• Raising the Bar and Closing the Gap? Investigating Learning for All’s Capacity to Support Marginalized Students in Ontario

      Carlsson, Rebekah
      Learning for All (2013) is a resource guide, published by Ontario’s Ministry of Education, that aims to “raise the bar and close the gap in achievement for all students” (p. 3). It is intended to be used by school boards to support system-level planning and informs professional development and local policy directives (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2013). Learning for All does acknowledge that outcome disparities are more prevalent between certain demographic groups, but it avoids any discussion of the complex factors that cause this inequity. This paper explores the research on economically and racially marginalized students in Canada, to reveal the institutional, pedagogical, and ideological factors that produce this education inequity. From this research informed position, I offer a critical policy analysis of Learning for All guided by Paul Gorksi & Katy Swalwell’s Equity Literacy Framework (2015), which demonstrates that the strategies prescribed in Learning for All will not only fail to ‘close the gap’ but may also rein-force deficit thinking amongst educators, thereby exacerbating the problem. Finally, this paper concludes with recommended structural and pedagogical changes, as well as opportunities for future research to better address the barriers that marginalized students face and the shortcomings of Learning for All.