Posts tagged ‘Fraser Institute’

June 2, 2013

The debate over standardized testing in schools is as divisive as ever

By Rachel Giese and Caroline Alphonso | Published May 31 2013 by The Globe & Mail


Others remain unconvinced. Large-scale tests “are asked to assess too many things,” argues Daniel Laitsch, an associate professor of education at Simon Fraser University. He feels that, no matter what the stated purpose, they are meant to measure, along with student achievement, that of teachers, schools, curriculum and entire jurisdictions as well, which stretches their validity in appraising any of them.

In fact, Prof. Laitsch calls testing students “an atrocious way to evaluate teacher effectiveness, without any research to support the theory.”

Toronto resident Maxeen Paabo agrees and has decided that her son will not participate in this year’s Grade 3 tests. She researched the issue, and reached her conclusion even before the school year began.

“I think the way it is now and the way it’s being used politically is wrong, and it’s a misuse of resources,” she says.

“What the ministry [of education] said is that it is used on a student level, on a class level and on a school level to make improvements. But my understanding on the ground is that that isn’t really happening, that teachers’ regular classroom assessments are doing all that work.”


And does it really keep the system on track? In fact, the correlation between standardized testing and achievement appears to be fuzzy. With myriad factors affecting the education system – among them demographic and economic changes, fluctuation in education budgets, shifts in curriculum – it’s impossible to say unequivocally that where scores have gone up, it’s in any way because of standardized tests.

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May 1, 2012

Fraser Institute flunks on grading high schools

By GARY MASON published May 1, 2012 in the  Globe and Mail

The teachers at Hazelton Secondary quit worrying about the Fraser Institute’s rankings of B.C. high schools a long time ago.

When the conservative think tank started publishing its report card on B.C. schools years ago, teachers there used to do a slow burn. The schools at the top were always private institutions or public ones on the west side of Vancouver that had a wealth of resources most other schools could only dream of having.

The schools at the bottom of the rankings were always ones like theirs, in mostly aboriginal communities.

Years later and little has changed with the ratings.

It’s easy to understand why the Fraser Institute’s grading system infuriates so many people. Comparing schools like Hazelton to a private college or a high school from any of the dozens and dozens of affluent neighbourhoods in the province that has none of their problems is absurd.

The top-ranked high school in B.C. for the second year in a row is York House, an all-girls academy on Vancouver’s west side. The Fraser Institute’s ratings are based on a range of indicators. For instance, according to the report, the percentage of students at York House who failed a provincial exam in 2010-11 was zero. The graduation rate at the school for the year measured was 100 per cent.

In recent years, the report added a new rating, one based on the average parental-employment income in each student’s family. A positive number, according to the report, suggests that the school is effective in enabling its students to succeed regardless of their family’s characteristics.

York House got a positive score of 2.0, based on an average family income of $118,000.

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November 21, 2011

Ranking Schools in Quebec’s Multi-Tiered Education System

By Jim Wilson

A headline dealing with school league table recently published by the Fraser Institute could easily read that “Results again confirm a serious division in Quebec society”

Schools occupying the top spots do so by utilizing an exclusion policy based on an entrance examination. The strong students are given priority and the weaker are excluded, otherwise, why have an entry exam? By selecting the more academically able, those schools, overwhelmingly in the private sector, virtually guarantee that their students will obtain high grades on provincial examinations .It is not the school, nor the teachers, but the selection process that mostly shapes this outcome. Regardless of intellect, children from lower income families would find it difficult to find funds for private schools

Provincial examination results are the base from which these league tables are derived, but their statistical validity is questionable, the most glaring error is the omission of dropout rates. After all; dropouts do not write exams so the dropouts do not fit in the statistical compilation Schools in the more deprived areas fare poorly in the rankings, but if dropout rates were incorporated into the statistics the educational chasm between rich and poor students could be even wider.

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