The Story Behind the Numbers

Attainment gap – the persistent disparity of educational measures between relatively privileged and unprivileged groups of students – is a seemingly intractable problem plaguing education. In this article, the author asks, how can schools best use the time and resources they do have to give all students the best chance at an equal footing with their more privileged – economically or otherwise – peers? Rather than a default response to extra tutoring for struggling students, he argues that soft data collection is needed to reveal the personal stories behind low achievement, and that an individualized, nuanced response to these stories can address some of the barriers to learning experienced by students. Sharing some examples from U.K. schools, he demonstrates how reaching out to students and their families and involving them in solutions pays off in both higher achievement and improved student well-being.

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A Different Kind of Choice

Each year a significant number of Indigenous families make the choice to move from their home communities in order to access the benefits of public provincial schools in cities and towns. Though these transplanted students’ new schools of choice may offer academic benefits, there are trade-offs that must also be considered. The richness of Indigenous philosophy and thought is, to a large extent, ghettoized in public schools. As a result, Indigenous students often feel disconnected from school and non-Indigenous students are robbed of the broader perspectives that would enrich their educational experience. At the same time, it lies within the powers of Canadian educational institutions to make the significant corrections necessary to reverse these dynamics and thus create the balance that all Canadian students deserve.

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Our Choice

Why do parents, and students, look beyond their neighbourhood school? The reasons are as varied as individuals. Some are looking for something “better” or closer to their own educational philosophy. Some children do not do well (academically or emotionally) in mainstream school, and need a different approach to help them succeed. Whatever the reason, the availability of choice is very important to these families. We asked four “education consumers” – three parents and a high-school student – to tell us why they chose a different kind of school.

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Dr. Kate Tilleczek: 2013 CEA Whitworth Award Winner
Teaching Out Loud (Episode 7) - Flipping the Classroom - Changing the Teacher-Learner Dynamic