Date of Award


Publication Type


Degree Name





Ontario’s education system, Standardized testing, Knowledge economy


L. Parker


L. Walsh




More than two decades after its introduction, neoliberal ideology has increasingly created a class and race-based gap in relation to student achievement in Ontario’s education system. Due to market-based rhetoric shaping policies and legislation, schools are increasingly encouraging students to adhere to the demands of a newly globalized world with a focus on the economy, regardless of their background. This study aims to analyze the presence of neoliberal reforms in Ontario’s education system through decisions made in government from Mike Harris’ in 1995 to the present Doug Ford administration. Specifically, I investigate how the so-called knowledge economy has produced a system that enables students deemed marketable, often from middle- and upper-class white backgrounds, and disables non-marketable students, most often the working poor and the working class, and racial and ethnic minorities, through funding cuts, heightened accountability, and standardized testing. By evaluating Ministry of Education policy documents and documents for both Conservative Premier campaigns, I analyzed the rhetoric used to introduce, consolidate and solidify neoliberal discourse throughout the past twenty years. The results showed that by simplifying education to quantifiable measures, the education system now measures concepts such as equity and inclusion in schools through standardized testing and monthly reports. Further, the rhetoric used to solidify equity and inclusion within the system focuses more on the presentation of both rather than materializing its action in schools. In order to minimize the current student achievement gap in our education system, funding needs to be focalized in social services cut by our government level to properly re“instate” the intended actions of these policies.