Should taxpayers judge schools on student performance?

There is really just one reason for the ongoing controversy over the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA). It is that the teachers’ union is opposed to the use–by any organization or individual–of any school-level student assessment results to publicly rate schools.  My reading of the 13-year history of the FSA and the public statements and actions of union officials during this period supports this suggestion.

Why does the union object to this use of student assessment results? It does so because such ratings enable anyone to compare schools on a student performance measure that might be construed to reflect on the effectiveness of its union members.

There is, therefore, one critical question that should be asked and debated before any action is taken regarding the FSA: As a society, do we believe that the public should be able to compare schools that are funded in whole or in part by taxpayers on the basis of student performance data of any kind?

I believe the teachers’ union would answer in the negative. But if, the union were to surprise me and respond in the positive, then we need a thorough public discussion of this question.

Peter Cowley

Director of School Performance Studies

The Fraser Institute

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