Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fraser Institute Nanaimo Report Cards

School Report Cards Tell A Story
Clearly Nanaimo Is Doing A Poor Job
14/25 Schools Failed

To view the online report card for Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District click HERE. Once there you will have to use the the drop down menus on the left 'Find an FI-rated school by location' to choose the Nanaimo District 68 schools, report cards.
While forms of testing and rating can be debated forever as to the methods and the value of the results, this report clearly shows room for improvement in the level of basic skills our young people are comprehending.
Educators who not surprisingly, seem unwilling to accept the tests results as a means of evaluating their own skill as teachers, will point to the fact that some schools have students with greater life challenges than others, which makes it more difficult for them to learn. The question to be asked would be: are these students having more trouble learning, or do the teachers in these schools need a different approach in their methods?
It is obvious that if you have a school full of Einsteins and another full of just average kids, their overall test scores should be higher. For that reason just comparing local schools tells less of a story than comparing local schools by rank with the 875 schools in the report and by comparing if the school itself is improving or not.
For example Park Avenue Elementary ranks 870/875 for 2009-10 while dropping from 2.2 to 1.1 out of a possible 10.0 when the results of the tests for their grade 4 and grade 7 students are evaluated.
If you compare a schools ranking when compared to the other 875 schools in the province you will see another story which, if correct is a disturbing result. Out of 875 schools in the province 14 of Nanaimo's 25 schools scored in the bottom 25% for the entire province. For example Rutherford Elementary scored 652/875 and Park Avenue Elementary scored 870/875. This means that Nanaimo's test scores when compared with the entire province put 56% of Nanaimo schools in the bottom 25% for the whole province.
To look at the results another way and using some old fashioned methods of comparison it means that if 10 is a perfect test score (achieved by Aspengrove) then 10 = 100%. Therefore a score of 4.8 (achieved by Rutherford) is 48%. Following applies test scores as a percentage:
  • 1 school scored 100%
  • 2 schools scored 72 - 79%
  • 3 schools scored 61 - 66%
  • 5 schools scored 51 - 59%
  • 14 schools scored 10 - 48%
I realize that modern educators don't like using percentages, but they are a very clear means of comparison, and in this case it would suggest that 14 of the schools in the district have turned in test scores ranging from 10% - 48%, and again,using an old fashioned yard stick, that means that 14 schools out of 25 are failing to teach the basics of reading, writing and 'rithmetic. To say that the next  5 schools turning in results of 51 - 59% actually passed is being a bit generous, so if they were added it would mean that 19 out of 25 district 68 schools are failing to teach the basics.

In the District 17 schools ratings declined compared to the most recent 5 years, 4 improved and 4 remained the same.

It would be hard to think that Nanaimo has been able to assemble so many 'un-teachable' young people in one place and clearly the problem and solution more than likely lies with the methods and teachers being charged with preparing the next generation.

I realize that tests, and their methods can be challenged, and perhaps the present method is less than perfect, but it does give an interesting insight into the state of schools in our district. As much as the teachers, and their unions are opposed to testing, I am reminded of an old saying that has stuck with me many years:

"Figures don't lie, and liars don't figure".

These tests are dealing with grade 4 and grade 7 students and tests their reading, writing and numeracy skills which are the most basic of skills the next generation needs to have as a foundation for future education and any life path they would choose.

It makes you wonder if the upcoming two weeks off for Spring Break shouldn't be scrapped, and the time spent back in the classroom trying to see if we can't teach our kids the 3-R's at least to a passing level!

Comment: Hopefully come next school board election these results will become an issue and perhaps we will start paying more attention to how well our kids are being prepared by the current school system in Nanaimo. Of course it would make little sense to ask the current school board about it, as they are the ones, who thought it wise to throw out $70 million worth of improvements to local schools.


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