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Fraser Institute's school ranking comes with criticism

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – This year’s report card is out, and once again, private and independent institutions dominate the Fraser Institute’s ranking of BC’s elementary schools.

The right-wing policy group puts out the list every year. It is pored over by parents, but should you make a decision based solely on these rankings? That’s where the jury is out.

The Institute’s rankings are based on the results of the provincial Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) testing of kids in Grades 4 to 7 in reading, writing, and numeracy; the Institute says it can identify schools that appear to have better academic programs.

Proponents say the rankings keep schools accountable to parents and taxpayers, but critics argue that it is a very narrow approach. Even the Fraser Institute says no parent should use its rankings alone to choose a school.

“The report card is one objective tool for parents to use when choosing a school for their child or when they want to keep informed about the school their child is attending. The report card should be used in conjunction with visits to the school and discussions with administrators, teachers, support staff, their child and other parents,” reads one answer in the FAQ section of the Fraser Institute’s School Report Cards website.

Many teachers and parents groups also argue that schools should move away from FSAs and standardized testing. In its 2011 education plan, the provincial government indicated it would start focusing on “personalized” learning.

Love them or hate them, the rankings were released this morning, with the Fraser Institute focusing on 46 schools that showed significant improvement in their academic performance over the past five years.

“We all want the best possible education for our children. To achieve this, every BC school should make improvement Job One,” says Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies.

Private schools make up 11 of the 12 top schools tied with perfect 10 out of 10 scores.