VANCOUVER, BC—The Fraser Institute today released its annual elementary school report card showing which BC elementary schools are improving in academic performance over time.
“Using the Fraser Institute report card, parents can easily identify schools that show improved academic performance year to year. And if their child’s school is not improving, or has declined, the report card gives parents the information they can use to ask questions of school administrators and teachers,” said Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies.
The report card shows that improvement is possible in every school. For example, Fairview Community School of Nanaimo, where the average parental income is less than $26,000, ranks among the top 20 fastest-improving schools in the province.
“Unfortunately, the teachers’ union doesn’t want parents and BC taxpayers to see the report card. The union doesn’t want parents to be able to compare schools based on student assessments, which is why it is battling so hard to halt provincewide standardized testing,” Cowley said.
The Report Card on British Columbia’s Elementary Schools 2011 highlights school success stories in every corner of the province, from Prince Rupert to Revelstoke. Of the top 20 schools showing the greatest academic improvement over the past five years, 15 are public schools where average parental incomes range from $25,900 to $82,900. At one such school, ESL students account for 57.9 per cent of the total student population; at another, more than 17 per cent of students are special needs; and at a third, 30 per cent of the students are aboriginal.
“The success of these schools shows improvement is possible in every school, no matter what the personal and family characteristics of the students. These remarkable success stories would go unrecognized if it weren’t for standardized testing and the Fraser Institute report card,” Cowley said.
“The teachers’ union wants to deny parents, educators, and taxpayers this information. It doesn’t want to acknowledge the fact that improvement is possible and that it can only be identified by comparing school performance based on student assessments.”
The Report Card on British Columbia’s Elementary Schools 2011 rates 875 public and private elementary schools across the province based on 10 key indicators using data from provincewide testing, known as the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA), mandated by the BC Ministry of Education.
The report card also includes key contextual information about each school, including the percentage of ESL students, percentage of special needs students, and parents’ average income. Results of the report card are available in an interactive and searchable format or as a free PDF at www.compareschoolrankings.org.
Data contained in this year’s report card also shows that 20.1 per cent of FSA tests written in 2010 scored below provincial expectations.
“This tells us that about one in five of the FSA tests written by BC’s elementary school students did not meet the expected provincial standard. Why does the teachers’ union want to hide this information from the public? Does the public not have a right to know?” Cowley said.
Parents have shown a significant interest in the report card since its inception in 2003. Last year alone, 240,000 individual school reports and school comparisons on BC elementary schools were downloaded by parents and others from compareschoolrankings.org. A 2008 COMPAS poll of more than 1,000 BC parents found overwhelming support for the BC Ministry of Education’s provincewide testing policy and for the idea that parents should be able to use the results of those tests to compare schools.
“British Columbians are clearly concerned about school improvement, and the Fraser Institute report card is the only easily accessible, objective tool that helps them identify whether schools are meeting students’ academic needs,” Cowley said.
“The teachers’ union has become the bully in the schoolyard, and its crusade to kill the report card by undermining standardized testing is unconscionable.”
Most-improved schools over past five years:
- Annunciation (independent), Prince Rupert
- Prespatou (public), Prespatou
- Dasmesh Punjabi (independent), Abbotsford
- Columbia Park (public), Revelstoke
- G W Carlson (public), Fort Nelson
- Valleycliffe (public), Squamish
- C M Finch (public), Fort St. John
- James Thompson (public), Richmond
- Halfmoon Bay (public), Halfmoon Bay
- Twain Sullivan (public), Houston
- Vancouver College (independent), Vancouver
- Mountainview Montessori (public), Surrey
- Hillview (public), Vernon
- Star Of The Sea (independent), Surrey
- Grief Point (public), Powell River
- Fairview (public), Nanaimo
- Dr. F D Sinclair (public), Surrey
- East Chilliwack (public), Chilliwack
- W L McLeod (public), Vanderhoof
- Abbotsford Christian (independent), Abbotsford