Faulty Comparisons

Note: This is a post referring to the public Canadian education system, specifically high school. This excludes charter schools and private schools.

Many people assume that Canada has better education system than the U.S. That statement has been “true” a few years ago but I think things are starting to change now. When I see statistics comparing the education system, I often question the credibility of the study. I have this doubt because the Canadian system is substantially different compared to the U.S.

For example, PAT’s and SAT’s vary in length and difficulty. Some states may have mandated tests at the end of each year while some provinces in Canada do not. Some provinces in Canada are less stringent and don’t require schools to complete yearly testing. As you can clearly see, the standards vary greatly even within Canada. Therefore, you can’t rely much on the education system just by looking at the test results.

One of the latest issues is the introduction of trigonometry. The Alberta curriculum has revised the curriculum during 2014-2015 stating the introduction of “sin, cosine, and tangent” in grade 10. Previously,  sine and cosine were already introduced during grade 9. So I’m aware that students have heard the term ‘tangent’ in grade 6-8. However, the introduction of the mundane soh cah toa came as late as in high school. I feel that sometimes the system is dumbing itself down due to low test scores and results. In other words, we are relying too much on standardized testing and it is becoming detrimental.

There also seems to be errors when collecting data because some studies don’t take the population/student size into consideration. This often leads to skewed results which can often confuse exchange students. Over the years, I have heard many American students starting topics that Canadian students haven’t even encountered. This is a bland statement as I have been reading the curriculum for the state of New Jersey which has high schools ranked in the top 3 in the country. Again, there’s too much discrepancy between states and calculating the average test scores will only lead to skewed results.

I want to conclude this post by saying that people should question the legitimacy of these comparisons. While Charter and private schools are performing increasingly well, public education needs to be revamped including the curriculum.

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