Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fraser Institute school rankings

The Toronto Sun has some stories about the Fraser Institute school rankings.  As a supply teacher who has taught at most of the elementary schools in my board, what can I interpret from the Fraser Institute rankings?  I know that schools in well-off neighbourhoods ranked high; schools in poorer neighbourhoods and communities ranked low.  Schools that have gifted programs also ranked high.

Based on my general observation, the quality and consistency of teaching is high in my board.  Many of the best teachers work in schools that ranked low on the Fraser Institute ranking.  Yet, these same teachers face the challenge of motivating their students to value the importance of education when many of the students' parents lack higher education.  Teachers work with students to create a sense of community so that the students can participate in extra curricular activities where they feel accepted by others.   Beyond the usual volleyball and basketball clubs, teachers and other staff create outdoor skating rinks in the wintertime.  Teachers get students to participate in African drumming.  Note: most of the students are white.  Schools provide low cost karate classes so that students can participate in activities that children in well-off neighbourhoods would do in the evenings in their communities.

One could transfer the teachers between the highest and lowest Fraser Institute ranked schools, and one would likely not see any differences in improvement.  In fact, the schools would likely display poorer Fraser Institute results because the transferred teachers would likely not understand the needs of their new students (at least not right away).

If one reads the Fraser Institute Report Card, one will receive little information about student success in learning.  The only information one can interpret is where the good neighbourhoods are located, plus where there might be programs for gifted students.

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