Controversial school ranking gives Rossland’s MacLean top marks

The Fraser Institute’s annual report card on elementary school performance isn’t holding much ink locally, according to the teachers’ union.

The Fraser Institute’s controversial annual report card on elementary school performance isn’t holding much ink locally, according to the teachers’ union.

The results from this year’s Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) tests were released this week, placing MacLean Elementary School at the top of School District 20 with Robson Elementary taking the lowest rating out of the seven public and one private schools ranked.

Andy Davidoff, president of the Kootenay Columbia Teachers Union, would like the province to move more toward random assessment.

“I think Alberta is moving in the right direction by scrapping the test and the reason they’re doing that is because of the rankings,” he said. “Alberta has decided to work with teachers on development and assessment that builds trust in the process and teachers in B.C. have always said that there is no problem with random assessment to see how kids are doing, we’ve never opposed that.”

The annual report card rates public and independent elementary schools on 10 key indicators.

MacLean in Rossland placed 97th out of the 860 schools included in the rankings, which are based on last year’s FSA tests taken by B.C. students in Grade 4.

In Greater Trail, Fruitvale Elementary took home the lowest ranking, coming in at 416th, but principal Brian Stefani said the “snapshot” provided doesn’t accurately reflect the quality of a school.

“In all honesty, I don’t look at those results as in depth as the media does, the media blows them way out of proportion,” he said. “I don’t mind the test, it’s a good snapshot but you just have to take them for what they are, one exam.”

Stefani would like the think tank to go back to the basics and only show academic results, rather than rankings determined also by considering a formula that calculates information like parents’ average income.

“For us at this school, the rankings mean nothing,” he said. “It’s the day to day results that the teachers give us that count.”

The Fraser Institute report card uses last year’s FSA results and provides an overall five-year ranking. As well, the rankings consider average parental income, the percentage of students in ESL programs, in French immersion or with special needs.

Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies, said the report is the only province-wide data that helps parents monitor the performance of their child’s school and help educators identify key areas for improvement in their classrooms.

“Our report card is the only objective, reliable tool that parents have to compare the academic performance of their child’s school over time and to that of other schools in their community,” he said in a news release.

The FSA also is tested at the Grade 7 level, with figures released at another time.

Rossland Secondary School principal Terry McDonnell said the results are handed out to teachers, who can take the numbers for what they are.

“There’s a whole bunch of different things that make up this thing called school and I just can’t say that FSA is necessarily a reflection of that,” he said. “It’s a piece of it.”