Annual elementary school rankings released
An empty school classroom is pictured. (AP Photo/Dinesh Ramde)
Published Sunday, February 17, 2013 8:45AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 17, 2013 12:11PM EST
Where you go to school can have a big impact on the quality of education you receive, a new report on the province’s elementary schools finds.
The Fraser Institute Elementary School Report Card for 2013 suggests that provincial test results vary widely by school, even when external factors such as family income and the gender ratio of students is taken into account.
The report, which was released Sunday morning, ranked 2,714 public, Catholic and francophone elementary schools on the basis of provincial test scores in reading, writing and math in Grades 3 and 6.
The report found that in some schools more than 70 per cent of students tested below the provincial average while at the top schools less than five per cent did.
The number one ranked school was Hillmount Public School near McNicoll Avenue and Don Mills Road, where just 0.8 per cent of students tested below the provincial average.
“Even when we take into account factors such as the students’ family background—which some believe dictate the degree of academic success that students can enjoy in school—some schools do better than others. This finding confirms the results of research carried out in other countries,” the report states. “Indeed, it will come as no great surprise to experienced parents and educators that the data consistently suggest that what goes on in the schools makes a difference to academic results and that some schools make a greater difference than others.”
Schools within the Toronto District School Board were given an average grade of 6.4 out of 10 in the rankings while schools within the York Region District School Board recieved an average grade of 7.2, which put that school board amongst the highest scoring boards in the province. Schools in Durham, Peel and Halton regions scored an average of 5.8, 6.3 and 6.8 respectively.
On average 28.4 per cent of provincial test results studied for the purpose of the rankings were below the provincial average, suggesting that Ontario schools still have a ways to go.
The report urged those schools with low or deteriorating test results to use the data as an "opportunity for improvement,” but at least one school board official says the data doesn’t paint a full picture and is of limited use to schools and parents alike.
“To rank the schools in this way gives a false image of our education system. It tends to encourage parents to withdraw their kids from schools that are low and try to enroll them in schools that are high and it can skew the results,” Toronto District School Board Trustee Howard Kaplan told CP24 Sunday morning.
The Fraser Institute report is based on data from the Education Quality and Accountability Office tests given to students across the province each year.
Speaking with CP24, Kaplan said the data was not intended to be used to rank schools.
“The standardized testing was never meant to be used to rank schools and if you look at it on a school-by-school basis it is not entirely accurate,” he said. “Just a few gifted children in Grade 3 or Grade 6 can skew the results up or a few kids with learning disabilities could skew the results down.
Some schools making big strides
In addition to providing an overall ranking of schools, the report also provided a list of the 20 fastest improving schools in the province.
That list included six Toronto schools, including number one ranked Stella Maris Catholic School and number two ranked Heron Park Junior Public School.
"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,” Fraser Institute Director of School Performance Studies Peter Cowley said in a press release. “"By pinpointing the subject areas in which individual schools are improving or declining and how their academic performance compares to that of other Ontario schools over the past five years, our report helps parents and educators prioritize learning challenges in their schools.”
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