Fraser Institute's School Rankings - A Flawed Picture



    TORONTO, Feb. 19 /CNW/ - The Ontario Public School Boards' Association
(OPSBA) once again takes issue with the Fraser Institute's publication that
ranks elementary schools. This report misuses the province's Education Quality
and Accountability Office (EQAO) results to create a superficial picture of
the place of schools in the lives of children and families.
    EQAO test results are specifically designed to provide useful information
about students' skill levels in reading, writing and mathematics. The purpose
of the information is to allow educators to focus on aspects of classroom
programs and teaching practice that will improve the learning that children
experience. It is misleading to take information collected for this defined
purpose and turn it into a "top ten" chart of schools. Test results are just
one piece of the whole picture about a school. Judgments of school quality
should be based on the complete picture of all the programs and features of a
school. Profile of the school community; needs of the students; support of
parents; and availability of resources are just some of the factors that
contribute to student achievement.
    "Boards use EQAO results to help our teachers and schools to develop
strategies to improve student learning and achievement," said OPSBA president
Colleen Schenk. "The published ranking, however, undermines the purposes of
valid assessment measures, discourages and demoralizes teachers, and belittles
the efforts of our students."
    The EQAO itself has challenged the practice of ranking schools as
simplistic and misleading: "Ranking ignores the important story behind each
school and its trends over time. Ranking distracts people from addressing the
more critical issue of how to improve learning for all students."
    In the international arena, where assessments of Ontario and Canadian
students are very high, attention is also focussed on equity in student
achievement. The Ontario public school system is justifiably proud of the fact
that socio-economic factors play a much smaller role in differences in
achievement among Ontario students than is the case almost anywhere else in
the world.
    The Fraser Institute's ranking distracts us from the qualities of schools
that matter. As with the board-wide or province-wide results, school scores
should not be seen as absolutes - they are indicators of where changes in
program and teaching practice can help students further improve their reading,
writing, and math. Tests are only useful if they are used to improve the
learning experience in classrooms. Ranking schools does not improve student
learning. What happens in schools as a result of well-analyzed achievement
data is what improves student learning. Parents know this and so should the
Fraser Institute.





For further information:

For further information: Jeff Sprang, OPSBA Communications, (416)
340-2540


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