Standardized test results raise the bar for educators - InfoNews

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Standardized test results raise the bar for educators

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March 12, 2014 - 3:33 PM

PENTICTON -- Elementary school test result data is useless unless educators are willing to invest in new programming options.

“You can’t control where kids are coming from or what their strengths are,” said Sharon Sola, principal at Carmi Elementary. Teachers need to work with children and the strengths they bring to the table.

The tests are meant to be a programming tool that all school staff should consider. “No one grade of teachers own the results,” said Sola. It is a school’s responsibility to make the necessary adjustments to improve performance results.

And this can be accomplished by schools communicating with each other, said Peter Cowley, director of school performance studies at the Fraser Institute and co-author of the FSA report.

“A lot of what goes on in schools has to do with expectations,” Cowley said. Students all deserve the same education rights regardless of their characteristics. Kids should all be held to the same expectation so they can overcome challenges and acquire the basic skills being tested with the FSA exam, he said.

“They’re not going to get a break in the world because of character,” Cowley said.

There should always be room for improvement, and students should not be limited to that. Lower ranking schools need to ask why higher ranking schools are doing so well; what programming changes need to be so that there are improvements in test scores in years to come.

Queens Park Elementary has been improving steadily over the last five years, pulling its 3.7 ranking to a 5.5 out of 10. While this is still a low score, the students are improving, and other schools need to ask questions.

It becomes a concern when there is no improvement indicated in the data, Cowley said. For example, Carmi has plateaued at a 5.0 ranking for the last five years and that needs to be taken into consideration.

On the other end, if schools are doing well, they need to keep moving in that direction. Attitude is key to a successful education system, said Cowley.

The standardized tests are designed by the B.C. Ministry of Education to test students’ basic knowledge of numeracy, reading and writing. Student numbers are used to identify the tests, keeping them fairly anonymous.

To contact the reporter for this story, e-mail Meaghan Archer at, or call 250-488-3065.

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