What was it before?


Headline of an Ontario government press release:

School Boards’ Top Priority is Now Student Achievement

Filed under:

What was it before?

  1. Students' education?

  2. That's the funniest thing I have read today. Educating children is about fifth in list of priorities for ontario's education system.

  3. "What was it before?" would seem on the face of it to be a good question but there is actually a bit more to this press release than would seem to be the case.

    Back when Ontario took over control of the curriculum for the entire province what had previously been Boards of Education became District School Boards. Not mere semantics as the setting of the curriculum became the perview of the Ministry of Education while the new school boards were in charge of the managment of the physical sites of the schools, salaries (not for teachers), supplies and other such "mundane" matters.

    Top priority was therefore more managerial in essence rather than performance-based.

    See, sometimes all is not as clear is might seem.

  4. Sadly, I don't think educating students is particularly high on ANY province's list of priorities for their educational system. "Achievement", sure. Gotta get the kids acing those standardized tests, and give diplomas (illustrating their "success") to as many of them as you can, but actually EDUCATING the youth of the nation?

    What a quaint notion.

  5. Sorry, should be purview.

  6. Three good friends of mine are teachers. The stories they tell make my toes curl. If ranting about Ont's educational system was a sport, I would make our olympic team.

    My major complaint is that standards/expectations are way too low. I have a test that my grandfather took when he was 10 – there are latin questions, geometry, physics, biology, history – and now we applaud if our ten year olds can spell their names and tie their shoes.

  7. Hear, hear.

    Any measure of the success of an educational institution that includes the percentage of students who graduate is fundamentally flawed imho. I mean, I can single handedly get us to 100% graduation rates by dinner. Not all of the graduates will be able to read mind you, but they'll all have "achieved" graduation.

    And don't get me started on standardized tests, an excellent way of gathering statistics on how many of your students can be taught how to do well on a standardized test! The youth of tomorrow will go far with that skill!!!

  8. See that's interesting, thanks for the context. So it's not so much that the School Boards are focusing on something that perhaps they should have been focusing on all along, but that their mandate was changed by the previous government and is now being somewhat restored.

    I still don't love what they're apparently measuring, or how they're measuring it, but it's more meaningful than just counting pencils and hiring plumbers I suppose.

  9. I don't see what's so terrible about standardized tests provided they're well-used. Using them as the sole or primary barometer of students' learning (or worse, of what funding a school should receive) isn't good. Using them to provide a minimum baseline – ensuring students can read and understand texts and do math problems at their grade level – is valuable, because it shows if some schools are having serious problems. I've known students who got to grade 4 or higher without learning to read – standardized tests should be able to catch that sort of thing.

    Expectations need to be a lot higher than basic reading, writing and math skills – but it's also essential to know if schools are failing to teach students even those skills.

  10. Well, I wouldn't necessarily say that there's no place whatsoever for standardized tests, but I think they're likely more an impediment to education than a benefit. I'd be willing to bet that with the right training (I won't say "teaching") a student who was basically functionally illiterate could be coached to do just fine, thank you very much, on a standardized test of "literacy".

  11. "I've known students who got to grade 4 or higher without learning to read – standardized tests should be able to catch that sort of thing."

    It is not that difficult for even a semicomatose teacher to spot the things you are concerned about – the three Rs. Teachers start teaching to the tests once they are introduced and education is skewered.

  12. Another problem, potentially worse, would be teachers (or a system, not so much individuals) that is so bothered by kids failing that they just don't fail them.

    It's like a surprise from Oprah: You get a diploma, and YOU get a diploma, and YOU get a diploma… EVERYBODY GETS A DIPLOMA!!!!

  13. New broadloom for the boardroom?

  14. Lower Class Sizes!

    (IE More teachers)

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