School performance in Burlington

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.

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