Nelson’s L.V. Rogers has topped the Fraser Institute’s secondary school rankings in the West Kootenay for the fifth year in a row, placing 118th out of 289 schools and earning a score of 6.3 out of 10.
The only other high schools in the Kootenay Lake district with sufficient enrollment to be included were South Slocan’s Mount Sentinel and Creston’s Princes Charles, which came 238th and 252nd respectively, earning scores of 4.6. and 4.2.
The widely-maligned rankings have earned the ire of superintendent Jeff Jones, who urged parents to ignore them. He said the rankings are misleading and don’t take contextual information into account.
According to Jones, the Foundation Skills Assessment, used to compile the rankings, was never intended as a high-stakes examination regimen.
Some parents instruct their children not to attend on the day of testing or refuse to fill it out. When the Star recently released a story about the elementary school rankings, a number of local principals heaped scorn on the findings.
L.V Rogers principal Tim Huttemann told the Star he agrees with Jones that the rankings are misleading, but said there is some useful data to be gleaned, such as the difference between boys and girls achievement in math and English.
“There are little bits and pieces of the data that we can use to mine a little deeper.”
He noted that many of the top-performing schools were either private or religious institutions.
"Then you look at us, and we have no criteria for admission. We accept everyone here, and I think that's a pretty cool thing."
Huttemann said rather than focusing on the ranking, the administration will continue to focus on their work in student retention while grappling with the effects of student poverty.
"I'm not saying we're poverty-stricken, but some of these stats that have been coming out lately are pretty telling. Families are really struggling around here."
Huttemann said the Fraser Institute could do much more useful work than compile these rankings.
"They tend to average everything together, and that produces a number that doesn't mean anything. But when we look through the data, we see things we can work on. The number, though, is misleading."
L.V. Rogers also scored better than Trail’s J.L. Crowe, Castlegar’s Stanley Humphries, and Nakusp Secondary. The closest competitor was Crowe, which placed 136th.
Huttemann took the opportunity to praise J.L. Crowe, noting they're a very similar institution to L.V. Rogers and offer "some very cool programs." He said creating a spirit of competition between institutions doesn't make sense, and the rankings have no real value.
“I like to think we offer our students a lot more than a number,” said Huttemann.