The Fraser Institute released it’s ranking of secondary schools in the province, the top rankings of which were dominated by private schools; York House and Little Flower shared the top spot as the best secondary schools in BC.
The highest ranking public high school on the list is University Hill at 19th, followed by Lord Byng at 24th. Both are based in Vancouver’s Westside.
The results have been criticized for promoting the privatization of education, rather than shining light on class sizes and other factors that can hold public schools back, a topic which took off today on CKNW.
Peter Kelly, the director of school performance studies with the Fraser Institute, joined Simi Sara to discuss the study and how standardized testing plays into the study.
“The overall rating answers one question: In general, how is the school doing in academics relative to all the others? … All of these tests, whether its elementary or secondary, are BC-based, BC-derived, BC-tested, and to the best of my knowledge, they will conform quite well to the curriculum that is mandated by the BC ministry of education. It is an important feedback mechanism for parents and for educators, even simply as a test. But in addition to that, it provides us with a data set that allows us to produce report cards which are also very important both for elementary schools and secondary schools.”
Currently, students are given two sets of tests in elementary school: one in grade 4, and in grade 7. In high school, students take three tests in grade 10, from math and science to French, or English. In grade 11, they only test in social studies, and once again in grade 12 in language arts.
“In secondary schools, we do look very carefully at test results,” says Kelly, “We look at the percentage of tests at each school that did not meet the provincial standard, we look at any gender gaps there might be, then we also look at our graduation rates supplied to us by the ministry of education as well as what we called a delayed advancement rate.”
Kelly says the rankings by the Fraser Institute can be useful for parents to judge a prospective school to send their children to, or to keep up to the date with how the school their kids currently attend is standing up against others.
“The purpose of the report card is: we need a measure of how well each school is doing in equipping its kids with skills and knowledge that they’re going to need in post-secondary and beyond,” Kelly told Simi in a live interview in studio. “If we agree on that, then the question is: Is there any value at all to any comparisons? Without the report card, you couldn’t even easily be able to compare the results at a school now versus its own history. To me, that’s the first and most useful comparison a parent and/or educator could make.”
The Fraser Institute started ranking schools for the public 18 years ago.