In Brief: The PEI government has accepted AIMS’ advice and is releasing school by school test results. Senior policy analyst Bobby O’Keefe points out that data is critical if educators are serious about improving results. Such data, he says, show what a school is doing well, where it isn’t succeeding, and how to make improvements. 

P.E.I. is releasing a school-by-school breakdown of student test results from the last school year, in opposition to the wishes of the task force that recommended the testing.

In 2005, the Task Force on Student Achievement recommended the government begin a system of common assessments testing students in grades three, six and nine, but it said those results should not be used to compare students or schools.

“The focus of the test is to test the system,” task force member Beth Cullen told CBC News this week.

“When it becomes public information we’re now testing the students, and we’re testing the schools, and we’re testing the teachers.”

Cullen warned that publishing these results will pit school against school, and have some parents wanting to move their kids.

Education Minister Gerard Greenan had previously said school-by-school comparisons were not the goal of the survey, but several access-to-information requests appear to have prompted the province to release the information. The CBC and the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, AIMS, which publishes an annual report card of high schools in the region, were among those looking for the results of the testing.

AIMS senior policy analyst Bobby O’Keefe said school systems that do make the information public see their scores improve on international tests.

“We have a couple of examples of that in Canada. Newfoundland is a perfect example,” said O’Keefe.

The overall test results were described by the province as disappointing, but not surprising. Greenan said he hopes people looking at the results will study them in the context of this being the first year for common assessments.

“It’ll take several years of results to see exactly how we are doing,” he said. The results will be posted on the province’s website by next week.