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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:

Heather Gaffney
Principal of Student Success
Rainbow District School Board
Centre for Education
Phone: 705.523.3308
Fax: 705.523.3314
[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

Every secondary school now has a dedicated team that provides extra attention and support to students when needed. The Student Success Team is made up of the Principal, the Student Success Teacher, a guidance counselor, and special education staff.

Together, they identify and support struggling students, provide more options for learning and monitor student progress. Each 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.

Expanded Co-op Credit

Students can apply two co-op credits towards their compulsory graduation requirements. When students make the connection between the classroom and the world of work, learning becomes that much more relevant. This hands-on experience gives students an opportunity to test drive career options.

Rainbow Schools are developing stronger partnerships between education, business, and community organizations in order to increase the number of co-op and job placement opportunities for students in Sudbury, Espanola and Manitoulin.

Specialist High Skills Major

Rainbow District School Board offers Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) programs in seven sectors: Arts and Culture, Business, Energy, Environment, Health and Wellness, Manufacturing and Mining.  Each Specialist High Skills Major is a bundle of 8 to 10 courses in a selected field.  Students learn on the job and can earn valuable industry certification.

Dual Credit Program

Students can earn credits that can be applied to their secondary school diploma as well as their postsecondary diploma, degree, or apprenticeship certification.

Dual Credit Programs are offered at Cambrian College in a variety of sectors including Chef Training, Business, Arts, Health Sciences, Trades, Technology and a number of Level 1 Apprenticeship programs.

Design and Technology for Grade 7 and 8 students

A design and technology program was developed and launched with Grade 7 and 8 students at Lively District Secondary School and Chelmsford Valley District Composite School.  Each Rainbow District School Board elementary school now have the opportunity to offer the program in all Grade 7 and 8 classrooms.

Making the Transition from Grade 8 to 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.

Program Pathways Information Evenings

Information evenings for parents 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 postsecondary pathway.

Students and parents/guardians can contact their secondary school for the date of their Program Pathways Information Evening.

Co-op Opportunities in Early Childhood Education

The Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) will offer Co-op placement opportunities in early childhood education within Rainbow Schools. Students who wish to follow this apprenticeship pathway will be registered as Early Childhood Educator apprentices. Rainbow District School Board will act as the sponsor.

Students may also enroll in college delivered courses through distance education at no cost during the evenings to enhance their Early Childhood Educator work experience placements.

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.

Registered Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) apprentices may supplement their Co-op work experience placements with college delivered level one courses as part of their apprenticeship program. Students may have the opportunity to register in any of the 150+ skilled trades. Some of these trades include hairstylist, cook, welder, general carpenter, auto service technician, heavy duty equipment technician, parts technician and automotive glass technician.

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.