The Fraser Institute provides annual reports on elementary and secondary schools. In this report, they rank schools based on a formula that they have created. A key component of the ranking is EQAO scores.
The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) began its work in 1996 and has “distinguished itself as a world-class large-scale testing organization that provides valuable services to the people of Ontario with a focus on improving student learning” (EQAO: Ontario’s Provincial Assessment Program Its History and Influence 2012)
Schools and school systems use the data as part of the information to create school improvement plans that are unique and personalized to individual schools and individual systems. This data includes performance on the assessments, longitudinal data and surveys completed by students, teachers or Principals. Other data is used too, such as data from teacher assessments, report card data and data such as pass/ fail rates and credit accumulation.
School improvement plans are living documents that are reviewed, revised and renewed as the school year progresses. They are foundational plans that help schools create a path for improving student achievement and well being. They are built through collaboration with teachers, support staff, administrators and Principals. They are not about ranking, they are about actions to take to improve learning for all.
In my opinion, ranking schools does not make schools better. In fact, as stated in other sources, ranking schools undermines the work being done to improve learning. Ranking schools can demoralize staff and parents and undermine the efforts of our students.
So what makes a school successful? Ask any student, any parent, or anyone who has ever attended school what makes a school successful and you may get many different answers, all dependent on an individual’s experience. There are common themes in the work of reknowned leaders and researchers such as Michael Fullan, about what makes a great school. A focus on students through continued instructional improvement is central to those themes. I recently read a blog by Jim McGuire, a blogger and teacher from Ohio, who summed up what he thought made a good school. He outlines characteristics of a good school that include: a climate that ensures that parents are partners and that students want to be there, high expectations for the school, the students and the staff, and an individualized approach to instruction and strong leadership.
There is considerable research continuing on what makes a good school and what makes a good school system. Ask your child and ask yourself: What makes my school successful? That should be the answer that counts the most!
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