This Fraser Institute graph compares SD69 elementary schools based on Fundamental Skills Assessment test results and other indicators based on those test results. School District 69 and others are seeking for the Ministry of Education to not provide the names of schools or districts when publicly publishing overall test scores, calling the process of ranking schools unfair. — Fraser Institute screen capture

Qualicum district wants an end to public circulation of school test scores

Letter sent to ministry asks what steps have been made to mask identity of schools, districts

School District 69 (Qualicum) has sent a letter asking the Ministry of Education what it’s doing to hide the names of schools and districts when releasing test scores to the public.

A process of ranking schools using test scores from Fundamental Skills Assessments (given in Grades 4 and 7) has been going on for years, with the Fraser Institute regularly releasing a school ranking based on the scores: www.fraserinstitute.org/school-performance

SD69 is not the first to call the ranking of schools based on the test scores unfair, with the B.C. School Trustees Association (BCSTA) asking the Ministry of Education (MOE) “that individual school results not be publicly released,” in 2017.

“Any public circulation of school results inevitably leads to the public ranking of schools by outside groups. This ongoing practice is certainly harmful and unfortunate. Perhaps the only solution is not to create consolidated school-based results in the first place,” reads the letter.

But SD69 is now asking what action the MOE has taken since then.

“School boards and other education stakeholders had high hopes that when the newly revised FSA was rolled out and implemented in the fall of 2017 that there would be protective measures in place to avoid abuse of data and information,” reads SD69’s letter. “Unfortunately that has not happened.”

“Two revised-FSA cycles have come and gone and Boards of Education still have no assurances that information for public consumption will be masked or otherwise unidentifiable of individual schools and districts.”

In news reports, BCSTA president Gordon Swan has said that the demographics of a school can effect test scores, with disadvantaged students like those with special needs or students who’ve newly arrived in Canada and who’s primary language isn’t English tending to score worse on tests.

Ranking schools based on these scores is therefore unfair, he said, as some schools have a higher percentage of disadvantaged students than others.

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