The controversial annual report by the Fraser Institute is out with its rankings of several schools in the Kootenay Lake school district along with their provincial counterparts.
The Report Card on B.C.’s Elementary Schools 2013 rates 853 public and independent elementary schools based on 10 academic indicators using data from the annual Foundation Skills Assessments (FSA) administered for the B.C. Ministry of Education.
“By pinpointing the subject areas in which individual schools are improving or declining and how their academic performance compares to that of other BC schools over the past five years, our report helps educators prioritize learning challenges in their schools,” says Peter Cowley, director of school performance studies at the Fraser Institute.
Kootenay Lake School District superintendent Jeff Jones explains the FSA exams, designed by teachers, help educators see trends. The district does an analysis of each test item to see how they can respond to student needs.
“There is important information available to us in the FSA results, and when used in concert with other important sources of data provides a bigger picture for us as we plan for student success,” he says.
However, Jones says they recognize the assessments parachute into the classroom and are not connected to the content of that class at that time.
“They provide an important snapshot — but the photo album of student achievement includes a number of other assessments by teachers on a daily basis,” he says.
Nelson’s Hume Elementary School scored 6.1 out of 10 while ranking 385 out of 853 schools. Brent Kennedy in Crescent Valley ranked 703 out of 853 and scored 4.3 out of 10.
Jones says these rankings are flawed for a number of reasons, most notably because they use limited data.
“I believe it is a ridiculous exercise to attempt to rank schools, when we recognize that the context from school to school differs, and shifts from year to year,” he says.
Other Kootenay Lake schools in the district either had no students writing the FSA, or the results had to be masked due to a small population where individual children could be more easily identified through the data.
The report card also includes important information about each school’s make-up, including parents’ average income, the percentage of ESL students, and the percentage of special-needs students.
The complete results for schools is also be available at compareschoolrankings.org where visitors can compare individual schools with others based on their results over the last five years.