[HALIFAX] — Accountability for results, not more money, is the key to improved performance by students and schools. This was the message in AIMS’ recent report “Testing & Accountability: The Keys to Educational Excellence in Atlantic Canada”. Today, the government of Nova Scotia agreed.
At a press conference this morning, the Minister of Education, Hon. Jane Purves, released an Action Plan aimed at improving the province’s poor performance on provincial, national and international exams. A central part of the Action Plan will be regular testing of Nova Scotia’s student population and the release, on a school-by-school basis, of the results of those tests. There is also a commitment on the part of the province to act on the results of the new testing regime, rewarding schools that do well, and giving appropriate help to under-performing schools.
Yet the announcement falls short in two key areas according to Charles Cirtwill, AIMS Director of Operations, and one of the authors of “Testing & Accountability”.
“Government action is not enough,” says Cirtwill, “parents and students must be empowered to take action on the information coming to them. Of what value is it to know your school is under-performing if you have only a limited ability to make changes?”
Evidence shows that where choice among public schools is possible within the context of comprehensive, relevant and accessible information about individual school performance, that performance is enhanced. Not only are good schools rewarded for their success, but poorly performing schools can be quickly identified and appropriate steps taken to put them on the path of improved results.
“Furthermore,” continues Cirtwill, “Nova Scotia, like New Brunswick and Newfoundland, will be reporting performance, not effectiveness. None of the testing programmes put in place in the Atlantic Provinces provides a genuine indicator of school or educational effectiveness. There is no published analysis that considers the impact on school performance of the differences in students’ initial preparation, family advantages, or opportunities for learning outside the schools. Yet we know that these factors are vitally important in student success.”
According to the evidence presented in “Testing and Accountability”, clear comparable information about the effectiveness of each school based, among other things, on appropriate standardised testing, is absolutely crucial to a regime where the public schools are accountable for their results, parents and students have maximum choice based on relevant information, and educational excellence is the ultimate goal.
For further information, contact:
Brian Lee Crowley, President, AIMS, 902-499-1998
Charles Cirtwill, Director of Operations, AIMS, 902-425-2494