April 21st, 2019

Alberta education system not performing well at all

By Letter to the Editor on November 7, 2018.

Alberta Education’s most recent assessment of Alberta students is:

“Overall, the education system is continuing to perform well. Seventeen performance measure targets were either exceeded or achieved. Provincial survey results indicate strong agreement that students (85 per cent) and self-identified First Nations, Métis and Inuit students are engaged in their learning at school (80 per cent).”

Which only goes to prove that anything may be true if you can believe that it is true. In this case truth has nothing to do with fact. The Alberta system is not performing well.

The Alberta Department of Education continues to develop curriculum that emphasizes ‘discovery learning’, despite the preponderance of evidential research that shows students exposed to discovery methodology underperform compared to those learning under more traditional methodologies.

The Alberta Department of Education has and is eliminating province-wide achievement testing, despite the evidence as cited in a 2011 Maclean’s article that Alberta students were recognized nation wide for their superior performance. Maclean’s said, “The province [Alberta] prepares students for post-secondary better than its neighbours, has some of the country’s most satisfied students and punches above its weight in research.” What reasons did Maclean’s give to support ‘maverick Alberta’s education system is better’? …

“One reason Alberta’s students are much better prepared is that they study long and hard to pass provincial standardized exams, which account for 50 per cent of their Grade 12 marks. Students in other provinces are graded more subjectively, making it easier for teachers to give high marks.

The higher standards are well-known. In recognition of the high standards, the University of British Columbia automatically raises Albertan students’ grades two per cent when they apply.”

And when compared to the rest of the world? “Alberta’s 15-year-olds came second in the world in reading and fourth in the world in science in the 2009 PISA study, the gold-standard international test. Those were the top scores in Canada.”

Maclean’s wrote this article in 2011. What has happened in seven short years? Top scores no longer, but ‘performance measures’ are exceeded! It appears that two successive governments led by a Department of Education with a ‘progressivist’ social agenda shifted focus to activist values rather than skills and knowledge.

Richard Dietrich

Medicine Hat

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