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Real estate agents should sell houses, not rank schools

September 09, 2013

A Toronto real estate agent who decided to formulate her own school rankings has drawn ire from a SFU professor of education. In a jointly written op-ed featured in the Globe and Mail, Drs. Kelleen Toohey and Tracey Derwing, from the University of Alberta, call the real estate agent's school ranking alarming.

"One element of her rankings, ESL learners in the classroom, is one on which we have conducted extensive research.

It is completely inappropriate to assume that just because a child or youth speaks English as a second language, he or she causes more difficulty for the teacher. Simply looking at raw numbers of ESL speakers in a school and deciding that larger numbers equate with more difficulty is absurd.

Factors such as previous education in the first language, competence in the first language, country of origin, immigration class (independent, family, refugee), parental ability to help the child, student behaviour, overall family income, and teacher training are other predictors of success. For example, in a study of Vancouver public schools, Lee Gunderson found that Mandarin-speaking students 'scored significantly higher than Canadian born students, with math averages phenomenally high.'"

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