The Fraser Institute’s annual report card on B.C. elementary schools ranks schools across the province based on standardized tests. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Fraser Institute’s annual report card on B.C. elementary schools ranks schools across the province based on standardized tests. (Black Press Media file photo)

Opinion: Fraser Institute delivers elementary schools the usual mixed report card

What we learn doesn’t change, but maybe how we react to it should

The province’s elementary schools have just been handed their report cards, and, as usual, the results are what you want to make of them.

The annual report from the Fraser Institute compares test scores from 931 public and private elementary schools across B.C., allowing parents to see how their child’s school is doing.

Each school receives a colour-coded grade out of 10 – where pink is 0.0 to 4.0, orange is 4.1 to 5.9, yellow is 6.0 to 7.5 and green is 7.6 to 10 – based on its students’ reading, writing and numeracy test scores.

This year, Sooke School District has three pink schools and five orange schools, placing all of them in the bottom half of results across the province. The district’s top performer is Hans Helgesen with a 5.8. Its bottom performer is Colwood with a 3.0.

Saanich School District fared better with four orange and four yellow schools. Cordova Bay has the top score with a 7.3, while Kelset sits at the bottom with a 5.2.

With 34 of Greater Victoria’s 50 elementary schools, the Greater Victoria School District captured both the region’s highest and lowest scores. In total, SD61 has four pink, 13 orange, nine yellow and eight green schools. The top ranking school is Selkirk Montessori with a near-perfect 9.9. Oaklands and South Park are tied for the district’s lowest scores with 2.7 each.

Across Greater Victoria, all eight of the green scores are for private schools. The only private school to not receive a green score is Pacific Christian, which just missed the mark with a 7.5.

A similar gap between public and private schools can usually be measured up the Island.

The Fraser Institute’s report card has been criticized in the past for favouring private schools and only basing rankings off standardized tests. Critics argue that tests favour families with high incomes and put pressure on teachers to only teach certain kinds of knowledge.

The Institute, however, stands by its method.

“We often hear that schools can’t improve because of the communities and students they serve, but the evidence suggests otherwise,” said Peter Cowley, report co-author and senior fellow at the Fraser Institute. He points to Wickaninnish Community School in Tofino which climbed from a 2.3 in 2015 to 7.3 in 2019.

In a letter to the minister of education in September, Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association president, Winona Waldron, called the exam “bad pedagogy” and outdated. She explained that it takes up time that could be spent teaching and by the time the results come in they are outdated and of no use to teachers.

“Low scores for a school result in no additional support or resources for students,” she added.

Maybe, after years of hearing the standard arguments tossed back and forth, it’s time for that to change.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here. Parents who are interested in how their child’s school is doing can go to compareschoolrankings.org. The report allows online users to see how each school has done since 2015 and compare up to six schools at once.


 

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