From Nora Crawford:

Thank you Spectator for such a good article.

I would like to comment on the poor results of Queen's Rangers School.

Could it be related to the history of having 3 principals in the last 4 years? Or to the split timetables of the teachers? Or to the high staff changeover? Or to the entire school having stacked classes?

There appears to be no consistent philosophy/policy in the school, a lack of awareness of the staff of the potential of the students (consequently their low expectations) and an apparent lack of caring for the efficacy of their practices.

This is not a poverty issue, or a lack of parental concern. Parents are very concerned with the neglect of their children's education.

Could Mr. Malloy look into putting the brightest and the best of their staff at this school?

From Anna DeCesare:

I have thoroughly been enjoying your story on the EQAO and the discrepancy among schools. I wonder, has anyone ever looked at the lower income kids only and compared them solely between schools to see if lower income kids consistently scored poorly despite the schools they went to? If they are scoring better in the ‘better than predicted schools’ then maybe income alone is not a factor, but teaching style, school community, etc., are more important factors. As well, has anyone been providing the parents information about their children’s class work and school information in their first language rather than English? Most parents regardless of language want their children to be successful but when they are counting on their children to bring home and translate the information, it decreases their ability to be involved in the school and what is happening in the class. Many parents from other countries are highly educated but are limited due to language or cultural factors. They provide their children with love but cannot become involved in their schooling or assist when it is in another language. If they had the understanding of what are the requirements provided in their own language they may be more able to enforce it with their children.

From Frank Gue:

Anecdotal evidence, wise statisticians tell us, must not be relied upon; you need masses of data. But even wiser statisticians assure us: Don't dismiss anecdotes, because they are data too. So: This letter is a bunch of anecdotes. Hope you can wade through it. These leads are doubtless too late for your current series, but I hope they give you something for the future. Re gender of students: The education folk in Clackmannanshire, Scotland, ran a well designed formal seven-year-long (horizontal) study to compare the effectiveness of Direct (traditional) Instruction (DI) with Whole Language (WL) instruction.  To the surprise of no one of the many like me, DI came out well ahead of WL. But to the considerable surprise of everyone involved, certainly including me, an unintended result was that the gender gap vanished.  They don't know why, and I certainly don't!  Tantalizing ... ??  Some folk better qualified than I pooh-pooh the Clackmannanshire study, but I've learned to be at least a little skeptical about any Education guru who declaims on anything, pro or con.  One-up (among many) for traditional DI. Re gender of teachers: Your informants say there is no discernible impact of teacher gender upon the teaching of math.  I strongly feel this is questionable.  Many folk adhere to the superstition that "girls are not good at math".  As the saying goes, people live up to (or down to) what is expected of them.  A school girl suffering under this superstition is bound to do less well than her potential as a student or as a teacher.  Further, among my wife's counselling clients have been women teachers who complain about being "... pitchforked into teaching math, which I haven't touched since high school and which I can't do very well."  How good a math teacher will she be?  A Finnish math teacher must have a master's degree in math! Re teachers and teaching: I once asked the then Director of Education of Burlington District 6 whether he employed science-and-math teachers in proportion to some analyzed need (of employers, Universities, etc.) or in proportion to the number of such teachers available.  He acknowledged that it was the latter, and that he could never get enough such.  A different, later Dir. of Ed. (himself a science graduate) commented sadly to me that, "My managers (Supts of Instruction etc.) don't understand, like, or know how to use numbers."  One wonders how such high-level educators, having come up through the ranks of similar educators, can possibly manage improvement programs without intensive use of numbers, some quite sophisticated, e.g. standard deviations.  For instance, how many senior educators still adhere to the policy stance of the one-time Supt. of Instruction in Burlington, who declared firmly and publicly, "We will not use comparisons."?  Without using comparison, nothing can be improved. One major teaching paradigm in use widely is Constructivism (or Experiential Learning, or Learning by Discovery - it has a lot of names).  A Queens summer-school instructor long ago explained it to me.   Concerned about what I was hearing, I asked, "But at the end of the day, don't you want to graduate a literate, numerate student?"  In a tone of cold hostility, this teacher replied, "Why?"  (I'm serious!).  Later in the discussion, this teacher-of-teachers commented, "If they don't want to learn, that's their problem."  (Again, I am serious.  I am not making this up.)

An associate of mine, a wealthy business man who could afford to take the time off, was sufficiently concerned about the education of his boy that he took a two-year Education degree.

He reported that:

  • His intake class of 28 was assured by their instructor that all would graduate; they duly did.
  • He (as an employer) would have considered hiring two or three of the 28.
  • Two of the 28 were clearly illiterate.
  • If you want, I can relay this conversation to this person and leave it to him if he wishes to contact you.

    You and many others have commented to the effect that students, of course, vary widely in their talents and interests, i.e. their potential.  True; and this leads to a need to identify aptitudes (inherent talents, not merely interests) and in some logical way group or stream students and hire teachers appropriately.  At 17, I was taken by my far-seeing Dad to the Human Engineering Lab at the U. of Chicago for aptitude testing.  Their advice changed the course of my life.  ("Yes, you could be a writer.  But your profile is engineer, scientist, or something like that.")  Result: With a very modest set of abilities I have had an enormously satisfying career as an engineer which has overlapped with basic science.  I don't think our ed. system does enough aptitude testing.  Get the square pegs into square holes, you know.

    Again, congrats to you and Paul and whoever else is involved in this Education series.

    From Tom Roden:


    I hope that you are not annoyed by my impressions of your articles. I can see that a great deal of research has been done in preparation for these articles. However, because there is so much material available, it is impossible to investigate every bit. That is why I wish to point out some aspects that may have been missed.

    If you would prefer that I not send comments to you, please say so. In Tuesday's article, it appeared at one point that you were going to investigate the roll of genetics and human development. I think that investigation should have been continued. Modern day humans are the result of millions of years of evolution. Those traits that make an individual better suited for survival are more likely to persist as that person is more likely to reproduce. Human society is, for the most part, ruled by the norm and those unusual individuals who are different usually have a lesser chance of mating and passing on their genes.Until a century or two ago (maybe even less than a century), males were domineering and physical, out catching food or earning a living to sustain the family, while females were more passive, tended to be at home, and, without some of the responsibility of maintaining the physical wellbeing of the family, could survive with some interest in aesthetics. It is not surprising that females tend to do better in literacy while males tend to hold their own in mathematics and science.

    Also, in most societies, in male/female partnerships (usually marriages) the males tended to be older than the females. That part is still true today. Although the age differential is not as great as it was generations ago, even today it is unusual for the male to be younger than the female. Therefore, one would expect the female brain to mature faster than the male brain. I believe there are studies that indicate a different rate of maturity.

    It takes hundreds of generations for genetic norms to change appreciably. Therefore, even though, in Western society, many females are out earning a living to support themselves or the family, and are as aggressive in the work place as males, the genetics have not changed at the same rate. Given that, we should compare grade nine girls to grade ten or eleven boys, particularly in literacy. Also, we should do a comparison at age 25 or so. My instinct is that males may have caught up to females by that time.

    Those ideas are also the reason that all day kindergarten is a colossal waste of money. Most four and five year old children are unable to operate effectively for an entire day. My wife is a retired kindergarten teacher who taught in both half day and full day situations. She will tell you that, in full day, the teacher is a daycare worker for part of the day as most kids are incapable of a full day of school. The government, however, will point to studies comparing grade one students who were in full day kindergarten to those from half day to justify their claims. The comparison is wrong. The comparisons should be made around grade four or grade five. Their will be no appreciable difference at that time.

    From Andre Couture:

    Hello Ms. Pecoskie

    I’ve been reading your 5 part series and today your topic is in regards to “Gender Imbalance”. I see that there has been much discussion about why Girls outperform Boys and not one mentioned in your column seems to have a clear answer.

    I’m a parent of a male child (now age 20) that suffers from Fragile-X Syndrome. What this means is that his X chromosome is broken which has caused his learning to be severely impaired.

    Both boys and girls can have Fragile-X Syndrome but boys are affected much more than girls. Part of the reason for this is that girls have 2 X chromosomes. If the good chromosome  overrides the bad chromosome, that person will have normal intelligence. If the good chromosome doesn’t override the bad x chromosome impairment will be less severe.  Boys do not have a spare X Chromosome and when it doesn’t work the results are tragic.

    Please visit the Fragile-X Canada website to learn more how the X chromosome impacts learning.

    So if educators are trying to figure out why girls and boys differ in learning it goes down to the very basic. What is the difference between boys and girls? XY and XX

    On another note . . . .

    Also worth looking into is the affect of estrogen.

    From Bob James:

    Hi Teri,

    I am really liking the articles you have written for the Spec. And am looking forward to the final two. I wanted, of course, to comment on them.

    Is it possible to look at the difference between those students who walk to school and those that are bussed? Probably not. But the reason I ask is that there is already good research suggesting local schools (those where the students mostly can walk) have higher rates of parent involvement and higher rates of involvement in extra-curricular activities. Also less bullying, vandalism, and other "petty" crimes. I would think that these factors might well lead to better achievement for the students (you have alluded to the need for parent involvement already). And perhaps the male-female difference could be better if the boys had the higher activity level of extra-curricular events.

    Of course, as you know, I am a big supporter of smaller schools. But this would be an interesting perspective if it is possible.

    Thanks for considering.

    From Doretta Wilson:

    Dear Teri,

    I’ve been following this excellent series and have so many comments about what the educators have said I don’t know where to start.

    On the gender gap: if they’ve known about this for 20 years, why have they not done anything about it?  A generation of students has been damaged.

    Educators need to pay attention to sound research on teaching reading.  Over 50 years of proper research has shown that children learn to read best through systematic, explicit phonics instruction at the start—especially boys!

    This is a travesty.

    I’m looking forward to the next installment!

    From Lise Diebel:

    Hi Teri,

    Congratulations on Keeping Score. What a fantastic series! I noticed that the last story in the series is: Closing the gap. Can more be done? I'm guessing this story is completed, but I wanted to pass along some information on the YMCA's Beyond the Bell program just in case. This year-round program assists in closing the achievement gap  by helping children realize academic achievement, improve health and wellness, develop social skills and explore culture and creativity. All programming takes place at schools in high-needs neighbourhoods, including schools discussed in your articles.

    YMCA Beyond the Bell is offered at no charge to participants, who range from Grades 1 to 5. This year, we are also running a pilot program at one of our downtown Hamilton sites for children in Grades 6 to 8. Program assessments done each year in literacy and numeracy show that YMCA Beyond the Bell helps close the achievement gap. The most recent results are in Beyond the Bell's 2012-13 Report Card.

    We have also started measuring physical literacy -- the development of fundamental movement/sport skills like throwing a ball. From September to June, YMCA Beyond the Bell is offered as an after-school program with homework help, arts, science and recreational activities. In summer months, it runs as a six-week day camp where literacy and numeracy skills are reinforced through games and activities.  The YMCA currently offers 13 YMCA Beyond the Bell programs at 12 schools – 8 schools in Hamilton, 2 in Burlington, 1 in Brantford and 1 in Ohsweken. Community partners in program delivery include Culture for Kids in the Arts, McMaster University, Art House and the PlayLab educational enrichment program.

    From Jordan Fox:

    Hi Teri,

    I'm a long time Spec reader and felt compelled to respond to the article regarding EQAO scores.  I thought it was a well laid out article and is certainly a good piece of information for those involved in education and parents who are making the decision to enrol in public or Catholic school. I am responding as a Special Class Teacher (with the public board, so I am admittedly biased) and I think the number of Special Education students plays a larger role in the scores than was portrayed in the article.  Students with special needs who are working on Individualized Education Plans and will not be able to write EQAO, receive a score of zero on their test even though they didn't write it.  With our board having 2.5% more students with special needs, that will naturally create a lot more zero scores in our data.  A zero will bring down the average very quickly. Aside from those receiving a zero, other special needs students will write the test but receive lower and sometimes negligible scores that will also negatively impact our data.

    I have no bones to pick, although I do disagree with Jim Dunn's assessment that parents who enrol their children in public school (myself included) are lacking a level of 'skills, wherewithal, awareness, motivation, and ability' in choosing an appropriate school board or that it somehow relates to my parenting.  I think everyone has a right to an opinion and I enjoyed reading those that were provided.  Thanks for your time!

    From: Judith Bishop:

    Hello Teri,

    I am enjoying reading your series on student achievement in Hamilton. Thank you for raising some important issues. 

    I thought you might be interested to read this report I wrote in 2005. You will note that this issue has been before Hamilton school board since the 1970s when ENOC schools were initiated (Educational Needs of the Inner City) and various approaches have been tried since, the redistribution of resources being the main approach.

    2005 report - How can schools with a large number of student needs be successful?

    From: Joe Baiardo:


    I want to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank you for a very interesting and important topic.

    As a former and hopefully returning Catholic School Trustee and a father of three, it is of major interest to me. As a Trustee and Father I was and am very interested in the gender gap issue as I look forward to your article tomorrow.

    Teri, I believe many of the issues and challenges facing our children is multi faceted and should involve more than the school systems themselves.  At the elementary level, for example, we implemented the F.A.S.T. (P ) Program ( Families And Schools Together with Parishes) in the late 90s which was a partnership between (CFS) Catholic Family Services (where I served as a Board Member  1994-2000 and President 1998-1999), the Catholic School Board and local Parishes.  We recognized that, particularly in low income neighbourhoods, the more we got the parents involved in a non-intimidating way, the more likely the students will become more engaged at school and improve their grades.  We also felt that these same parents were not as likely to attend Mass on Sundays and were hoping to affect their spiritual and family life also.

    The funding for the program was through both CFS with a special grant from the Province and the HWCDSB but the funding dwindled and the program was dissolved. 

    This is why I believe a coordinated and sustained approach to many of these issues is needed.  The School Boards cannot do it alone.  It must involve Provincial Ministries, not only Education, but also Community and Social Services along with local agencies.

    If you are interested, check out the FAST program and what it offers.  It was originally an American idea but is now in many countries.


    From Rob:

    So according to you and Howard Elliott the only reason my daughter is successful at school is because, by chance, she was born an economically advantaged area.  Apparently, a parent's devotion and efforts towards their child has nothing to do with their success rate. How dismissively insulting.

    Rich, poor, or somewhere in between, a child's success at school is always going to depend on how high a priority the parents place on their child's education.  Personally, my wife and I place the highest priority on our daughters educational success, which translates into a lot of hard work for both of us. 

    Another thing, about the title of your story "Unequal Education" unequal for who?  The child from the affluent area or the child from the poor areas who receives the better teachers, smaller classes, food programs, paid for outside school activities and overall more resources.

    Finally, a Spectator special report wouldn't be complete unless they rolled Terry Cooke out to give the same old empty feel good quotes he uses every interview.  Obviously, I'm not your target reader on this report.

    From Stephanie Robinson:

    Ms Pecoskie‎,

    Your work is superb. As a semi-retired writer and editor who is new to Hamilton, I have been generally very impressed with the journalistic talent in this city. You, however, are a star.

    Thank you for your clear writing and logical presentation of facts.

    From Chuck Lemenchick:

    Congrats on your research. It will make more people aware of the good and weak areas in the educational system.

    It just touches on the problems and needs to be taken further. Here are a few areas I see as a concern.

    Curriculum in the province: There is way too much in the mathematics area at each grade level. Once a student falls behind, he or she is unable to catch up. Less outcomes and more time to consolidate skills is required.

    Discipline in the classrooms and the affect on learning.

    Absenteeism and the affect it has since learning is a continuum.


    Students having difficulty reading have difficulty solving mathematical problems.

    Frustration and lack of attention span when doing the tests. Many students as they get older do not see a purpose on the tests.

    Level of expectation: What percentage of students should really be expected to reach the required standard? What percentage of these students will be capable of going to college or university?

    Distractions in their lives and the role these play: Sports, social problems, family problems, etc.

    Hopefully these questions will be considered in future articles.

    From Mike Goffredo:


    I am really enjoying your articles. I love the picture of Dakota walking down the hallway of St. Lawrence with the beautiful statue of Mary. EQAO is a very controversial subject. I have worked for and have been a marker for EQAO. I still believe that much of the marking (of the students writing and short answers) although based on rubrics and descriptors, is subjective.

    The cost of EQAO is another controversial point. Can this astronomical amount be used elsewhere in the educational landscape of Ontario? Can the same data that EQAO provides be obtained if the test was written by a random sample of schools within each jurisdiction? Do we need students to write EQAO tests 4 times in their schooling careers? Finally, and perhaps the most troubling aspect of EQAO is the fact that the test is not standardized in its administration. Although the instructions for its administration are explicit, every teacher, and every classroom, administers the test differently.

    Looking forward to the remaining articles. Congratulations on your excellent work...another award winner, I am sure.

    From Jean Rae Baxter:

    As the author of several young adult historical novels, I am frequently invited to visit schools to talk about writing and about Canadian history. Over the past several years I have become aware that the classroom atmosphere in the Catholic school is subtly different from that in the public school. Politeness, consideration for others, and mutual respect and appreciation are hallmarks of the Catholic school. This is a generalization, and there are many public schools of which one can say the same. Yet I sense, over all, that the atmosphere in the Catholic school tends to make the students not only more receptive to learning but also more eager to do well.

    I speak as a former teacher in the public school system in Lennox & Addington County in Eastern Ontario.


    From Frances Agro:

    Ms. Pecoskie;

    It looks like you are off to a great start in your exploration about what ills our students and schools in Hamilton (and elsewhere).

    But I'd like you to consider something else. At some point administrators must stop throwing more resources at new programs without first considering how kids really learn. Sure food and security and supportive homes play a significant role in kids' wellbeing and attitude toward learning. But just as important is the teaching itself. When teachers and administrators do not understand how children learn and how the developing brain processes new information, they will be far less capable of understanding students' response to new information and they certainly will not be able to interpret their behaviour in class. What can be observed in classrooms in any area of the city, is not incapable children; hindered by a lack of food, sleep or support, but children lacking in teaching methods that allow them to learn new skills while building on previously mastered skills.

    Cognitive Scientists have been warning educators for a long time about the problem with our approach to teaching today: students are being placed in a state of cognitive overload multiple times throughout the school day. The new way of teaching math - the discovery approach - is one such example. Where students are expected to explore and construct meaning in groups or individually. Explicit teaching is not part of the equation. Nor is review and repetition through various forms of practice. This places children with little or no prior experience with the skill sets at a decided disadvantage. Cognitive Scientists are clear about what students really need to be successful in school: review of previously learned skills that leads directly to the explicit teaching of new related skills in manageable chunks, ample practice and supportive guidance and feedback. Too bad decision-makers refuse to accept this information. Just speak to Daniel Ansari or Raphael Nunez.

    As educators our goal is to facilitate the acquisition and mastery of new skills that will turn students into responsible and creative contributors to society. But we are hemmed in by a system that focuses on the end result (test scores and ranking systems) without examining the process of educating the child. The system in which we toil is designed not to expect and promote mastery for all students, but rather to reinforce differentiated outcomes where it is expected that only a minority of students will meet expectations. And then we are surprised when students perform poorly on standardised tests.

    The problem in Hamilton is not the students. It's not really the parents or teachers either. There is not a lack of potential in Hamilton children, but a lack of recognition of the potential that is here. The problem stems from a real lack of knowledge of how children learn and how teachers can facilitate that learning process.

    And EQAO tests only add to the problem.

    From Lorie Murdoch:

    Good morning Teri,

    Just finished reading the first installment of your story this morning and I have a few comments — and frustrations.

    First, I would like to know where all of the schools in that chart are located. I am not from Hamilton, don’t live downtown and the areas don’t really mean much to me. It would have been helpful to have a map large enough to include street names. Or name the streets with school names.

    The only St. Patrick school in Hamilton I could find online was St. Patrick Catholic Elementary School and it’s on East Avenue off Cannon. You did say it was wedged between King and Main but I was curious to know the street.

    Also, in your opening paragraphs, you say St. Patrick has great teachers but the kids still aren’t doing well. So, what’s the point of this whole story about bringing in “better” teachers and spending the money if it isn’t going to make a difference?

    I understand some kids from other countries may have trouble adjusting but, some — and I say some — of the kids might just not have the brain power to meet those test results. Not all people are created with equal potential whether they are from low or high-income families.

    I just found the whole thing frustrating to read. Maybe because I don’t know any of the schools in Hamilton, except Central, which caught my attention because of its architecture and I have heard about Sage, which apparently is set up to help kids not following traditional school room paths. (My kids went to school in Toronto.)

    I think it is admirable you are trying to bring light to this problem in the city but, again, I ask: if great teachers and help with nutrition are proven not to help at St. Patrick — where ever that is — then what’s your POINT????

    From Malcolm Curtis:

    Dear Teri,

    Very likely you have little time for the following stories that are probably irrelevant to your study about education.

    Relative to boys, my experience was that in elementary school not only are boys about 2 years behind girls in social skills as well as learning English skills, they are annoying to many teachers because unlike girls who sit still & are tidy, they are messy & do not sit still. An excellent teacher would have a different sort of activity every 10 minutes to keep boys engaged. Boys who were mediocre in elementary school often bloomed in secondary school.

    As a principal teacher I found it hard to convince teachers that whatever assignment was suitable for most students in a class, only 5% of that assignment should be required of the 10% who were slower learners & the 10 % who were faster learners. Those faster learners should be given a different assignment that challenged them.

    In the last school where I was there was a Grade 5 class for gifted students (IQs of 130 or higher). Other teachers on staff complained about the teacher having only 20 students in the class. It was difficult to convince those complainers that gifted students needed special attention lest they end up using drugs or even committing suicide! Teachers often said that brighter students were just being lazy or uncooperative. When I was principal teacher at Holbrook School which is not in your list of 20 schools, our students were in the Cerebral Palsy Centre on hospital grounds as well as on the second floor of the nearby secondary school. One boy in Grade 1 in the CP Centre who was the only student able to walk was integrated into the regular Grade 1 using his Bliss Board because he could not speak. At the end of the year he was promoted to Grade 2 which located him in another school where the teacher had him sit on her lap never doing any sort of integration activity. The boy's mother told the teacher that she was to teach him not love him! The mother then withdrew him from special education causing a superintendent to transport him daily to Holbrook School where I located him in a Grade 3 class where he used his Bliss Board & electric typewriter. I assumed that would be my last interaction with him, yet in my fourth year in a Middle School he arrived as a student in Grade 6 necessitating a large staff meeting with CP teachers, therapists and the boy's parents . He went on to graduate from the neighbourhood secondary school. By chance I met him at a community college where he was half-time student & half-time computer expert. He has flown to England to demonstrate how his computer makes voice sounds for him. Just last week I communicated with him via e-mails.

    Also at Holbrook School there was a boy from an immigrant family who had been in a special education language program for 3 years then placed in an opportunity class where he was a major behaviour problem. His family withdrew him from special education. Thinking that his being at a Grade 5 age he could take gym & visual art with a Grade 5 class I found that he would not fit in. I placed him in a Grade 3 class from which he was withdrawn about 4 hours a day by volunteers who were mostly teachers staying home to raise their own children. One year there were 66 such volunteers. Those tutors thought the boy was making progress but he continued to score Grade 1 on standardized reading tests. When I persuaded the head of the nearby Cool School for able secondary students having difficulty he chatted with the boy then told me that he wished he had puberty dust because some boys are not ready to read until puberty.

    Soon the family moved to Ancaster, then outside the city. Recently I spoke with that boy's sister by telephone. She told me that he graduated from Grade 12, married a teacher who taught Grade 3 & has 2 children who were doing well in school.

    That is enough for now. You hope I will not want to share other stories about students!

    From Tom Roden:


    Your article investigates an interesting facet of Ontario's education system. Will future parts investigate the validity of the EQAO tests and the fact that the real reason that the Reform (aka PC) government of the day produced them was to attack teachers?

    That, however, is not the reason for my message to you today. There is a grammar error in your article that appears so often that I lost count. The word "data" is a plural noun. The singular is "datum". I recognize that this an error that you see often. Regardless, it matters not how many times you say 2 + 2 = 5, it is still wrong. Also, you may wish to look at the plural of the word "curriculum".

    Keep up the good work. I await the days that a similar investigation of the fairness and squandering of resources regarding the public funding of religious schools for only one denomination is published.

    From Malcolm Curtis:

    Thank you Teri for your in-depth article about Unequal Education. It had kept me reading this weekend. Who am I?

    I earned my Bachelor of Arts Degree at McMaster University in 1953.

    I graduated from Hamilton Teacher's College in 1954.

    In September of 1954 the Board of Education began employing me for 41 years.

    It was in 1962 that the University of Toronto granted me a Master of Education Degree.

    In September of 1964 I taught a Grade 8 Enrichment class at Prince of Wales School.

    In September of 1967 my first assignment as principal teacher was at Lake Avenue School.

    The Ministry of Education granted me my Supervisory Officer's Certificate in 1980.

    Enough of that!

    At Bennetto School where I taught 6 years, the poorest students were from long-time Canadian families. It was students from immigrant families or Japanese families who excelled. One became a famed architect here. A student in that Enrichment Class at Prince of Wales was from a Ukrainian immigrant family, fluent in 5 languages, the best ever in Russian at McMaster University & taught French at an outstanding university in USA You mention "where you are born, and to whom" being important. At one school where I was principal teacher there were classes for French Immersion for Grades 6, 7 & 8. Those classes were very like enrichment classes because of the gene pool from which they came.

    I could rattle on about why there is an achievement gap between boys & girls.

    Your section about EQAO helped me overcome my bias against that system.

    My instructor at U of T. said that very little value should be placed on a one-time exam.

    He said if the teacher has kept track of the performance of test items for a minimum of 10 years & sequences them properly, if the student arrives for the test in perfect physical health, if the student arrives in perfect emotional health & if the first item is a give-away, the arithmetic score is + or - 72%!!!

    In my years at U of T we were told it took 10 years to standardize a test. EQAO works miracles in standardizing a test question in 3 years!

    At another time I will give you my take on the temperature value of any sequence of tests IQ or EQAC. Thanks for you time.

    From Frank Gue:

    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.

    From Patrick J. Daly:

    Dear Teri:

    I would like to congratulate you on your recent series of articles. They were extremely well written and served to raise the profile of a crucially important issue.

    As a Catholic School System we are committed to equity in educational opportunity and improving the level of achievement for socio-economically disadvantaged students. Your articles acknowledged the good work of our teachers and other staff while strengthening our resolve to do even more.

    Congratulations once again.

    Yours very truly

    Patrick J. Daly

    Chairperson of the Board