In 2003 Ontario’s schools were in a troubled state. The achievement of students was ‘good’ but flat lined — stagnant results year after year. Morale of teachers was low; the schools as a whole could be characterized as ‘loosely-coupled’ and without focus. The system was downtrodden.

Now in early 2013, the overall performance of the almost 5,000 schools in the province has dramatically improved on most key measures, and continues to improve. According to international measures and independent expert assessment, Ontario is recognized as and is proven to be the best school system in the English-speaking world — and right up at the top with Finland, Singapore and South Korea.

As Premier Dalton McGuinty leaves office, in this paper we will review key aspects of the journey, and set the tasks for the next phase. Nine years of steady improvement is impressive. This is a long time for a system to sustain success. Going from good to great has not been easy. But past experience with large-scale reform suggests it would be all too possible to falter at this stage. The biggest obstacle to further success is the self-satisfaction with what we have accomplished. There is much more to do in going forward. What is needed is a focused launch to the next level of performance. Only a sustained commitment to doing better will keep our global leadership in place.