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Almost half of Alberta's best performing high schools found in rural towns and hamlets

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Release Date: June 14, 2009

CALGARY, AB-Twenty-two of the 50 top-performing high schools in Alberta can be found in rural communities, according to the Report Card on Alberta's High Schools 2009, released today by independent research organization the Fraser Institute.

"Almost half of the highest performing high schools in the province are found in small, rural communities scattered across Alberta," said Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies.

"Teachers and administrators in these schools have found ways to ensure student success, regardless of the families' income or the location of the school."

Redwater High school in the small community of Redwater is the highest ranked rural school at seventh. Vauxhall High School ranked ninth, Kate Andrews High School in Coaldale is 13th, and Foremost High School  ranked 15th. A complete list of the top-performing rural high schools is included at the end of this news release.

The Report Card on Alberta's High Schools 2009 rates 283 public, private, separate, and charter high schools from across Alberta based on eight key indicators derived from Grade-12 province-wide exam results and grade-to-grade transition data provided by Alberta Education.

This annual report card, compiles data from these indicators into easily read charts that allow anyone to analyze and compare the performance of individual schools. Parents consult the report card when they are choosing a school and use it as an annual audit of how their children's school is doing academically.

The Report Card also provides background information on the individual and family characteristics of each school's students. It reports the percentage of ESL, special needs, and French immersion students at the school and the average parental income level of the students' families. These measures provide some context within which to analyze each school's results.

"Parents have repeatedly shown they value the ability to track the performance of their child's school and compare it to other schools," Cowley said.

"Our report card allows parents to quickly and easily determine if their child's school is improving or declining academically. It also gives parents information they can use in discussions with teachers and principals."

Cowley said critics of the Fraser Institute report card too often excuse a school's poor results by blaming them on socio-economic factors. By doing so, these critics are essentially writing off a student's chances of success if the family happens to enjoy only a modest income.

"The entire school system should be dedicated to ensuring that all children--no matter where they live or how much their parents earn--acquire the skills and knowledge they will need to continue their studies and go on to live a happy and prosperous life as adults in Canada. Educators must continuously improve their practice in order to find new ways of helping their students succeed," he said.

Alberta's Top Performing Rural High Schools 2009