LETTER: Student improvement important measure of good teaching

The Fraser Institute provides objective indication regarding the quality of educational service

The Fraser institute (FI) has done a great service for education. Regardless of people’s opinions about methodology, their publication was the first attempt in Canada at providing the public with an objective indication regarding the quality of educational service in their community.

The FI model has improved over time because of criticisms following its earlier releases. Of course, certain voices around the province continue to criticize, because any focus on student achievement is threatening. However, their rating system remains flawed and needs revision.

Research demonstrates that student achievement is related to the quality of teaching and the students’ socio-economic status (SES.) No one should be defensive about this information. Students from poorer homes can learn just as well and, indeed do, during the school year. The lengthy summer vacation is the issue because of variances in students’ forgetting rates. Unfortunately, school systems disregard this research and continue to function as they did a century ago.

FI research actually demonstrates why its methodology is flawed. It ranks schools on the basis of raw scores, which are influenced by SES. For example, two large cities showed that students in homes making less than $60,000 averaged a rating of 4.1 and 4.3. Using a $110,000 threshold, the average in both cities was 8.0.

FI needs to modernize its methodology by rating gain scores, which is what really matters. Everyone would benefit more from knowing which schools are most successful in improving student achievement. The measure of good teaching is knowing how much students improve.


Jim Dueck