Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SQE EQAO analysis

The Society for Quality Education today released an analysis it completed of the recent release of Grade 9 EQAO math test results. The related blog post at School for Thought is here.
In it, it went back to the raw numbers to add some context to the percentages reported when the results were released back in September. It states the number of applied and academic Grade 9 students who took the test in 2008-09, along with percentages of students achieving Level 3 or higher.
It then developed a composite percentage (how? this isn't well explained in the blog post or press release) of the two. I would assume they first figured out the number of successful students in each stream, added them and then divided by the total number of students in Grade 9. However the chart doesn't lead me to conclusively determine that, it's based on my assumption. There is also a data gap on the chart. The blog post refers to the students who are exempt, yet this number isn't on the chart. If you take the number of applied and academic in each row, you're still not getting the total number of Grade 9 students. Add some columns please... one for exempt students and another with the total number of Grade 9 students.
The SQE is showing its strength in compiling and publishing public data in one-stop charts and websites.
The chart's surprise for me was something my eye hadn't ever really been drawn to in the past, (context it should have seen, really) which is comparing the raw number of academic and applied students. In some boards they're very close-- 46 per cent of the students in the Simcoe County DSB wrote the applied test, for example, a difference of just over 500 students. Some of the smaller northern boards have a similar proximity in numbers writing applied and academic.


Anonymous said...

ER - maybe that Malkin fellow will answer your questions here?

I must admit it's a new way of crunching the numbers and sings a very different tune to the pats on the back the gov't and some boards give themselves with regards to the interpretation of these scores.

How are parents supposed to know who's telling us the truth?

Unknown said...

Hugo is correct as to how I calculated the composite percentage. I took the Ministry's figures for the number of successful students in each stream (45616 applied, 100080 academic) and multiplied the percentage of successful applied students (38%) by 45616, multiplied the percentage of successful academic students (77%) by 100080, added the two products together (17334 + 77062 = 94396), and then divided them by the total number of students (94396 divided by 145696) to arrive at 64.79%.
I don't mention the exempt students, because they are included in the EQAO's calculation of the percentage of successful students. I do mention the non-tested academic and applied students, 6%, and this I got from page 94 of the provincial report http://www.eqao.com/pdf_e/09/Cprr_PJ9e_0909_web.pdf).
The reason that the number of applied and academic students in each row don't add up to the totals on the "Province" line is that our chart includes only the major English-speaking school boards. The additional students are in the minor English-speaking school boards and the French-speaking school boards. There aren't all that many of them, of course.
I hope this answers your questions. Malkin Dare

RetDir said...

And some boards have remarkably few applied students compared to their academic ones - and not surprisingly (Halton and York, for example) have very good results on EQAO generally. It would be very interesting to see what the percentages of applied versus academic would be in the private schools, were they to risk operating in the real world. I would guess that BSS and UCC would have a very small percentage of applied students (perhaps )?).

Education Reporter said...

Applied students in private schools? In the faith-based ones, perhaps.

Something tells me you don't as a parent pay mucho dollars to have your kid train for a job straight out of that expensive upper-class, prestigious private school. Or to have him/her go and get a college diploma.

Do these schools even offer applied-level courses? Thanks for the giggle, RetDir.

Oh, and thanks to Malkin for the explanation (and Malkin is a she, according to the SQE website).


Anonymous said...

Schools like BSS & UCC likely have NO applied students in Grade 9 math. Since those schools are university prep schools (and unashamedly say so) they offer university destination courses --in addition to Advanced Placement and IB courses in many cases.

The school where my child attended had extremely high academic standards and had graduates who were eligible for over a million dollars worth of university scholarships.

Private schools do not have to participate in EQAO testing---except for the Grade 10 literacy test if they offer an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. (Those results show virtual 100% pass rate) However, I venture that if they did take the math test, they would blow the rest of the province away.

Anonymous said...

A reminder to those who poo-poo the notion of private schools apparently not being inclusive of "applied" level kids, that there are secondary schools WITHIN some school boards that also cream the crop, purposely and it's well known among staff, parents and community that they serve only the brightest and best students in the board.

I'd also like to remind RetDir that the sentiment about the absence of "applied" students is also one champions of the public system heap on the Catholic system.

The spin suggests that the Catholic schools generally don't accept many applied or special needs students therefore that's why they claim top spots in achievement. I can't say whether it's true or not, that's only what I've heard.

RetDir said...

All valid comments, Anon - and they all support the notion that schools (private or otherwise) and systems that have higher levels of Applied level students are bound to do less well on the overall EQAO ratings than those that have fewer of the workplace bound students. Therefore, one should look carefully at relative success, and applaud those schools and systems that do well by those students, not knock them because their EQAO scores are low. It's also important to remember those systems have more students who find school challenging in their elementary schools as well - they don't just arrive on the scene in Grade 9...
As an aside, when I first began teaching I was interviewed by a Montessori school to develop and open a Grade 7 - 10 work experience school. The stated reason was that Montessori believed that standard school curricula and classrooms were highly inappropriate for early adolescents, and that they should be engaged in physical labour and hands-on learning during those years. Have since regretted not taking the job (especially as it involved two years of training in Italy...).

Anonymous said...

As the first Anon. suggests who do parents trust with the truth?

Education Reporter said...

EQAO has always been about more than numbers.
If you treat it like a numbers story, then you're subject to the pratfalls that come with the endless ways you can interpret the numbers.

Truth in numbers? Well, that depends on who's crunching them.


Anonymous said...

RetDir. - if you're going to knock private schools than you've got to knock those schools within the public system for doing same.

I don't believe that the EQAO scores knock the student at all.

What it does is knock the system, hopefully into looking at other method to improve perhaps? How much knocking can a school take that's consistently not making achievement gains in reading and math?

What would be helpful to parents just starting out in the system is for both Mr. Dare's group and RetDir.'s public system both ante up and tell us exactly what we can do with the information they make public to get my kids the best education possible either in or outside of the system. Works all ways.

RetDir said...

I'm not knocking private schools - they charge a lot, restrict admission to those most likely to achieve their goals and generally they do well by their students (not discussing faith based schools here). I just don't think that the ones that won't accept every student who applies, and which don't provide free tuition to parents who can't afford it, should lay claim to any academic exclusivity. Any institution could do the same if it controlled inputs and charged their pupil's families way more than what public schools get from the taxpayer. Perhaps we should use the $26,020 that UC College charges its day students (http://www.ucc.on.ca/podium/default.aspx?t=112896) as a standard for the funding at which the provincial government should fund public schools...an increase of at least 200 percent of the current amount....

Education Reporter said...

To add to what I said yesterday-- the pratfalls happen when you look at the number. The problem is we collectively focus too much on the number.

When you look at the entire breadth of data coming out of EQAO assessments, there's tonnes of great info (and stories that deserve to be told) about how and what students are learning and the impacts investments are having on student achievement.

Speaking of numbers, we also continue to do a piss-poor job explaining what a Level 3 is equivalent to— 70 per cent or a B- grade.

Students, schools and boards fail to meet the standard, not the overall ability to read, write and do math.

That 66 or 54 or 34 hides a lot of information and context.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the common sense influx ER. I have a strong stomach for political and territorial bias but the push/pull between the RetDir and the SQE report(s) is getting very old, very fast.

Any intelligent person looking in to this blog can probably deduce that RetDir is defending the system which earned her/him a living, a lovely pension and most probably, as is very typical of "the system" still hanging on getting work in the system. Seeing the SQE group as a political nemesis is par for the course, either deserved or not.

Reading the Society for Quality Education website, it appears as you say ER that they are becoming very good at giving the public what the public system will not in terms of that one-stop-shopping information that, quite frankly used to be on the offering under both the NDP and Conservative governments freely and easily on the website.

That the RetDir is resorting to myths about private schools such as they turn away students that don't meet their criteria yet seemingly is ok with public schools in some boards which do exactly the same thing just presents more of the double standard that Ontarians have become used with "the system".

Meanwhile parents still don't know who to trust and often turn to each other for comparative information. Right or wrong if the public system was upfront and told parents the whole truth and nothing but the truth about issues and the chokehold the unions have even on Retired Directors perhaps our RetDir wouldn't be so against the information provided by the SQE group. After all the MOT was going to allow for comparison until People for Education bullied Wynne into changing that feature of what is a VERY good effort on the MOE's part.

I bet that the Ministry is secretly cheering on the SQE group for being able to put that comparison mechanism in place and to hell with Kidder and co.?

Anonymous said...

To Anon. 8:30 and others,

Is it not possible that both our Retired Director and SQE have something valuable to teach us?

Both truly believe in their work however politically at odds with each other they may seem.

The problem I see as to why education discussion gets mired in
muck and politics is that we want to demonize the other guy too quickly.

Keep it up and we get nowhere fast and that real discussion that each side claims to want so badly gets lost and so do more kids in the system.


RetDir said...

I don't object at all to the SQE's data presentation - just don't fully understand what their presentation of the data teaches us...or what we can learn from it to improve instruction, which should be the goal of any use of data. Perhaps the 'critical Anon' could point that out to me...that would be a better use of our time here than using caricatures to defend positions, and setting up straw dogs to avoid real debate.

Anonymous said...

Agree RetDir. that more explanation of the SQE groups information and how to use it would indeed be helpful. If they are bold enough to put something like this out there that raises they know will raise questions, surely they should pull out all the stops to defend their work.

Then again, maybe the message is as simple as giving the public very public information so that they've got it all and can make comparisons and eventually decisions about their children's education.

I think the critical anons.(more than one) are saying to you RetDir that you have a loyalty to uphold to your profession and wouldn't ever accept comparisons the way the SQE group sets them up. Why?
No straw dogs sir, or madame but because the good living you've earned through your career depended heavily on how good the unions acted on your behalf.

No one should be critical or angry about that.

If there are questions being raised about how to use the info. I'd say it's up to SQE to either get pro-active and use blogs like this to further defend and define their own work or risk it being twisted or defined for them.

I see both sides and points of view as being helpful.


RetDir said...

I'll make this my last post on this thread - I don't see my views as representing loyalty to my profession, and they sure aren't to give thanks to the unions... Comparisons between schools and teachers are useful when they lead us to look for whatever causes better student outcomes, independent of socio-economic factors. When teaching practices are better in one school than another (and in one classroom than another, as there is actually greater variability between classrooms in any given school than between most schools), or the way the principal works with her staff leads to improvement, or where there is a director that manages to create conditions under which student improvement flourishes (granted, probably unheard of!), where trustees are able to make decisions that support student learning, or where there are resources that lead to improvement, these are all extremely useful to improving staff capabilities, school capabilities, and system capabilities, and therefore the educational lives of pupils. I am a long standing believer in continuous improvement, and believe it starts through internal examination and reflection first. Ideology has no place in this quest, but data has a central place.
And I am under the impression from my parents, and from being the parent of adult children (at least chronologically), that while directors may retire, parents never do!

Anonymous said...

If I may RetDir., please forgive me if it appears all too often that the
"internal reflection" you speak of as being necessary isn't being projected to the public, and to parents specifically.

The optics are generally the very opposite of what you're suggesting is necessary. That in fact there is a huge majority within the system who thwart that professional reflection and present to the public the feeling that their is no will on the part of the system to change(improve).

As a parent, I still say that organizations and the education system needs to be more specific in telling parents how to use what they provide in the way of information, reports etc. for the benefit of their child.

Failing to do so misses the mark.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to our Retired Director for reminding the RetPar that their is no such animal.

I was actually going to post a request to that Retired Parent to please fill the rest of we parents in on just how to become one of those because as with RetDir we have grown children and I have no intention of retiring from their lives.

Then again, maybe RetPar stands for something else? Retired Para-legal,Retired,Para-professional, parrot, party-goer, Parson, Parisian...etc.etc.

Anonymous said...

Today's Globe and Mail gives the SQE group kudos for its Sunshine on Schools information.

Hey, if the Globe's all for it, I'm going to start recommending it to my friends.