I’m going to quote or at least paraphrase Wayne Hulley again. “Nobody wakes up in the morning and wonders how they’re going to screw up today.” Followed by “Parents send the best kids that they have to our schools. They don’t keep the good ones at home.”
And yet, if you read the headlines from the past couple of days, you’d wonder. The Fraser Report was released and it ranks schools from top to bottom based upon testing. I even downloaded both the elementary and secondary school rankings for some reason (train wreck?) to see where schools that I’ve taught or attended ranked and was dismayed to see that some of them weren’t even included in the report.
Newspapers were all over it as a Google search shows.
I spent some time yesterday morning reading news articles:
- Toronto Sun – Many students still far below provincial standards
- Windsor Star – Villanova ranks high, Forster ranks worst in Windsor: Fraser Institute Report
- Kenora Daily Miner & News – Fraser Report: Many Ont. students below standards
- Northern Life – St. Benedict tops local high schools: Fraser Institute
- London Free Press – For schools, a good news/bad news scenario
- London Free Press – MacDonald: Fraser report card should be assigned reading for parents
As I read, I really did get hot under the collar. Kudos do need to be given to the high ranking schools. Somehow, they’ve mastered the art of testing. Hopefully, it is as a result of the calibre of the teaching, of the students, of the learning that happens daily. I would hate to think that it was the result of a concentrated effort to do well on the test at the expense of a rounded, quality education.
One of the articles quoted one of the authors of the report as saying that poverty is no excuse. I guess that the students who have to work long into the evenings to help hold the family together will somehow learn to the same extent of students that don’t. Or, somehow those students who are in ESL programs or require regular assistance have the same likelihood of doing well on the test. I wonder if the authors or the newspapers that seemed to take delight in reporting either end of the spectrum would do well in a quickie immersion course in a new language and then be expected to perform as well as those who have English as their native tongue.
I think the most disappointing part was reading the comments to the online articles where the newspaper allows them. At times, they show a very hurtful and insensitive readership who use the fact that they can remain anonymous as rationale for letting lose at schools, students, neighbourhoods, the unemployed, those new to Canada, teachers, and school boards. Predictably, the comments were directed towards the lower ranked schools with hardly a mention of the higher ranked ones.
Yes, there are students who are below provincial standards. There will always be those that are. What bothers me most are the comments about those students and the schools that they attend. It must just be a banner day to go to school after reading that.
One of the comments from the authors was that the ranking would serve as motivation for the province. If that’s the case, then certainly lets celebrate and share the successes of the highest performing schools. What is working at Sainte-Marguerite-Bourgeoys in Markham or Masonville in London at the elementary panel or St. Michael’s Choir in Toronto at the secondary panel. What are they doing that make them so successful in testing? Does it translate into real education opportunities at those schools? If so, the province wants to know. If the goal is improvement, then lets celebrate those that ranked highly. Let’s resist the urge to kick those that are down.
I see no point in publically identifying these other schools. Let the school boards and principals know the actual scores. But, save the school, the neighbourhood, and most importantly the students the public spotlight.
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