Evaluation of Ontario’s Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) Program released

The Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (AESD) released today the report of the evaluation of its Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) Program prepared by Cathexis Consulting Inc.*

The key message of the evaluation is described as:

The LBS program is providing a vital, valued, and effective service to Ontarians. Its key components—the OALCF and the Performance Management Framework (PMF)—are well designed. However, serious problems have arisen in the implementation of these components. These problems stem from fragmented leadership, poor relations between the Ministry and the field, threats to sustainability (including inadequate funding) and a lack of a clear vision for whom the program is intended to serve. The Ministry and the field must work collaboratively to rebuild cooperative relations and clarify LBS’s mission, so that the program can address Ontario’s literacy needs with greater efficacy, efficiency, and accountability.

I’ve attached both the Executive Summary (Cathexis – LBS Executive Summary – 2016) and the full report (Cathexis – LBS Evaluation Report – 2016). Take a look at the last two pages of the Executive Summary for a description of the key recommendations. The full set of recommendations are in the final report beginning on page 165.

AESD’s posting of this report is a positive first step towards responding to the evaluation findings. The evaluation reinforces the value of LBS and the work of the practitioners and organizations across the province. For those outside Ontario, the evaluation provides an insight to how a large jurisdiction like Ontario organizes and manages its literacy delivery system.

You can access the full report and the Executive Summary at: http://www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/eopg/programs/lbs_updates.html

*Full disclosure – I was a member of the Cathexis Consulting team that performed the evaluation.


About Brigid Hayes

Brigid Hayes has developed an expertise in learning that spans almost 30 years as a senior policy advisor, program manager and partnership developer. Her knowledge of and experience in workplace literacy and learning has contributed to her recognition as an expert in this field, and she has undertaken significant activities to both help promote and enhance literacy and lifelong learning. Brigid works as an independent consultant and expert advisor on learning, literacy, and work. She has successfully developed a strategic planning and policy development practice involving workplace literacy, essential skills, partnership development, research, and evaluation.
This entry was posted in Literacy and Essential Skills, Provincial/Territorial Governments and Literacy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Evaluation of Ontario’s Literacy and Basic Skills (LBS) Program released

  1. ChristinePJ says:

    Thank you Brigid and the Cathexis team!!! I just read the Executive Summary and am both moved and astounded to see an official government funded evaluation that refuses to shy away from tackling numerous difficult issues. Someone in MAESD also deserves acknowledgement for allowing the report to finally be released. It is so much more productive to have a conversation, no matter how difficult, and not malign, ignore and spin the challenges, hoping they simply disappear. Let the real work of supporting and revitalizing Ontario’s Literacy and Basic Skills program begin!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alan Cherwinski says:

    It is a great relief to see the solid work of Cathexis released for public scrutiny. LBS workers and learners are also to be commended for entering into the evaluation in good faith and having the courage to speak the truth. The Aboriginal Case Study is particular powerful and resonates with accounts from across all cultural streams.

    I challenge the characterization of the content of the PMF as “well designed” I agree that the concept and initiative had merit, but can’t attribute the problems solely to implementation.

    I hope the recommendation A.4 is acted on up quickly: “The process of building strong mutual relationships of collaboration and trust will represent a deep systems change, and is therefore a complex and lengthy process that must occur at multiple levels (systems, policies, and measures; norms, behaviours and practices; and beliefs and assumptions). To facilitate this process, engage an expert who specializes in supporting change within organizations and systems.


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