But first, to paraphrase an acclaimed writer Colon Toibin: you may take a man out of a town, but you can’t take the town out of the man. And that’s how I feel towards Kamloops, a town that put me on the school board by a substantial majority once. For that I’ll always be grateful.
Alas, now Dr. Sharma laments: ouch! we’re mediocre at best.
The provincial assessment results are in. The school district’s report card informs the public about the academic achievement of the area schools.
These reports communicate the findings of the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA), a continuing, representative measure of achievement in various subjects, over time. “Kamloops high schools fared pretty dismally....” according to our Doug Collins of the One Man’s Opinion fame.
FSA results are important. They’re not just any old tests, but made in B.C., by B.C. teachers, and based on B.C. curriculum. Above all, the ministry considers the results legitimate for accreditations and growth plans for B.C. schools.
Measuring schools has its merit. True, standardized tests may only be one tool for monitoring school progress, but setting goals — and measuring them — is the hallmark of what accountability is all about.
There’s nothing wrong in expecting a school to “move up a grade.” Isn’t that what a good school is supposed to show — among other things, of course. Are our programs working? We just wouldn’t know without independent testing.
Often we stay away from conducting rigorous evaluations, where all we measure is routine not results. And when challenged, how does the board leadership justify high failure rates? As expected:
“We are multi-ethnic, multi-opportunity schools with children of all differing abilities and backgrounds,” said district school board chair Denise Harper. Excuses, excuses.
The public school establishment (the “blob”) has to be one of the most stubbornly intransigent forces on earth. It’s full of people and organizations dedicated to protecting the established order, thereby keeping things just the way they are,
Oh, they may talk of reform but watch them circle the wagons to fend off change at every turn. Worse still, those “Guardians of Mediocrity” regroup to outflank any innovation.
I say, let’s quit trotting out the tired old alibis like: “It’s all those challenged kids being sent to us”; “The fault lies with the society after all”; etc. — all classic cases of blame-the-victim. And finally this: The” Everything is hunky-dory” claim. Give me a break.