Report Card on Ontario's Elementary Schools 2016
The Report Card on Ontario’s Elementary Schools 2016 collects a variety of relevant, objective indicators of school performance into one, easily accessible public document so that anyone can analyze and compare the performance of individual schools. By doing so, the Report Card assists parents when they choose a school for their children and encourages and assists all those seeking to improve their schools.
The Report Card helps parents choose
Where parents can choose among several schools for their children, the Report Card provides a valuable tool for making a decision. Because it makes comparisons easy, it alerts parents to those nearby schools that appear to have more effective academic programs. Parents can also determine whether schools of interest are improving over time. By first studying the Report Card, parents will be better prepared to ask relevant questions when they visit schools under consideration and speak with the staff.
Of course, the choice of a school should not be made solely on the basis of a single source of information. Web sites maintained by Ontario’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), the provincial ministry of education, and local school boards may also provide useful information. Parents who already have a child enrolled at the school provide another point of view. Naturally, a sound academic program should be complemented by effective programs in areas of school activity not measured by the Report Card. Nevertheless, the Report Card provides a detailed picture of each school that is not easily available elsewhere.
The Report Card facilitates school improvement
The act of publicly rating and ranking schools attracts attention, and this can provide motivation. Schools that perform well or show consistent improvement are applauded. Poorly performing schools generate concern, as do those whose performance is deteriorating. This inevitable attention provides an incentive for all those connected with a school to focus on student results. However, the Report Card offers more than just incentive. It includes a variety of indicators, each of which reports results for an aspect of school performance that may be improved. School administrators who are dedicated to their students’ academic success accept the Report Card as another source of opportunities for improvement.
Some schools do better than others
To improve a school, one must believe that improvement is achievable. This Report Card, like other report cards from the Fraser Institute, provides evidence about what can be accomplished. It demonstrates clearly that, even when we take into account factors such as the students’ family income—which some believe dictate the degree of academic success that students can enjoy in school—some schools do better than others. This finding confirms the results of research carried out in other countries. Indeed, it will come as no great surprise to experienced parents and educators that the data consistently suggest that what goes on in the schools makes a difference to academic results and that some schools make a greater difference than others.
Comparisons are at the heart of the improvement process
By comparing a school’s latest results with those of earlier years, we can see if the school is improving. By comparing a school’s results with those of neighbouring schools or schools having similar school and student characteristics, we can identify more successful schools and learn from them. Reference to overall provincial results places an individual school’s level of achievement in a broader context. There is great benefit in identifying schools that are particularly effective. By studying the techniques used in schools where students are successful, less effective schools may find ways to improve. Comparisons are at the heart of improvement: making comparisons among schools is made simpler and more meaningful by the Report Card’s indicators, ratings, and rankings.
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