OUR VIEW JAN. 16: FSA results wrong for the Fraser Institute

Given its mission statement and vision, the Fraser Institute is the wrong entity to be doing school rankings based on FSA results.

For many, the elementary to high school years can be trying, as students try to “find themselves” as they mature into adults.

Bullying can occur and students can feel alienated as cliques form amongst the student population – popularity and social standing desired.

Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) testing began on Monday and will continue until Feb. 22.

The tests occur across the province, are made up of reading, writing and numeracy skill components and are controversial, as results are used by the Fraser Institute – a think tank said to lean to the right – for its annual report card, which ranks province schools.

The local teachers union has spoken against the testing, saying it is a misuse of data and tends to favour private schools while School District 51 says that it is a supplement to the assessment done by teachers.

Testing students is necessary but allowing the Fraser Institute to take the results is not.

Peter Cowley, the institute’s senior vice-president of operations and director of school performance studies, says the FSAs are important and standardized tests across the province are “the most objective measure of student, and therefore school performance.”

He says the rankings are done so parents can compare one school with another.

However, not all schools are created equally and there has been criticism that the Fraser Institute’s report card favours private schools, as private schools can control enrolment, as opposed to public schools, which accepts all students. One has to question why the Fraser Institute should be ranking schools at all.

According to information on its website, the institute isn’t an educational think tank but rather, one that has a vision of “a free and prosperous world where individuals benefit from greater choice, competitive markets and personal responsibility.”

Furthermore, its mission is to “measure, study and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government interventions on the welfare of individuals.”

That isn’t a vision or mission statement of an organization that has the best interests of students and education at heart. Given the Fraser Institute’s mission statement and objectives, it shouldn’t be taking FSA results and using them to rank schools.

This isn’t a popularity contest and while the FSAs are related to education, ranking schools based on results is wrong. After all, this isn’t high school.

– Grand Forks Gazette

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