Duncan – Every year the Ministry of Education tests students in grades 4 and 7 with standard tests in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Ostensibly, the purpose is to analyze trends in how well our system stacks up against the past, the good old days of the three R’s, and against the rest of the world. Since the information is collected publicly, those results are made public. Various groups, government and private, are free to use those for analysis.
One group, the Fraser Institute, publishes comparative statistics at the school level, effectively “ranking’ schools against one another. For kids the FSA is just another test. My kids did them and it seemed no big deal. Some have taken exception to the Fraser Institute report, and would like to throw the baby out with the bathwater, saying the very test should be banned.
It’s instructive that the initial outcry against the tests preceded the first ranking report and that the alarm was raised by the teachers unions. Why would teachers object to testing? Some say that teachers object to the fact that because the tests are standardized they can be used to compare schools and to measure individual teachers. While the data does give school level results it does not identify students or teachers, only schools and districts.
Here’s why I think the teachers unions are against this testing: it shows teachers are doing a pretty good job. B.C. has a great ranking educationally, and that’s bad if you want to reduce class sizes and increase wages and benefits. While school rankings can highlight differences, it’s mostly a red herring to stir up opposition.
B.C. teachers should take pride. We compare very well against the rest of the world. We should all be proud!