FSA elementary school rankings

  • Feb. 14, 2011 3:00 p.m.

The Fraser Institute has released its annual elementary school report card showing which B.C. 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,” said Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies.

The Report Card on British Columbia’s Elementary Schools 2011 (http://britishcolumbia.compareschoolrankings.org/elementary/Default.aspx) highlights school success stories in every corner of the province. 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 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 as a free PDF at http://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 B.C.’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.

A 2008 COMPAS poll of more than 1,000 BC parents found overwhelming support for the BC Ministry of Education’s provincewide testing and for the idea that parents should be able to use the results 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.

Barriere Elementary shows this year’s rating as the highest since 2006 when it was ranked 5.5 out of 10, 6.1 in 2007, 5.3 in 2008, 6.0 in 2009, and 6.9 in 2010. There was a percentage of 0.5 tests not written in 2010 compared to 3.5 in 2009, and 7.9 in 2008. The Grade 4s scored slightly below the 2009 rankings in reading, writing and numeracy, With the Grade 7 classes showing an increase in all three divisions. The school ranked ninth out of 29 in the Kamloops/Thompson district as a result of the 2010 FSA testing.