RSS earns top local marks in rankings

A report card that ranks high schools in the province doesn’t have local teachers hanging up the results on their fridge.

“It’s such a limited and finite data source that they’re using,” said Crowe principal David DeRosa, who added local statistics are more relevant when it comes to planning curriculum and tracking student and grade progress.

The Fraser Institute placed Rossland Secondary School as the top performer for the Kootenay-Columbia region for the 2009/2010 school year.

The Rossland high school took 30th place out of 274 post-secondary schools in B.C. and the Yukon. Meanwhile, the test that’s based on seven key indicators of academic performance ranked J. L. Crowe Secondary School as 87th and Stanley Humphries Secondary as 194th out of the participating public and private schools.

The report card measures a school’s status by looking at areas like the average exam mark, percentage of exams failed and graduation rate.

The recent results are then compared to a five-year average, which indicates whether a school has improved or declined.

According to the results, Crowe has dropped to 87th place from a five-year average of 74, while RSS has jumped up the ranking to 30th from a five-year average of 44th place.

“They’re comparing the socio-economic status of families and expected results on exams – that’s a pretty loose way to rate a school,” said DeRosa.

“I like to use a new one, we had the minister of education here on Friday and he said our school is second to none in B.C.”

While the objective of the Vancouver-based think-tank is to provide objective results, DeRosa said the reality is it’s quite            restricted.

“The participation rates in examinations at the Grade 12 level fluctuate from year to year and even semester to semester, depending if our students are going to post secondary schooling and post secondary job training or directly into the job world,” he said.

While the test does provide some valuable data, School District 20 doesn’t get hung up on the Fraser Institute’s rating, according to the president of the Kootenay Columbia Teacher’s Union.

“The biggest factors driving these results are usually from economically deprived areas,” he said.

“If you take a look at who’s number one, consistently it’s the private schools.

“The big private schools don’t have to accept every student, and many of those students have entry tests.”

The district does look at the results but not as a way of comparing its schools, rather to examine what areas students are strongest and where there needs to be improvement.

“I’d like to think that every teacher would like to know exactly where every student is at before they start working with them,” said Davidoff.

He points to the Fraser Institute’s most recent Foundation Skills Assessment at the elementary level, which gave top marks to a school in the polygamous community of Bountiful.

“How can you have a result like that in a reporting system that has validity? If you ask that rhetorical question it sort of answers a lot and tells you how I feel about this,” he said.

With Monday as a Pro-D day, the Times could not reach RSS’s principal for comment by press time Monday.

For more information on how local schools ranked visit, www.compareschoolrankings.org