Fraser Institute's School Rankings: A Flawed Picture

Toronto, February 19, 2008- 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.

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For more information, please contact:

Jeff Sprang
OPSBA Communications
(416) 340-2540
2/19/2008