This slide tells an incredibly powerful and important story – it speaks to our values in education in British Columbia and Canada, and to our aspirations for students.
I have written a number of times in the past about PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results, most recently this past December – It is OK to Be Happy About PISA. And I always do so with the “it is only one test” caveat, but that said, it is still a widely regarded international benchmark on some key education outcomes.
So, just why is this one slide so important? It takes the 2015 results and plots jurisdiction based on their achievement in math, reading and science along the Y-axis and based on equity (the weakness of the relationship between family background and achievement) along the X-axis. So those jurisdictions in the top right of the graph are those with the highest levels of excellence and equity.
The jurisdictions in this sweet-spot that Sahlberg referred to as the “Highway to Heaven” include a cluster of Canadian provinces – BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec as well as Canada as a whole, along with just a couple other nations. (Note: Since education is under provincial not federal jurisdiction in Canada, individual provinces show up separately for PISA).
Strong equity and high quality – this is the story of our schools. And this speaks directly to our values in our education system. Of course this does not negate the work we need to do – there are a lot of areas to focus, including the success of our Aboriginal learners. In West Vancouver, we often look at how large the differences are between schools on any given measure – and see the lack of differences as just as much a mark of success as the high achievement. We want these ideals to run in tandem.
So, if I could just share one slide about “how we are doing” and “who do we want to continue to be” going forward, it would be this one.
And finally, coming back to a notion I have shared before, and shared with our colleagues from Alberta, instead of always looking around the world, we should be looking across the country – the Canadian education story is a good story and one we should tell, and work together to strengthen.