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School rankings are advocacy disguised as research: expert

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Teachers aren’t the only ones who take issue with the ranking of secondary schools released by the Fraser Institute yesterday.

One education professor feels it’s just advocacy disguised as research.

This year, no public schools cracked the top ten and Dan Laitsch with Simon Fraser University says the formula used tends to favour private institutions, as they have competitive admissions standards.

“So, if you’re already admitting students who are being successful on standardized assessments, it’s not a surprise that they tend to also do well on the provincial assessments,” he explains.

“Therefore, the report card ranking is going to be higher.”

Laitsch adds public schools tend to be punished for working with students who achieve at a variety of levels, “and it doesn’t really tell you about what is happening in that school with those students.”

He feels the rankings ignore the broader body of elective coursework and student outcomes.

Laitsch doesn’t discount the Fraser Institute’s work entirely, but says whenever you evaluate the quality of research, you should bear in mind who is funding it and any ideological bent they may have.

“We care very much about our children and their future… so it’s not at all surprising that we’re worried about how well the schools are doing. The hard part is that there is no easy answer.”