Robert Barron Citizen
Private school Sunrise Waldorf in Duncan tops the controversial Fraser Institute’s annual report card for the Cowichan Valley for the 2014-15 school year.
The school received a 9.4 grade out of 10, and was ranked 30th out of the 944 elementary schools from across the province in the latest report card from the institute, released last week.
Queen Margaret’s School, another private institution, came second in the valley with a score of 7.7, with the school ranked 150th in B.C.
Maple Bay and Cobble Hill elementary schools tied for the top public school in the valley in the report, scoring 6.6 and tying for the 318th position in the province.
At the other end of the spectrum is Chemainus Elementary School, which scored 2.4 out of 10, and was ranked 914 in B.C. Alexander Elementary shows as 0.0, as not enough students participated to reach a score.
Each school’s grades are based on the results of foundation skills assessment tests that are given annually to Grade 4 and Grade 7 students across the province to test their proficiency in basic math, reading and writing skills.
The B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils has spoken out in support of the FSA tests, stating that they provide important information about the effectiveness of a school’s programs.
But B.C.’s teachers have been campaigning to boycott FSA testing for years, claiming that the mandatory tests intrude on teaching time and are unfairly used to rank schools.
Officials in the Cowichan Valley school district also take exception to FSA testing and the fact that the Fraser Institute uses the test results to rank schools.
Chairwoman Candace Spilsbury said it’s “very difficult” to put a lot of faith in the FSA testing. She said the testing is not based on assessments that are “authentic.”
“The FSA testing is just one snapshot in time in our schools, while the instruction in our classrooms is ongoing learning for both teachers and students,” Splisbury said.
“The testing does not work for the new curriculum that is now being used in the province, and we are supporting the new methods of assessment that are being devised by the Ministry [of Education]. We hope they will be in place sooner rather than later.”
But the Fraser Institute has long maintained that the rankings, quickly available on its website, help parents and teachers compare schools by showing which schools have shown improvement, and which schools have fallen behind.
“Our report card is the only objective, reliable tool that parents have to compare the academic performance of their child’s school over time and to that of other schools in their community,” said report co-author Peter Cowley.
“When parents see the report card’s objective evidence that a school’s results are consistently low or declining, they often become very effective advocates for improvement. Every year, every school in the province must find ways to improve student result. It’s as simple as that.”
Fraser Institute Rankings
Cowichan Valley School District
2014/15 Last 5 years
Sunrise Waldorf 9.4 n/a
Queen Margaret’s 7.7 n/a
Maple Bay 6.6 6.0
Cobble Hill 6.6 5.1
Mount Prevost 6.4 n/a
Alex Aitken 6.3 4.9
Bench 5.1 6.8
St. Joseph’s 5.1 n/a
Crofton 4..8 6.0
Queen of Angels 4.8 5.6
Drinkwater 4.6 4.1
Discovery 3.5 4.8
Tansor 3.3 n/a
Duncan Christian 3.8 n/a
George Bonner 2.8 n/a
Chemainus 2.4 n/a
Alexander 0.0 n/a
SOURCE: Fraser Institute