This past Monday, The Fraser Institute trumpeted the release of its annual rating of elementary schools in B.C., with the usual snipes at teachers’ unions and others who don’t support the report.
Over the next few days, expect a rebuttal from education workers and school district staff around the province that the tests aren’t reflective of the full experience of a school.
Also expect criticism of the annual Foundation Skills Assessment tests that are the basis of the Fraser Institute’s statistical analysis — tests that are unpopular enough that in some school districts teacher’s unions will print opt-out forms for parents in community newspapers, urging those with children of the right age to simply clip them and forward them to the right principal.
Here’s another criticism, for the Columbia Valley in particular. The two schools in the valley whose data has been Fraser-ised represent, between them, 62 students at the Grade 4 level. As the institute’s report notes, “indicator results for small schools tend to be more variable than do those for larger schools and caution should be used in interpreting the results.”
There’s also the fact that only half the valley’s elementary schools made the list, and most of the SD6 schools on the list don’t have year over year rankings.
According to Fraser’s website, that’s most likely because the number of students who would be eligible to provide data dropped to fewer than 15 at some point in recent memory, since the option of “school burned down” has been ruled out by a quick look through this paper’s archives.
Parents have a right to know how their children are doing in school, and it’s important that performance data be open and available for scrutiny. But to pretend the Fraser report card has much value for this area — where sending your child on a 30 minutes plus bus ride or moving to Cranbrook are often the only ways to change schools — would be disingenuous at best.
—The Valley Echo