Toronto, February 13, 2007- The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA) is deeply concerned about the Fraser Institute’s publication that ranks elementary schools. Of particular concern is how the report misuses the province’s EQAO results.
EQAO test results are specifically designed to provide useful information to improve our learning programs, but it’s misleading to compare schools based only on these scores. Test scores 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 consistently use EQAO results to help our teachers and schools to develop strategies to improve student learning and achievement,” said OPSBA president Rick Johnson. “The published ranking, however, undermines the purposes of valid evaluation and testing measures; discourages and demoralizes teachers; and belittles the efforts of our students.”
In her book The Cult of Efficiency, Janice Gross Stein writes, “The Report Card, issued by the Fraser Institute, is a good example of how not to use comparative measures to judge effectiveness.”
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 students need extra help to improve their reading, writing, and math. Tests are only useful if they are used to improve student learning. Contrary to what the Fraser Institute report would have the public believe, there is no evidence to show that ranking schools improves student learning.
“EQAO test results are a matter of public record. What is important is how we use them. School boards in partnership with the Ministry of Education use them to plan improvement in school performance and we are working together to make sure effort and resources are directed to achievement of academic success for all our students,” said Rick Johnson.
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