For elementary schools in the Comox Valley, there are some changes in the Fraser Institute rankings this year, with some showing a moderate gain or drop, but nothing dramatic in most cases.
The right-wing think-tank has been putting out its school report card for several years and recently released its 2020 rankings, based on results from the 2018/19 school year.
One fact to consider is elementary school grades tend to be much smaller than secondary grades, meaning questions about greater fluctuations from year to year. As well, a school’s result is at most a reflection of two grade levels in any one year, not the whole school.
The grades the Fraser Institute gives out are based on a ranking system – with a maximum score of 10.0 – which itself is determined from other data. Most notably, the elementary rankings rely heavily on foundation skills assessment (FSA) results, measuring the abilities of students in grades 4 and 7 in numeracy, reading and writing. Theses assessments themselves have been the subject of controversy.
Along with the FSA data, the report card incorporates gender gap results, percentage of ESL students, special needs students, French immersion students and parental income. The school tables also give five-year numbers for each school.
“The report card offers parents information they can’t easily find anywhere else, about how their child’s school performs over time and how it compares to other schools in the province,” Peter Cowley, report co-author and senior fellow at the Fraser Institute, said in a news release.
In the Comox Valley, many of the schools come in around the 5.0 mark, suggesting they are near or slightly below the median figure for school results of a 5.9 score. One Comox Valley school dropped more than two points in their overall mark last year, largely due to numeracy results, versus the previous year. Oddly, one school showed upward trends in a few test categories, but had a small drop of 0.10 out of 10 for its overall mark.
The Phil & Jennie Gaglardi Academy, an independent school, was the highest ranked school in the Valley at 6.6, followed by Ecole Robb Road, at 6.3, though both were down slightly from the previous year.
The report card has met with its share of critics over the years. In 2018, the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation called the report card’s ranking “bogus” and “useless clickbait.” The previous year, the British Columbia School Trustees’ Association called on the province not to release FSA results to the general public out of concern over how the data were being used.
If anyone wants more information, the report can be found at www.compareschoolrankings.org.