The Fraser Institute has released its report card on Alberta high schools’ academic performance, creating some controversy provincially, while reaction of local school officials has a common theme of “not really relevant.”
Alberta Deputy Premier and former education minister Thomas Lukaszuk calls the report misleading and a misuse of provincial test results.
Lukaszuk favours redesigning province-wide tests so they can no longer be used to produce reports. The Fraser Institute contends its performance reports are valid and “used by many thousands of thoughtful parents each year.”
“Its measurements are so restricted,” Clearview Public Schools superintendent John Bailey said of the Fraser Insitute report, which is based primarily on test marks.
“We believe in opportunities for students and having the most doors open for them.”
Bailey said that while he looks at the report for information purposes, it’s only one factor and he “values the opinion of students and parents far more than the Fraser Institute results.”
“People who have won the Clearview Award of Merit (acknowledging national and international success) have always credited Clearview Public Schools as a factor in their success,” he said.
Bailey also pointed out some private schools have enrolment requirements for entry marks above 80 per cent before acceptance into the school, so naturally they would score better on the report.
William E. Hay Composite High School in Stettler was ranked 203 out of 276 by the Fraser Institute, a drop from the previous ranking of 151 among 243 schools.
“The scope of the report is so narrow, it skews the provincial result,” said William E. Hay principal Norbert Baharally.
“Regardless of what the report says, I know there are a lot of good things happening at this school. Our high school completion rate is 10 per cent above the provincial average. We give students hope and opportunity to complete their education. We don’t close doors.
“Our High School Flexibility Enhancement pilot project has other schools coming here to look at us as a model. We have been invited to Washington, D.C., in February 2013 to share information on this project.”
In Castor, at Gus Wetter School, the Fraser Institute ranked the high school 133 out of 276, higher than its previous ranking of 198 out of 243.
The Fraser Institute report is something principal Daram Van Oers said he “does not bother to read.”
“I put little value in the report. It does not encapsulate the quality of schools in Alberta. It is ridiculous.”
It’s not the report, but the way the report is used, that concerns Van Oers the most.
“We have that information and a lot more besides,” Van Oers said.
“The ‘No Zero Policy’ implemented by many Edmonton public schools is of far more interest than the Fraser Institute report,” Van Oers said.
The Fraser Institute ranked the Bashaw high school 253 out of 276, lower than the 202 among 243 schools ranking it last received.
“The report is based only on one indicator, while different criteria are also important,” said Bashaw School vice-principal Craig Dimond.
“We prefer to use our own results, here at the school. It gives us a snapshot of how we are doing within the school division.”
Bashaw School belongs to the Battle River School Division.