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C. D. Howe Institute ranks Alberta schools

Methodology provides lesson in skewing statistics.

C. D. Howe Institute ranks Alberta schoolsby Dennis Theobald, The ATA News

Across Canada, teachers returning to their classrooms this September were greeted with fresh attacks on their competence and professionalism from the usual assortment of right-wing think-tanks determined to impose their own narrow brand of accountability on the nation’s schools.

In Alberta, the C. D. Howe Institute took a break from its usual lobbying for corporate tax cuts, unrestricted foreign investment and health care user fees to release School Grades: Identifying Alberta’s Best Public Schools. The report purports to rank the performance of more than 1,000 elementary schools in Alberta and was accompanied by a breathless news release titled "Alberta’s best, and worst, elementary schools revealed in ground-breaking school grades report."

While Alberta teachers are used to the Fraser Institute peddling its school rankings, the C. D. Howe Institute moves the activity up a notch. Written by David Johnson, professor of economics at Wilfrid Laurier University and "education policy scholar" at the Toronto-based think-tank, the report uses sophisticated analytical techniques in an attempt to control for various socio-economic factors that might influence student performance...

Dennis Theobald is the Alberta Teachers' Association's communications coordinator.

Links and sources
  "Think-tank springs leaks", by Dennis Theobald, ATA News, Volume 42.

Posted: April 08, 2008

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