Date: 12 April 14
By: Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.,
2252 Joyce St.,
Burlington, ON L7R 2B5
905 634 9538
To: The Hamilton Spectator: Teri Pecoskie, Paul Berton, Howard Elliott
GA, Teri and gentlemen:
Warmest congratulations on the first of your “Education” series! Well researched, well done!
I did some of this on a very small scale (a patch of 25 Burlington schools) in 2002-5. I can no longer even read the old floppies on which I have the results, but from memory:
* The patch was about the same socio-economic stratum, judging by the then property values, all around $352K.
* Plotting EQAO results against StatCan figures on family income showed a fairly steady improvement in performance from $46K incomes to $86K where it levelled off, BUT: there were marked irregularities, the most striking of which were that some high-income schools had very poor results, while some low-income schools had very good results. This screams the question: What do the well-performing schools do from which the low performers can learn? Speculation: School management (mainly the principal) must surely have a lot to do with it!
* Small schools (around 300 students) have significantly better results than large schools where “large” starts around 600 students.
* One-parent families do significantly less well than two-parent families.
* Several schools have markedly more “excused” students than do others, in the order (if I recall) of 20 or 30 vs five or ten. Speculation: Is “excused” status used to improve reported results?
* One can form a “criterion of goodness” (value per dollar) by dividing school EQAO results by per-pupil school costs. There were remarkable differences among the 25 schools. Speculation: Principals have relatively little control over many of their costs, yet some schools give markedly better value per tax dollar than others. What can they learn from each other?
* Later results show that good and not-so-good performances persist through the years. This confirms what sociologists tell us, i.e. that organizations develop a certain “culture” that is very difficult to change.
I hope this gives you additional ammunition.