Date: 7 March 16
By: Frank Gue, B.Sc., MBA, P.Eng.
For: Trustee Leah Reynolds, Halton DSB
Re: School closures
I keep watching in vain for any mention of quality, but only hear of quantity (number of students) in all discussions of school closures.
I did a study 13 years ago of a Burlington patch of 25 schools. Three unexpected but very clear indications, not likely to be much different today, were:
1. “Small” schools (around 300 or less) had markedly better EQAO results than “large” schools (around 600 or more). !,000-student schools were lowest by far. One has to think about social problems in big schools – bullying, busing, and simply the teachers’ knowing kids’ names and similar social factors.
2. EQAO results did, as expected, depend clearly on family income, starting rather poorly at $20,000 (2003 dollars) and levelling off at $80,000. But there were surprising exceptions:
(a) A few schools in the “low family income” group did better than the best of the rest, and
(b) A few schools in the rest did worse than the poorest schools in the “low income group”.
Some schools obviously know something that others don’t. What is it?
3. Some schools give better value-for-money than others. I found this by creating a
performance measurement that combines cost per student with EQAO performance.
Divide EQAO ranking by cost per student and you have a value-per-dollar figure – a number exactly like litres per 100 km. or miles per gallon as a performance measure for a car. That measure of performance per dollar varies a lot from school to school. As a preliminary guess, I’d suggest that this is a direct reflection of quality of management at a school, making the brave assumption that all else (curriculum etc.) is equal.
Many educators hate comparisons, despite the fact that every improvement
in anything begins with a comparison of something with something better. Yet we have seen senior educators to declare firmly in print, “We will not use comparisons!”,
which is to say, taken at face value, “We will not attempt improvement.”
I have bar charts that illustrate this stuff emphatically, but unfortunately this computer doesn’t speak that language any more. If you want to see the bar charts, I can get them to you.
I think there is material in the above for you to inquire about quality as well
as quantity. There is potential for improvement, I am sure.
Can I assist?