Fraser Institute gives Rupert public schools a failing grade

DWhite is on the track that was taken by a group, I think out of Ontario, that took the FAS numbers, included soci-economic figures and suddenly the poorest performing schools became the highest.

This was done during Roosevelt’s run as lowest school in the province.

So there you have it, take a set of numbers, manipulate them any which way and the results of a test can be read in any direction and benefit whomever.

Look forward to seeing a few more names on the next trustee ballots. Seems we have a number of people who know exactly what it takes to turn this place around… or at least speak as they do…

It’s been a while since I ventured into this particular den of iniquity, but here goes…

If I take a child from a place where the challenge is to teach him how to tie his own shoelaces, to a place where he is talking about Three Billy Goats Gruff, am I (and he) a failure, because he is “not meeting expectations” on a test he knows nothing of, and cares less? Or am I a success?

If a school takes two weeks out of its regular teaching to drill the students on how to succeed on THE TEST, is it doing that for the students, or for its own reputation?

If a right wing think tank deflects every criticism of its own methodology into a default statement that “the union doesn’t want the efforts of its members to be accountable”, is it true? Or is it an ideologically motivated oversimplification?

At the end of the day, what matters are these things:

One - that we take the time to talk to teachers and administrators about how our kids are doing, and ask hard questions if necessary.

Two - that we recognize that teachers in tough circumstances do great work, even if some silly irrelevant test doesn’t show it.

Three - that we (the parents and general public) hold the custodians of education in Prince Rupert (the trustees) accountable for delivering the decisions and results that we (the parents and general public) want.

There is an election in November. By that time, there will be students attending a merged high school, a new (but really quite old) middle school, and there will be a vacant building at the end of 2nd Avenue (joining the vacant buildings at King Edward, Seal Cove, and Kanata). More than enough reason to take an energetic interest in the school board elections.

I Always thought school was supposed to teach students how to learn not to memorize and regurgitate a bunch of meaningless crap.

If you want to rate a school then you should do so based on how well students from said school do in post secondary where you are more responsible for educating yourself. What do I know though. Should probably listen to the liberals propoganda machine

Clearly the test shouldn’t be used to rank schools. Its only use should be for administration, teachers, and parents to better the education outcomes of individual children.

Still, the idea that reading comprehension, writing, and math skills are meaningless crap seems absurd to me. Then again, so is the idea that it’s bad to teach to the test. If a teacher has been doing his or her job, and assuming a child doesn’t have factors in his or her life that disadvantage them from the get-go, is it not fair for the government (or parents for that matter) to expect that their child is at the level they’re supposed to be?

Some time needs to be devoted to the FSA when that time of year comes around so that students are prepared for the format, which would be completely new to fourth graders. Seriously, though–are there really teachers out there saying, “Well, it’s FSA season. Really sneaked up on me this year. I better take two weeks out of my regular teaching to drill the students on things I was already supposed to be teaching them. What is it again? Reading? Writing. Arithmetic? Darn. I always forget those…”

Now, I appreciate that the test is written partway through the year. I’m not sure, but it may very well be that they test students on the entire year’s material despite the fact it’s partway through the year–simply a tool that teachers and parents can use to determine where a child stands. Or maybe the tests are based on where the government thinks a student is supposed to be partway through the year. Either way, teachers should only worry about answering to two groups: parents and the employer. I know when Shirley Bond was education minister she condemned the Fraser Institute’s rankings, I assume the party position is still the same. And at the end of the day, I have a feeling most parents don’t really care about the rankings and really only care about how their kid is doing in school. If they support the rankings, it’s probably political and not because of their own child’s performance.

Why aren’t teachers just content condemning the Fraser Institute? Why do they (and if memory serves it was our district’s union that originally spearheaded the move) have to attempt to get rid of the FSA altogether? Of course, of course, it’s for the kids, because we don’t want to take too much time out of our regular teaching schedule to teach to the test. I remember the last time my teachers told me their actions were for the good of my fellow students and me–we ended up staying at home for two weeks while they sat at picket lines.

I’m confident if you polled parents there would be majority support for the FSA, but teachers use parents and students as their excuse for opposing them. That’s why the Fraser Institute says things like “the union doesn’t want the efforts of its members to be accountable.” As Teacher pointed out, that’s coming from the right wing think tank, so obviously it’s a politically charged comment. All the same, the idea that the teachers’ opposition to the FSA isn’t just as politically motivated is just silly.

Edit: I should be clear, only in my final paragraph where I mention “Teacher” am I specifically referring to the teacher who posted just before me in the thread. This post isn’t intended to be an attack on that person specifically, but rather an expression of my frustration with the majority of teachers’ stance on the FSA issue–and if it’s not the majority, then it’s certainly the overwhelming voice.

Love it…our school did shitty on the FSA’s so lets BLAME schools (in Rupert’s case…Annunciation) for cheating/drilling/coaching students, who performed well…blatant deflecting of real results with baseless lies! Ridiculous!!

I agree that the FSA is not the end all be all in deciding a school’s overall performance, but they certainly are a valid snapshot, one that many people outside the teaching profession take seriously.

I know that in PR the problems in the school are certainly not only the fault of the teachers, I would even say most of the problems are from the parents of these students; there is little to no structure or support systems at home for most of the students in the public school system anymore…no wonder most of them are not performing well (both on these FSA and also in school as well as the high school completion rates have shown).

Aw geez. This is how I see it.
Education is a vehicle that takes us through life.
The students are the engine and the teachers the transmission. They power and move the vehicle.
The parents are the owners of the vehicle. Maintenance, reading the map and offering route suggestions to the driver from the back seat is their responsibility.
The administrators and elected persons steer the vehicle. They drive the vehicle along the most scenic but direct route possible.
bam
Our vehicle careens out of control and hits a wall. Damage is slight but shortly afterwards the vehicle again loses control and this time heads towards a cliff.
What to do? Panic?
Who is responsible? How do we fix this and avoid future catastrophes?
Hold the engine and transmission responsible for moving the vehicle?
Is poor or no vehicle maintenance at fault?
Did the back seat driver give bad information? Or did they reach over and try to steer the vehicle?
Should the operators be at the controls? Were they multi-tasking while driving and not paying attention to the road? Should their license be revoked?
Or should the police (FSA) be blamed for attempting to enforce the rules of the road?
What of the vehicle manufacturer (Ministry)? Is there a design flaw? Did the gas pedal stick to the floor causing the vehicle to lose control?

[quote=“eccentric”]Clearly the test shouldn’t be used to rank schools. Its only use should be for administration, teachers, and parents to better the education outcomes of individual children.

Still, the idea that reading comprehension, writing, and math skills are meaningless crap seems absurd to me. Then again, so is the idea that it’s bad to teach to the test. If a teacher has been doing his or her job, and assuming a child doesn’t have factors in his or her life that disadvantage them from the get-go, is it not fair for the government (or parents for that matter) to expect that their child is at the level they’re supposed to be?

[/quote]

You raise a good point. The rankings are wrong but what is wrong with the test?

As a former high school teacher who was used to seeing government exams, you are probably asking the wrong guy. Perhaps, there is nothing inherently wrong with a mass test that shows how students and schools are doing at a particular time. That information may be valuable.

However, in the present climate, we cannot separate the test from the Fraser Institute. Their rankings drive the discussion and for that reason alone we should get rid of the tests. If we feel the need we could find an alternative that is used less divisively. But in their present format, I am unsure of the value of the FSA tests.

Teachers already evaluate their students. A question might be asked if the tests show whether teachers are accurately evaluating a child’s progress. If a teacher is telling parents that the students are exceeding expectations but the test shows that in fact they are below expectations then we have a problem. But I am guessing that that is probably rare and in those rare cases there are probably explanations.

So if teachers have a good sense of how well their students are doing, what is the purpose of a million dollar test that just confirms what we already know?

As for teaching to the test, you are right that reading, writing and math are integral parts of the curriculum and that if you are not teaching those subjects then you are not doing your job. But the tests are now online and prepping kids for that format to me is an issue. Think of the irony. We are taking valuable time away from reading and math to prepare the kids for a test when we are already aware of the probable results.

And some teachers and schools may take the tests more seriously than others and spend more time on drill for the test to ensure that the students are ready for the test not necessarily more able students. That’s what people mean by teaching to the test.

Finally, the results of the tests are hard to work with. Schools already know that their students are not meeting expectations at the provincial level. So what does Peter Cowley of the Fraser Institute suggest? He says schools should look at other schools and see what they are doing that is different. OK. Roosevelt looks at other schools in Prince Rupert and asks what are you doing differently? And my guess is not much. Please don’t interpret this as a criticism of anybody. All I am saying is that Roosevelt is doing the best they can just as the other schools are.

Of course the other schools in Prince Rupert aren’t doing all that well either so we ask a “better” school what they are doing differently. Let’s ask Crofton House, “What are you doing that allows you to get 10/10 when we get failing grades?” And my guess again is probably not much (except being clever enough to have students who were already reading before entering Kindergarten.)

Lastly, the issue facing poor test results is much bigger than just the schools. In every district across the country, schools are struggling with failing students, poor drop out rates etc. It is easy to identify at risk groups. Prince Rupert has its fair share of at risk students. So when test results show that we are doing “poorly” it is no surprise. But we will continually beat ourselves up over those results.

I think Prince Rupert is trying despite the economic difficulties of the last decade or so which by the way coincides nicely with the introduction of FSA testing. We have early education programs. We are trying to find solutions that will help our First Nations students.

Again I am no apologist. A lot more can and should be done. But Prince Rupert cannot be expected to solve some of these problems that are national problems. And there is no quick fix solution. We can’t just go out and buy a bunch of boxes of Hooked on Phonics and watch the scores rise.

The public should continue to ask questions and demand solutions. That’s a given. But I don’t think we should base the argument around FSA test scores.

My nephew attended a private school at his parents behest for the first 10 years of his education. He chose to attend public school for grade 11 and 12 because he believed he would have more selection for electives. When I asked him how he would compare the two he announced that they were exactly the same, and added that the teachers all get the same training so how could it be that much different. Just another perspective to add more fuel to the fire.

[quote=“bthedog”]
I agree that the FSA is not the end all be all in deciding a school’s overall performance, but they certainly are a valid snapshot, one that many people outside the teaching profession take seriously.[/quote]

They aren’t a valid snapshot of a school, though. The kids at Roosevelt (sorry Roosevelt, you always seem to be the example) are FAR less likely to have the same support at home as Annunciation kids. There are kids at every other school in town that perform just as well, and in many cases better than the kids from Annunciation. There are simply more kids per classroom at Annunciation who have the kind of support required to succeed than the other schools.

And I kinda hate saying it–I worry that people see that and assume I’m saying “Annunciation is better.” The reality is, there are socio-economic issues in play that even the best teachers can’t fix. I would be willing to bet that if we swapped every teacher at Annunciation with every teacher at Roosevelt, we’d still see the same results.

That’s a good point, I hadn’t thought of that at all. All I remember from my prep was “bring an HB pencil.”

Two students, one from a middle class family the other from a family on social assistance write at test. They have to complete the following analogy:

Many - none , full - ______

The middle class student’s answer:

Many - none, full - empty

The low-income family student’s answer:

Many - none, full - hungry

The Fraser Institute will say that only the middle class student got it right.
I think they both have the right answer.

[quote=“Orithia”]“after years of bad scores from Prince Rupert schools, Hauptman outright refuses to comment on them”

[/quote]

Aw geez. Not an appropriate stance for a public official to take. Some parents care to know and have a right to know.
Hauptman is acting like Mayor Jack. “No you may not…”

Commenting on the scores validates them. She’s taking exactly the right stance.

I’m not sure I agree. If my family and I moved to town and read this comment from a person in Mrs.Hauptman’s position, it wouldn’t give a great first impression.

Pretending that something doesn’t exist isn’t the proper stance an official should take. Yes, I know the topic of the Fraser Institute has been beat into the ground, but the response to the Fraser Institutes results from Mrs. Hauptman could have warranted something a little more well thought of.

Personally, I don’t draw much of a conclusion from their “snapshot” results. The socio-economic climate in Prince Rupert ( and most municipalities) spans extremes. Statistics can be interpreted in both directions.
The writing may be on the wall regarding the future of this sort of test.

Aw geez. In an earlier posting you said, “I’m confident if you polled parents there would be majority support for the FSA, but teachers use parents and students as their excuse for opposing them.”

Whether there is a majority of parents supporting the FSA or not, having the superintendent give a flippant dismissal of the results is just arrogant. And if the majority of parents do support the FSA, as you confidently pointed out, then Hauptman is not only arrogant but is also alienating her community.

Two seperate issues.

Ask her about the FSA and you might get a response, and we know her response to the Fraser institute’s document which uses the FSA results.

here is a thought about the FSA’s are they not supposed to be a test on what a student already should know by the time they reach the grade it is given? is it the teacher’s fault that the kids up here don’t do so well? could be, could be the parents fault for not taking an active roll in their child’s education as well, lets face it there are good teachers and bad teachers, there are good parents and bad parents, lets lay equal blame here. lets stop the political crap and actually try to do better, as for social economical defense that is crap , 60 minutes did a story on a school that had only a 20% graduation rate, a new principle came in and got it up to around 70% graduation rate within 5 years, if i remember it was in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in newyork, he just cracked the whip on everybody from teachers parents and students

Wonder what grade this post would receive from a teacher, school administrator or the Fraser Institute for that matter?

Thats what we need, Morgan Freeman needs to ressurect his “Batman” character to whip this community into shape…“Lean on Me…when your not strooong…”
The Prince Rupert version has Batman - played by Ajaye!!! And Lean on me perfomed by Triple By Pass!

[quote=“chiefdave”]

Thats what we need, Morgan Freeman needs to ressurect his “Batman” character to whip this community into shape…“Lean on Me…when your not strooong…”
The Prince Rupert version has Batman - played by Ajaye!!! And Lean on me perfomed by Triple By Pass![/quote]

If anyone has old pictures of Herbie the Halibut (the costume mascot of days gone by) this would be the time to post them, we give you our new super hero for Rupert.

What super powers could Herbie have one wonders?

IMHO, it wouldn’t be so bad to have a school or two at the bottom of the list if there wasn’t such a clear GROUPING of virtually ALL our schools at the bottom third of the list.

The distance between Westview and Roosevelt seems fairly minimal when you look at the point values given each school…however, when one uses the graph function to check the data, only Roosevelt seems to be on a decidedly downward slope. The other schools bounce around a bit and stay fairly constant…actually, Lax K’xeen is the only public school to completely level; all the others dropped significantly from last year to this year.

A couple other oddities I noted: Bountiful ranked perfect at a “10” but one other school (St George’s) was rated “10” and was given a downward arrow for trending poorly. Still perfect, but not as perfect as before, I guess. And another school (Mormon Hills) in Lister, where Bountiful is, cracked the top 100 so whatever they did over there, they did it district wide.