St. Sebastian saves TCDSB from Educational Ignominy

di Joe Volpe del 11 February 2019

TORONTO - We spend about $12,000 per student, in public funding, to educate our children for each year that they attend elementary and high school. What do we get in return for this investment?

Every year, the Education Quality and Accountability O­ce (EQAO), assesses student performance in reading, writing and arithmetic in grades three and six.

Not to see if we are getting value for our money, but primarily to give teachers another educational tool.

The public views the results as a measuring stick; one of the indicators of success or failure. The Fraser Institute, a private “think tank”, has taken to examining these results, in part, to provide an objective comparative standard against which parents might draw conclusions respecting the e­cacy of the preparation their children receive from educational institutions and jurisdictions.

Using the EQAO results, it draws up a ranking system to compare 3,046 schools in Ontario.

It published the rankings on January 19,2019. For illustrative reasons, in its rankings, the Fraser Institute uses four colour codes: (1) green for those schools that meet the provincial standard of 7.6 – 10.0; (2) yellow, for those in the 7.5 to 6.0 range; ones that may be satisfactory but should tend to strategies for improvement; (3) orange, for those with a score of 5.9 to 4.1 - clearly in a “trouble” zone, and, (4) red, for schools scoring 4.0 and below. No need to explain that code.

Toronto’s publicly funded schools did not fare well. Only 16 schools earned a ranking of 10.

The picture is gloomier if you are a concerned parent or grandparent with children in Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB).

You might want to start talking to your Principal, the Director or the Trustee. Of the 155 TCDSB elementary schools ranked, 17 (equivalent to 11%) of them were in the red zone. A further 58 (or 37.4%) were orange.

Only 74 of their schools were above the provincial median score of 6.1. In fact, only 23 schools (barely 15%) achieved the Provincial standard to make into the green zone. Moreover, only 13 of its schools made it into the top 10% (in the top 304 schools in the province).

Thank God, then, for Saint Sebastian Catholic Elementary. The children from this downtown, west-end, working-class, immigrant, neighbourhood was the ONLY school in the TCDSB system to score a rating of 10. It was also one of only 16 in the entire province to do so.

Those students, their teachers and principal, performed so much better than other TCDSB schools that the next ranked TCDSB school was number 84 (3 tied for that honour).

Trustee Frank D’Amico explained the results this way: “the Principal, Rita Federau, and teachers, Mrs. Waite and Mrs. Taylor, are dedicated to their students. They really do care”, he added effusively, ”they work as a unit with ESL teachers and with the instructors in the International Languages Extended Day Programme to re-enforce the curriculum.” How ironic.

Maria Rizzo, chair of the TCDSB was reported, in a Star article of January 20, as being “happy to see St. Sebastian at the top, but … that she doesn’t like any ranking system that uses just one criteria, such as EQAO scores, calling it ‘a bit lazy’.” The Corriere Canadese congratulates the kids and teachers at Saint Sebastian.

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