While EQAO test scores are an important gauge on a school’s performance, certainly it is not the only factor parents should consider when looking for Mississauga School Rankings, Oakville School Rankings, Burlington School Rankings, Markham School Rankings or any of the other rankings in the GTA. Because of socio-economic factors and demographics, I feel that some schools appear to be much EASIER to teach at than others – that is, those “easier” schools would be much more likely, in my opinion, to corral higher EQAO pass-rates. To me, this might be unfair and unjust, which is why I established the Teacher Support Index to attempt to “level the playing field”.
The Teacher Support Index
There is absolutely no reason for coming up with a Teacher Support Index (TSI) beside this one: All things being equal, if a school is the EASIEST to teach at (i.e. has the most “support”), then that school should have the highest pass-rates. Conversely, if a school is the HARDEST to teach at, then that school should have the lowest pass-rates. The team at SusiHomes.com feel that deviations from these assumptions may provide an authoritative glimpse into a school administration’s actual performance relative to other schools in the Board. That is, those schools that are performing above socio-economic expectations can be (rightly or wrongly) assumed to employ exemplary teachers and administrators, while those performing below expectations should be concerned. A controversial assumption? Perhaps. But it is the opinion of the team at SusiHomes.com that it is still clearly relevant to parents who need to quantify performance for comparison.
The TSI is calculated from an involved formula that considers three sources that can effect a teacher’s ability to easily teach: home situation (“Home”), parental education (“Parent”) and student language barriers (“ESL”). The validity of these sources came through casual discussions with professional educators during 2008 and 2009, and are also indicated through several Canadian journal articles. The home situation takes into account the median household income in a school district, and also the percentage of single parents in a school district. Generally (yet not as a rule), higher income households produce students that are easier to teach, and single parents often have a much more difficult time staying atop their child’s progress in school. Teachers can teach, but in my opinion they need help from either their student, their student’s parents, or both.
Parental education is also a mitigating factor in a teacher’s “support”… it is true that those parents who have a university education have a far greater interest in making sure their children do well in school, while those parents with a high school education (or having no high school diploma at all) generally will have less of an interest in this. And of course student language barriers in the classroom, i.e. the amount of ESL students and recent immigrants, are also a factor for teachers. The numbers pulled for the TSI come from EQAO website itself, the latest Census, and Environics Analytics (a reputable and well-respected data/demographics company).
Although the above sources of difficulty have been agreed upon by both professional educators and academic studies, they are of course simply generalizations. For instance, there are many single parents who do better jobs with their children than double parents, just as there are children from high-income families that are petulant and disrespectful and can make a teacher’s life miserable at times. Yet we at SusiHomes.com believe that generally, the above sources of difficulty are valid. All of the above data is simply cut and pasted from from EQAO reports and also from custom-built, school-district-specific demographics that were purchased from Environics Analytics.
All the above factors can be argued to affecting a child’s performance in the classroom, and thus the ability of the teacher to effectively teach. (Class-size and maternity-leaves can also be affecting factors, but have been left out because of high ambiguity and incomplete data. French Immersion schools are said to generally attract a more well-prepared student, but also are not considered for the TSI.) Special Education is also said to affect EQAO pass-rates, and again, we have now tried to combat that ambiguity for NSE students. The most recent years of demographic data were naturally given more weight in the final computations for Susi’s School Rankings.