Of 944 B.C. schools compared in Fraser Institute’s annual elementary school ranking, two elementary schools in the Burns Lake area were among the worst positions in this years’ report card.
William Konkin Elementary placed 939 and scored 0.0 overall while Decker Lake Elementary placed 929 and scored 1.6.
The school ranking has been widely criticized by a number of educators and institutions, including School District No. 91 (Nechako Lakes).
Manu Madhok, Assistant Superintended for School District 91, said the report is “fundamentally flawed.”
“Similar to many, many public schools across this province, our educators have learned to take the Fraser Institute rankings in context of where they come from,” he said. “We work hard to not let the rankings demoralize our educators but you can imagine what it feels like to have your school be judged in a report that is fundamentally flawed in design.”
When asked why the school district considers the report flawed, Madhok said the report provides a “limited snapshot of student performance.”
“There are a variety of factors that determine school readiness that are not taken into account by the Fraser Institute,” said Madhok. “Rankings exaggerate minuscule differences and unfortunately the rankings do not show the excellent work that is done daily by our educators.”
Madhok says factors that are not taken into account in the school ranking include family income, students with special needs and parental educational attainment.
Despite the criticism, the Fraser Institute says their report cards are widely read every year. In 2015, their website – www.compareschoolrankings.org – had about 1.9 million visitors.
Peter Cowle, Director of School Performance Studies at the Fraser Institute, explained that the website allows both parents and educators to make useful comparisons of academic performance among schools. He said parents use the rankings when choosing a school for their children while educators can see where they stand in the pack and how much room there is to improve.
Cowle says the ranking list is itself a tool of comparison, answering the question, “In general, how has this school done in key academic subjects compared to all the other schools in the ranking?”
Cowle also defends the need to rank schools across the country.
“Are we as a society willing to allow the most important industry in this country – the education industry – to be run by folks who say, ‘Trust us, we’re doing a terrific job, don’t measure anything,’” said Cowle. “As a citizen of this country, I vote no.”
“If you have a school where the kids are not acquiring the basic skills of knowledge – reading, writing and numeracy – that they are going to need to successfully complete high-school and pursue post-secondary education, we’ve got to change it.”
“It’s not me that’s at issue here, it’s not the report card, it’s how do we make the best possible education for our kids,” he added.
The Fraser Institute’s evaluations are based on Grade 4 and Grade 7 foundation skills test results.
Vanderhoof’s W.L. McLeod Elementary placed 688 and scored 5.0 while Evelyn Dickson Elementary placed 771 and scored 4.5. Sinkut View Elementary, also from Vanderhoof, placed 847 and scored 3.8. Fraser Lake Elementary-Secondary placed 938 and scored 0.3.
Not all schools within School District 91 are included in the report. A school will only be included in the report if it has a minimum of 10 students enrolled in Grade 4.
The ranking of B.C. high-schools will be released in May.