Friday, September 11, 2009

Good for some thought-provoking chuckles

This 'Canada Free Press' piece authored by a Manitoban social studies teacher caught the eye on a news alert earlier this week. I think the attempt here is to discredit the work of the government here based on the recent release of EQAO results.
The author criticizes the results, without any explanation as to what the EQAO provincial standard is -- see previous post here for more on that problem. Then, goes on to say:
Even more disappointing was the inadequate response from Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s education minister. In an interview with the Canadian Press, Wynne acknowledged reason for concern. However, she went on to note the Ontario government has measures in place to address the situation. That includes reduced class sizes, more money for math and literacy coaches, and expanded availability of full-day kindergarten. Unfortunately, none of these measures are likely to result in better test scores for students.
He then picks apart each item.
There is indeed research that speaks to smaller class sizes and fuels the debate as to whether or not this is an effective way of improving how much students are able to learn. There were a few quiet proponents of this research when the Primary Class Size initiative was being implemented in the last six years, but most were school board officials who were struggling with the caps on its implementation. I've not seen a parent or student quoted in any media complaining about the class-size reduction.
His critique of coaches is these are redundant in schools that function well. However, not every school does and a coach approach is a way to ensure that officially, a teacher is designated to take on that role. It's also provided additional professional development to these teachers that many may not have had previously or through experience. In schools where that wasn't happening, the coaches make a huge difference.
Lastly, he points to those countries where full-day early childhood learning hasn't produced measurable improvements in student achievement. OK, fine, but it neglects the research conducted by Dr. Fraser Mustard and others since showing early learning does indeed have a significant impact on the development of our youngest citizens, along with its impact on society.
I think politics has again interfered with what could have been a much more rational examination of Wynne's statement and the government's policies.


educ8m said...

Class size is one of those "mom-and-apple-pie" issues. There is little evidence that a class of 20 makes any difference to academic achievement, but people still want them. The fact that the teaching methods used today almost require smaller classes is part of the problem. The real variable that is just being examined is the quality of the teaching.