By Teresa Wright Constable
As appeared on page A3
The AIMS annual report card on Atlantic Canadian high schools was released Thursday and Souris regional high has maintained its standing as the top school in P.E.I. Souris also improved its overall grade from a B to a B+, but that is a full grad e behind the leading school in Atlantic Canada.
Eastern School District superintendent Sandy MacDonald says he gives no credence to the AIMS report card.
“I don ‘t have a whole lot of faith in this, quite honestly,” he told the Guardian. Three years ago, Souris Regional was ranked last in the province, and jumped to first the following year.
MacDonald said nothing was done differently at the school, so the reason for it jumping from last to first within a year displays a flaw in the AIMS report card evaluation.
“While there are many people who believe strongly in the system I’m not one of them,” he said.
“I certainly believe in accountability and assessment and standardized measurement, but I do not believe in the ranking of schools. We would be horrified if I took 30 kids in a Grade 10 class and ranked them according to the best student . . . yet somehow we feel that it’s OK to rank schools.”
“And to say that Souris regional high school is quantitatively better than let’s say Bluefield high school, for instance, I can’t accept that. I put no credence in it whatsoever.”
Bluefield and Kensington intermediate senior high saw their results slip from a B to a Cs-and from a C+ to a C respectively. Six of the 10 Island schools scored C+ or lower.
AIMS acting president Charles Cirtwill said the report card is based on the assumption that education happens in the individual schools and not in the systems.
“The report card, of course, is not a prescriptive exercise, it cannot tell you how to fix your math exams, all it can tell you is how your math exam results are going up or down compared to your neighbours in the rest of the province,”
For this report card AIMS collected an extensive set of teacher assigned grades in the areas of math, science, language arts and humanities, as there are currently no standardized examinations on P.E.I.
P.E.I. education officials have been working toward introducing a standardized provincial exam which would work toward centralizing education in the province. MacDonald said this process is underway and is a better tool than the report card to measure education standards in the province.
“We had teacher input into the measurement tools, into the creation
and administration, and we feel that this is probably the most effective way to do it.”
He said ranking schools does not help to improve education or inform teachers of student progress.