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Student Success Initiative


Every person has strengths and talents. Our goal as educators is to help each and every student define what success means for them.

In Rainbow Schools, success is:

  • the student with special needs who gains sufficient skills to live independently;
  • the student who leaves high school and moves directly into the world of work;
  • the student who enrolls in an apprenticeship as an auto service technician and goes on to work in a garage;
  • the student who goes to college to take the hotel and restaurant management program and pursues a career in the hospitality industry; and
  • the student who leaves high school, goes on to university, graduates from medical school, and one day opens his or her own doctor’s office.

When young people find a place where they can achieve success, they are well on their way towards being happy and productive members of society. We all have a responsibility, as parents/guardians, educators and members of the community, to support young people by opening doors and listening to what captures their interest.

Student Success focuses on strengths and interests

The Student Success Initiative (Grades 7 to 12) is the Province of Ontario’s response to a number of expert panel reports that revealed some startling statistics about graduation rates in Ontario schools. According to the Ministry of Education, over 70 per cent of parents/guardians expect their children to go to university.

Here’s what the statistics show:

  • 33 per cent of high school graduates go to university
  • 19 per cent of high school graduates go to college
  • 19 per cent of high school graduates go directly into the workforce
  • 29 per cent of high school students leave school before obtaining their secondary school diploma

Research has shown that the idea that post-secondary education is the most desirable outcome does not reflect the reality of many students interests, abilities, and choices, and it is unreasonable to measure student success solely in terms of this outcome. Students who obtain their diploma/certificate and find employment must equally be considered a success. The emphasis must be on what each student is capable of doing well.

To ensure student success, strategies and programs have been implemented to address the needs of students in Grades 7 to 12 to support them as they make their way through secondary school to their post-secondary destination of choice.

The Student Success Initiative is built on four pillars:

  1. Literacy
  2. Mathematical Literacy
  3. Program Pathways
  4. Community, Culture and Caring (embedded in all pillars)

These pillars recognize the importance of ensuring that students develop essential skills in reading, writing and math and have an opportunity to participate in experiential learning opportunities so they can make the connection between the classroom and the world of work.

The goal of the Student Success Initiative is to inspire success for all students regardless of which pathway they choose:

  • independent living
  • work
  • apprenticeship
  • college
  • university

Our economy needs a strong workforce in all areas. Many of those areas will not require a college diploma or a university degree, but they will require that students have a secondary school diploma, a strong foundation in character education, and a balance of life skills and work skills. The goal of Rainbow Schools is to build good citizens who can lead happy and productive lives.

When the school, the home and the community work together to maximize student success, we form a powerful partnership that enables each and every student to achieve his or her full potential.

To learn more about the Student Success Initiative, please contact:

Melanie Bertrand
Principal of Student Success
Rainbow District School Board
Centre for Education
Phone: 705-674-3171 ext. 8226
[email protected]

Engaging Students in New and Innovative Ways

The Student Success Initiative is giving students more ways to accumulate credits to graduate, while improving the overall quality of education in Ontario’s secondary schools. Each student is different and in Rainbow Schools we are providing students the opportunity to customize their learning to their individual interests, strengths and needs.

Student Success Teams

Each secondary school has a dedicated team that provides extra attention and support to students when needed. The Student Success Team works with school staff, students, parents/guardians and the community to ensure more students in Rainbow Schools earn the credits they need to graduate.

Co-operative Education

All students can benefit from Co-operative Education. Through Co-operative Education, students develop a reflective habit of mind to derive meaning from their experiences, the ability to apply their learning to influence decisions and actions in various aspects of their lives, and the skills, knowledge and habits of mind required to become competent and confident education and career/life planners. To learn more, contact the guidance office or Co-operative Education teacher at your school.

Specialist High Skills Major

The Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) is a specialized, Ministry of Education approved program that allows students to focus their learning on a specific economic sector while meeting the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). SHSMs assist students in their transition from secondary school to apprenticeship training, college, university or the workplace.

Rainbow District School Board offers Specialist High Skills Majors (SHSM) programs in 13 sectors: Agriculture, Arts and Culture, Business, Construction, Energy, Environment, Health and Wellness, Hospitality and Tourism, Information and Communications Technology, Manufacturing, Mining, Sports and Transportation.

These programs enable students to gain sector-specific skills and knowledge in engaging, career-related learning environments, and prepare in a focused way for graduation and post-secondary education, training or employment.

Dual Credits

Students can earn credits that can be applied towards both their secondary school diploma and their post-secondary diploma, degree or apprenticeship certification. Rainbow District School Board is offering a number of Dual Credit Programs in partnership with Cambrian College.

Fall 2023

  • Applied Technology I
  • College Prep
  • Concurrent Disorders, Mental Health and Addictions
  • Corrections
  • Digital Photography
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Early Childhood Education (Kenjgewin Teg and Manitoulin Secondary School)
  • Electrical for Trades and Tech
  • Fundamentals of Drawing
  • Indigenous Perspectives on Care (Kenjgewin Teg and Manitoulin Secondary School)
  • Internet of Things – Programming and Logic
  • Millwright – Level 1 Apprenticeship
  • Personal Finance
  • Personal Finance (Espanola High School)

Winter 2024

  • Business Professionalism
  • Carpentry I (Kenjgewin Teg and Manitoulin Secondary School)
  • Commercial Vehicle and Heavy Duty Equipment – Level I Apprenticeship
  • Cross-Cultural Understanding
  • Game Design Theory
  • General Carpenter – Level I Apprenticeship
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Indigenous Peoples Today (Espanola High School)
  • Indigenous Perspectives on Care
  • Introduction to Business Management
  • Introduction to Health Sciences Careers
  • Metal Fabricator (Fitter) and Welder – Level I Apprenticeship
  • Multimedia
  • Psychology of Evil
  • Welding Trades Practice (Kenjgewin Teg and Manitoulin Secondary School)

Next Stop: Grade 9

Grade 8 and 9 students have a higher risk of dropping out during the difficult transition from elementary school to secondary school. In Rainbow Schools, elementary and secondary teachers are working together to ease the transition, through special information nights for students/parents, more dialogue between teachers in both panels, increased professional learning to share best practices, and improved tracking of students and their progress.

Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) This Co-operative Education Program gives senior students an opportunity to begin a career in a skilled trade while attending high school. The program is designed to introduce students to a career path that will lead to skilled trades, provide students with the opportunity to develop trade related competencies and accumulate hours toward a skilled trade as a registered or non-registered apprentice and encourage an early start toward a well paid and satisfying career.

OYAP supports Student Success, particularly through program pathways, the Specialist High Skills Majors and the School College Work Initiative. Students with special needs also have an opportunity to select OYAP as an option.

Students may have the opportunity to register, with the support of the OYAP placement employer, in any of the 144 skilled trades. Some of these trades include hairstylist, cook, welder, general carpenter, auto service technician, heavy duty equipment technician or industrial millwright. Registered OYAP apprentices in Millwright, Welding, General Carpentry or Commercial Vehicle and Heavy Duty Equipment may supplement their Co-op experience placements with college delivered level one courses as part of their apprenticeship program. Applications for these limited seats are accepted through the Guidance Department at your school.

Program Pathways Information Evenings

Information evenings for parents/guardians and students will be scheduled in every high school to focus on senior program opportunities in Dual Credits, Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) Programs and the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP)/Co-operative Education. These evenings will highlight recent employment trends to help students set themselves up to be successful in their transition into any post-secondary pathway. Students and parents/guardians can contact their secondary school for the date of their Program Pathways Information Evening.

Experiential Learning

The experiential learning initiative provides meaningful experiential learning opportunities for all students. Schools receive support from the Experiential Learning Co-ordinator to promote student participation, encourage community partner involvement, and build teacher capacity that enables planning and implementation of community-connected experiential learning opportunities.

Steps for Student Success

As a parent, you play an important role in your child’s education.  From the time he/she began Kindergarten to his/her secondary school graduation, one of your parental priorities is to ensure that your child is successful in learning and life.

To help you achieve this, the Rainbow District School Board has developed Steps for Student Success – five tips designed to help you maximize your child’s potential and fulfill his/her aspirations.

Tip #1 – Planning Makes Perfect
One of the first steps to student success is planning.  Effective education planning can take the form of daily parent-child discussions, monthly parent-teacher interviews and/or yearly parent-teacher-child evaluations.  In addition to monitoring student success, planning also allows parents to establish expectations and measure results.

Tip #2 – Parental Participation
Much like your child, you are also an important part of our school community.  Whether it’s the holiday bake sale or the class field trip, your presence will help support the success of our students and our schools.  By becoming actively involved in your child’s education you will be making significant contributions to his/her success inside and outside of the classroom.

Tip #3 – Great Expectations
Children, who are constantly encouraged to fulfill their responsibilities towards school, generally grow up to be great students and great citizens.  To ensure student success, parents should expect their child to complete homework and all other school work, attend school regularly, arrive on time and treat others with respect.

Tip #4 – Communication: The Key to Success
It’s always a good idea to communicate regularly with the school.  Whether you’re calling to report your child’s absence or discussing your child’s progress at a parent-teacher interview, two-way communication will benefit your child immensely.  By communicating regularly, parents and educators have the opportunity to understand the child, address his/her needs and above all, maximize his/her potential.

Tip #5 – Family Support
Student success is maximized when a child has love, support and encouragement from his/her family.  Parents should always try to recognize, encourage and reward their child for good work and good behaviour.  By laying a solid foundation for support, your child will feel confident and capable of achieving his/her best.

Influencing Student Success

You can positively influence your child’s success in school by:

  • Limiting the amount of time your child spends watching television.
  • Ensuring that your child sleeps and eats well.
  • Encouraging your child to realize personal and career goals.
  • Supporting the Rainbow District School Board’s Discipline Policy.
  • Working with the school to resolve any conflicts that may arise.

A Recipe for Student Success

A child needs:

  • Love, encouragement and support from parents, relatives and friends.
  • Caring educators.
  • Quality programs and character education.