VANCOUVER, BC—The Fraser Institute today published its annual British Columbia elementary school performance reports, showing which schools across the province have improved, or fallen behind, in terms of reading, writing, and math over the past five years.
“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 Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies.
“The Fraser Institute’s school report card is the only source for long-term, provincewide school performance data that helps parents monitor the performance of their child’s school and help educators identify key areas for improvement in their classrooms.”
The Report Card on British Columbia’s Elementary Schools 2012 highlights school success stories in every corner of the province, from Sooke to Sparwood. For example, Burnaby’s Montecito Elementary School, where ESL students account for 38.5 per cent of total enrollment and the average parental income is less than $37,000, ranks among the top 10 per cent of elementary schools BC-wide in academic achievement. Sparwood’s Frank J. Mitchell Elementary School, where the average parental income is almost $20,000 below the average for all schools, ranks among the top 15 per cent of elementary schools in the province.
The 20 schools showing the fastest academic improvement over the past five years includes 11 public schools where parental incomes are below average. At one of these schools, ESL students account for 57.2 per cent of the total student population; at another, 11 per cent of students are special needs. The complete list follows.
“This shows that academic excellence is possible in every school, regardless of the personal and family circumstances of its student population. Without provincewide testing and the Fraser Institute report card, measuring academic improvement and identifying success stories like these would be impossible,” Cowley said.
“But the teachers’ union doesn’t want parents to be able to compare schools based on how well they’re doing academically. That’s a great disservice to parents, and most importantly, to British Columbia’s children.”
The Report Card on British Columbia’s Elementary Schools 2012 rates 860 public and independent 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 parents’ average income, the percentage of ESL students, and the percentage of special needs students. 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 18.4 per cent of FSA tests written in 2011 scored below provincial expectations, down from 20.1 per cent in 2010.
“While there has been some improvement over the previous year, almost one in five FSA tests written by BC elementary school students still failed to meet the provincial standard for learning. As always, the teachers’ union wants to prevent the public from hearing about that. Are they afraid that parents and taxpayers will demand better?” Cowley said.
Parents have shown great interest in the report card since its inception in 2003. Last year alone, 604,000 individual school reports and school comparisons on BC elementary schools were downloaded by parents and others from <www.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.
“Education is a top priority for British Columbians, and the Fraser Institute report card is the only source for impartial, provincewide data that shows whether schools have improved or declined in terms of reading, writing, and math over the past five years,” Cowley said.
“If the teachers’ union has its way, parents will be left in the dark about whether BC schools are meeting basic academic standards. Allowing the public to see whether schools are getting better or worse in terms of academics is the only way to ensure that students’ needs are being put first. We need provincewide testing to make sure that happens.”
Top 20 Fastest-Improving BC Elementary Schools
- J. S. Clark (Public), Fort Nelson
- Lions Gate Christian (Independent), North Vancouver
- Muheim Memorial (Public), Smithers
- Sk'aadgaa Naay (Public), Skidegate
- G. W. Carlson (Public), Fort Nelson
- Cataline (Public), Williams Lake
- Iqra Islamic (Independent), Surrey
- Prespatou (Public), Prespatou
- Dasmesh Punjabi (Independent), Abbotsford
- Walter Lee (Public), Richmond
- Upper Pine (Public), Fort St. John
- McLeod Road (Public), Surrey
- Twain Sullivan (Public), Houston
- Myrtle Philip (Public), Whistler
- Halfmoon Bay (Public), Halfmoon Bay
- Bench (Public), Cowichan Bay
- Hillview (Public), Vernon
- Vanway (Public), Prince George
- Star Of The Sea (Independent), Surrey
- W. L. McLeod (Public), Vanderhoof