The Ministry of Education of British Columbia evaluates its schools through standard testing to pupils in Grades Four and Seven. Caring Muslims examine these results in order to know what is going on in our schools. They usually compare results of this year to previous results to find out whether there is progress or regress. They also check the results with other schools and other organizations. The Ministry focuses on the evaluation of foundation skills in three areas: Reading Comprehension, Writing and Numeracy (Mathematics.) The Ministry publishes results online under the title of Foundation Skills Assessment abbreviated as F.S.A.
This paper is written under the following assumptions:
• The Ministry of Education produces reliable, trusted and representative figures.
• Comparison between figures is not only desirable but also essential to self-evaluation. So, Muslim Schools could be compared with other sets of schools such as the Surrey School District, as well as all Independent schools and Public schools within the province.
When I checked their website (www.bced.gov.bc.ca) my objective was to answer the following four questions:
• How do Muslim Schools compare with District of Surrey in the academic year 2006/07?
• How do Muslim Schools compare with All Independent Schools (AIS) 2006/07?
• How do Muslim Schools compare with the Province as a whole – 2006/07?
These three questions will be answered in the following Tables. All Tables show percentage of students meeting expectations in Grade 4 . This article does not compare Grade 7 results as not all Muslim Schools offer this grade.
Muslim Schools Grade 4 – 2006/07
(Percentage of Students Meeting Expectations)
Az-Zahra Islamic Academy
BC Muslim School
Surrey Muslim School
Muslim School Performance and Others Grade 4 – 2006/07
Average Muslim School
District of Surrey
All Independent Schools
Average Muslim School Performance Compared to Others
(Grade 4 – 2006/07)
Muslim Schools are higher + or lower –
All Independent Schools
• According to Table 3, the average Muslim school performs generally better than the Surrey School District. However, the average Muslim School performance is slightly behind the Provincial average in Reading Comprehension and Numeracy.
• Compared to all Independent Schools, the average Muslim School performs equally in Writing but lower in Reading Comprehension (15 points) and also lower in Numeracy (8 points). The implications are that Muslim schools should work harder to catch up with Independent Schools in these two areas. Muslim educators should keep this fact in mind when they plan their work for years to come. If we compare our last three-year results to those of the Khalsa School, we find that we are still lower in three areas: Reading Comprehension (9 points), Numeracy (6 points) and all skills put together (5 points). With respect to the skill of Writing, both schools are equal. The Khalsa School has been selected as a reference for three reasons: 1) It is a religious-based school 2) the size of our population (number of students who participated in assessment) is comparable; 114 for Muslim schools and 143 for Khalsa and 3) the Khalsa School is generally comparable because of geographic proximity.
• The performance of Muslim schools does change over time. There is nothing wrong with halal competition. Muslim schools should also co-operate by sharing their activities. Examples are athletic days, academic programs, and public speaking and staff visitations to name a few. Ranking schools based on only FSA results may lead to misleading comparisons that ignore the particular circumstances that affect achievement in each school.
• The discussion so far focused on the three foundation skills as defined and evaluated by the Ministry. But what about the development of Islamic personality rooted in the Quran and Sunnah. In this area, Muslim schools have no competition.
• The FSA results show partial assessment and should be treated as such. Comprehensive evaluation could be performed mainly by the Principals and teachers, who have first-hand experience with day-to-day operation of their schools.
Sure, we take our children to Muslim schools to be raised as good Muslims but we do not want to compromise academic excellence or foundation skills. The Muslim community should help its schools in every way possible to reach the goals they set for themselves.
Before closing, I would like to thank the educators of this community for their advice during the early stage of article preparation. Special thanks go to Sr. Zainab Dhanani, the Principal of Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy, for her valuable comments. The author of this article would like to invite community members to respond or provide feedback about the contents of this article or the F.S.A. test.
Dr. Mohammed Saleh is an educational consultant residing in Surrey, B.C. and he can be reached via his e-mail address email@example.com . Dr. Saleh’s articles are published first in Al-Ameen then posted on his site www.muslimeducators.com .