Ontario performance indicators ‘hogwash,’ critics charge –But community college group says KPI data beneficial

Ontario performance indicators ‘hogwash,’ critics charge –But community college group says KPI data beneficial

TORONTO (CUP) — The Ontario government’s latest batch of key performance indicator (KPI) rewards are being dismissed as “hogwash” by critics.

In early March, the provincial Tories announced that an additional $16.4 million has been awarded to colleges who met or surpassed criteria set out by employers and students, as well as employment rates after graduation. The government argues the measures promote accountability to taxpayers and students.

“The government thinks parents and students deserve a clear picture,” said Tanya Cholakov, a spokesperson for Ontario’s ministry of training, colleges and universities.
“This system gives concrete evidence and provides tools to find out how the colleges and universities are performing.”

Bill Bruneau, former president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, says the ministry’s reasoning for KPIs is “lazy academics.” He says the world and economy change so fast that no one can predict trends in education. He also says the government should be encouraging students to get a more rounded education.

“They have bought into outdated business theories and let factory-floor style indicators and customer controls emerge,” said Bruneau. “Customers don’t control General Motors; that’s hogwash. The governments of Ontario and Alberta have bought into this hogwash.”
Bruneau says the only thing KPIs do successfully is justify budget cuts.

Joel Duff, Ontario chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students, agrees.

Duff says the system is designed so that some colleges lose out and says the schools that lose the funding often need it to improve. He also says dangling a carrot tied to a stick does not encourage improvement.

“Train the best and shoot the rest — that seems to be the government’s philosophy” said Duff. “They take this “?beat them with the stick’ approach if they fail.

“They stress efficiency over quality and want to micromanage policy. This is not encouraging and obviously long-term planning is not a government priority.”

Tanya Boyer, executive director of the Ontario Community College Student Parliamentary Association, says her group is in favour of the indicators.

“The system is shaping behaviour in a good way,” said Boyer. “It’s helping schools plan their course and do better work.”

Boyer says there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the college system.

“Colleges benefit from KPIs because they get data about themselves when they find out their score,” said Boyer. “They should then be able to use this data to affect change. They need to do more analysis and find better ways to support students and graduates.”