By Jennifer Thurbide
Two area schools found themselves on the other end of a report card last month as the annual ranking of elementary schools was made public.
Published each year by the Fraser Institute, the report card ranks elementary schools by academic performance and provides data over a five year period for comparison. For 2012, of the 2,714 elementary schools ranked, 167 showed significant improvements spanning all regions of the province.
“This is why the Fraser Institute school report card is the go-to source for measuring academic improvement: it highlights school success stories from Murillo in the west to Cornwall in the east and from Timmins in the north to Windsor in the south,” said Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies. “Our report shows that all schools are capable of improvement, regardless of the personal or family challenges their students might face. If educators want to help students learn and improve, they should be talking to these schools.”
According to the report, Golden Learning Centre achieved the highest score of the eleven regional schools ranked and also saw the greatest improvement, earning an overall 7.0 out of 10. Between 2008 and 2010 the school achieved between a 6.6 and a 6.1 ranking, however dropped to a 4.2 ranking in 2011.
Red Lake Madsen Public School was also ranked and achieved 4.5 out of 10 for 2012 which is an increase from the last data period in 2010 but below the 2008 and 2009 scores which were 5.8 and 5.0 respectively.
Eight Keewatin-Patricia District School Board schools were included in the ranking, two from the Kenora Catholic District School Board (based in Kenora) and one from the CSDC des Aurores boreales (Thunder Bay). The report says schools that have fewer than 15 students enrolled in the targeted grades were excluded. Schools that did not generate a “sufficiently large set of student data to enable the calculation” were also not published.
Report author Cowley says the research group creates its rankings based on nine academic indicators using data from the annual province-wide tests for reading, writing, and math administered by the Education Quality and Accountability Office. Tests are written by grade three and grade six students each year.
Cowley also says of the 20 Ontario elementary schools showing the fastest academic improvement over the past five years, 10 are public schools where the parental income is below average. At eight of those schools, special needs students account for more than 30 per cent of school enrolment.
“We all want the best possible education for our children. To achieve this, every Ontario school should make improvement job number one,” Cowley said.
The complete results for all elementary schools will also be available at www.compareschoolrankings.org where visitors can compare schools on their results over the last five years.