports support the work of the Community Research Partnership (comprising the Hamilton-Wentworth public and Catholic school bards, McMaster University, Mohawk College, the Hamilton Community Foundation and the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario):

The Power of Connected Data: Charting Student Pathways to and through Postsecondary in Hamilton was produced by the Hamilton Community Research Partnership and makes the case for a provincial strategy that connects depersonalized student data across educational institutions with the purpose of achieving more equitable outcomes for students.

CRP Blueprint: How we Built a Community Data Infrastructure outlines the process and practices involved in the Community Research Partnership and serves as a resource for other organizations interested in data-sharing partnerships.

Learning from Educator Experiences with Grade 9 Destreaming Supports and Strategies discusses key findings from a March, 2022 workshop with approximately 80 educators from Hamilton school boards that provided educators an opportunity to share experiences and offer recommendations for improvement around Grade 9 destreamed math. ‘Streaming’ refers to the process of guiding students into advanced, academic, or locally developed versions of a given course; the Grade 9 curriculum in Ontario has now been ‘destreamed,’ eliminating these separate sections of the courses.

Past education systems change initiatives

In partnership with the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, the Pandemic Education Research Project looked at the fundamental effects of the pandemic on students and families. In late 2021, researchers heard from 23 youths ranging in age from age seven to 17 about their experiences with online programming, connections with peers and trusted adults, as well as on the supports that worked best. HCF is using this report, in combination with other available data, to focus its resources for maximum effectiveness. You can read the final report here.