October 30, 2003

Educational reform in Quebec

Grading policy overhauled in Quebec. Larry Braden posted this item from the Montreal Gazette (October 29, 2003) to a mailing list. Quebec's educational reform, which was started in 2000 in grades 1 and 2 of the elementary schools, is approaching secondary schools, and some observes are befuddled.

"The policy is definitely progressive and brilliant," said Elizabeth Therrien Scanlan, executive director of the Quebec Association of Independent Schools. "But it still isn't very clear."

And that appears to be a supporter speaking. The reform includes grouping two grade levels together into two-year cycles, and this was started in 2000 when Grades 1 and 2 became Cycle 1.

Evaluation: Evaluation is no longer just about giving out marks, or determining whether a student has learned his or her stuff. Now, evaluation is defined as a way of helping students learn better.

Students can only be held back at the end of a two-year cycle, rather than at the end of the school year. And students are to held back only in extreme cases, such as missing classes for most of the year.

It seems that the fuzzies are in charge of education in Quebec.

Posted by Bas Braams at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2003

UC Berkeley admissions policies

UC Berkeley Admissions Scrutinized. The Los Angeles Times reports on a confidential report on UC Berkeley admissions. According to the Times the study found that hundreds of highly qualified applicants were rejected in favor of freshmen who were 'marginally academically qualified'. It is apparently a preliminary analysis:

The report was prepared at the request of regents Chairman John J. Moores. It is based on university data, but contains extensive analysis that primarily was written by Moores. The report does not attempt to explain the reasons for UC Berkeley's admissions patterns. It does not break down admissions by race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, nor does it measure changes over time.

We take note of that disclaimer. The study nevertheless finds that overall, the admissions process at UC Berkeley "might not be compatible with [the school's] goal of maintaining academic excellence." For defence of the process the LA Times article quotes the head of admissions committee, an education professor, who says that the campus is in full compliance with the regents' stated policy on admissions. The admissions office finds other indicators of academic strength, notably high grades.

The study relies primarily on SAT data for its conclusions, and UC Berkeley certainly does well to look much beyond the SAT (the SAT-I, that is) in assessing its applicants. But I think that if they really mean to look for academic strength then a better measure than school grades would be performance on some collection of high quality standardized tests. Please see also my July 18, 2003, Blog entry UC Regents approve new admissions test policy.

Posted by Bas Braams at 08:41 AM | Comments (1)