Are Fraser Institute School Rankings Reliable?
Guest post contributed by Melissa Hyndes (former School Trustee and Board Chair of Coquitlam School District 43)
It is disturbing to continually hear from new immigrants and International families that they have been referred to the Fraser Institute rankings of schools to help pick where they live and their children are educated. Unfortunately, these rankings are being used for advising newcomers to Canada, and I would like to give a warning that these rankings are skewed and unreliable.
The Fraser Institute use of data for School rankings is partially based on test results from a Foundation Skills Assessment; a test mandated by the Provincial Government. These tests are given to students of Grades 4 and 7, and evaluate Literacy and Numeracy at each of the grade levels. The Government says the tests are just one tool and an assessment (a snapshot) of the achievement levels in the province. The Government makes the test results public, and with these in hand, the Fraser Institute adds criteria of their own before it publishes their skewed rankings of the schools in BC.
One big question is: Should Public Education Exam scores for individual schools be listed and ranked publicly by a private institution? By making the exams public the Government perpetuates the misuse of inaccurate and skewed rankings. How does this help improve schools?
Educators, Public Education Stakeholders, and many others. believe that this is wrong, misleading, and that it should be stopped. These tests are highly controversial and highly contested by the BC Teachers Federation. The Federation claims test results are an inaccurate snapshot and that on any given day the scores could be skewed and therefore not a reliable assessment at all.
Whereas the government encourages students to write the exams, the Federation encourages parents to opt out and not allow their children to take the exam. More and more parents are opting out of the exams for a variety of reasons, so school results do not actually reflect a true picture of the achievement of that school.
So what does this mean for a new home buyer and new student to the Tri-Cities? By using these inaccurate rankings you may very well be making a bad decision based on misleading neighborhood rankings and school information.
Every public School in British Columbia provides the same curriculum and is ranked in the top 5 in the world for Education. There is a reason for that and it is because of the high standards we expect from our Education Leaders. Our School District 43 Coquitlam has the 2nd highest achievement rates in the province (second to West Vancouver).
There are no bad schools in this district. They all have excellent teachers and Educational leaders. Each one of our Secondary schools receives high levels of Scholarships and provides excellent learning opportunities for every learner. Some may have minor differences such as a more defined Fine Arts and Music program, or Technology driven, or more sports oriented, but all do an excellent job with core curriculum.
International newcomers should look at a school and what it will offer their students and then make decisions on what is a good fit based on the interests of the child, and not on a ranking constructed by a private institution that ranks schools with inaccurate findings and based on ideological assumptions.