Toronto's public high schools did not fare well collectively on the latest Fraser Institute report card, but nine of them still made the province's most-improved list.

Toronto schools scored 5.3 points out of 10, below the provincial average of 6, in the latest ranking of Ontario's secondary schools.

Combined with better-performing schools in Halton and York regions, the Greater Toronto Area's overall score was 6.2.

Still, nine out of 20 fastest-improving Ontario high schools are in Toronto, the Fraser Institute noted in its report, released Sunday. The top marks went to St. Michael's Choir School on Bond Street, which scored an impressive 9.6.

Toronto's elementary schools fared better in a separate Fraser Institute report card released last month, ranking just above the provincial average.

Every year, the Conservative think-tank looks at Grades 9 and 10 math and literacy test scores to compare the performances of Ontario's high schools.

The report card rates 718 public, Catholic, and francophone high schools across the province. The standardized tests are administered by the Ontario government's Education Quality and Accountability Office.

In 2011, 26.6 per cent of EQAO test scores were below the provincial standard, compared to just over 30 per cent in 2007.

"This is a solid five-year improvement, but more than one in four of the provincewide tests written by Ontario secondary students still fail to meet the provincial standard. Ontario schools can do better," Michael Thomas, Fraser Institute's associate director of school performance studies, said in a news release.

The not-so-stellar report comes on the heels of the belt-tightening Ontario budget, which calls for school board mergers and closures of "underutilized" schools.

The Fraser Institute's rankings also include key information about each school's demographic and socioeconomic makeup, such as average family income, the percentage of ESL students, and the percentage of special needs students.

According to the report, the parents' average incomes are below the provincial average in 15 of the 20 fastest-improving schools.

At one of those schools, special needs students make up more than half of the population. At another school, 48 per cent of students have learned English as a second language.

The statistics show that "academic excellence is possible in every school, regardless of the personal and family circumstances of its student population," Thomas said.