Theme for our annual report: The measure of success – what really counts

Egerton Ryerson, the founder of Canada’s public education system, said that apple sectionseducation “is as necessary as the light; it should be as common as water, and as free as air.”

With that in mind, there are two worrying findings in this year’s annual report: First, we have narrowed our definition of success in education so that it’s focused almost exclusively on test results in literacy and math. And second, we’re not giving all students equal access to the educational supports they need, or to the enrichment that is a vital component of a well-rounded education.

This year, for the first time, we compared data from our surveys with data from the Ministry of Education’s School Information Finder. We found that in schools with a high proportion of students who live below the low income cut-off (approximately $30,000 for a family of four), students are more likely to be on special education waiting lists, less likely to be receiving appropriate special education supports and the schools raise, on average, less than half the fundraising amounts raised in schools with more well-off student populations.

Our schools have the potential to change children’s lives. But to do that, all students must have access to the right kinds of supports, a wide range of programs, including thriving school libraries, and all the enrichment in the arts, technology and athletics that schools now fundraise for.

If our definition of success in education goes beyond test scores, as it should, and instead includes a range of competencies that will prepare students to be successful, happy and contributing citizens, then it is time that we come up with a broader vision for education with bigger goals and a more concrete description of the kinds of programs, resources and supports that all students should have access to, no matter where they live, how rich or poor their families, or what their learning needs…

Something to think about as the provincial election approaches.

Have a great summer!

Click here to read the report.

To discuss issues in the annual report, click here.

We couldn’t do this work without help from all the principals and school councils who filled out our surveys this year. Thank you.

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4 responses to “Theme for our annual report: The measure of success – what really counts

  1. anne-marie

    I agree that scores can be important but they are far from the whole story and even have limited predictive value. I don’t remember the specific sources, but I know that it has been shown that students’ grades in school are a much better predictor of their success in post-secondary education than are any test scores. So it is only a piece of the picture. Effort, motivation and attitude are better predictors of success in the workplace. How shall we foster those?

    I hear People for Education asking for a discussion on what the main emphases of our education system should be, and how we should measure and evaluate them — a valuable discussion to have. I do not see them putting forth a “formula” because we need to put some real thought into what that “formula” should be. Making students employable can certainly be a part of it but it is not the whole story.

    Personally I would like to see more public discussion of these issues, and not only by parents of children in school. The education we provide our students today will determine what kind of country we will have tomorrow.

  2. Interesting…quantifying success but is there any other way? If so, how can it be done? Has People for Education presented a non-quantifying formula? I have read the Government documents and your research, but a suggested plan is nowhere to be found. The Government has presented a reasonable statement in the direction of education: the ultimate goal is our students become employed and for that, we need them to score well to further their education and get a “good job”. Its formula is reasonable, what is People for Education’s formula?

  3. Vital parent involvement, the sort that has the most effect on student success is not when parents are involved with their schools, it’s when they are involved with their children at home. That’s a hard thing to measure. Clay, you also seem to be promoting yourself – followed the link to your fundraising website.

  4. “Our schools have the potential to change children’s lives. But to do that, all students must have access to the right kinds of supports…” Unfortunately lack of parental involvement is as big a problem as anything else in the poorer schools when it comes to organizing and raising money.

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