Trail’s St. Michael’s and Rossland’s MacLean get top marks in local elementary rankings

Average mark for all School District 20 schools matches provincial level

Talk about your swan song.

Rossland’s MacLean Elementary School is going out on top after the Fraser Institute has given the Golden City school high marks in its latest Report Card on B.C. Elementary Schools.

Using data gleaned from reading, writing and numeracy tests from grades 4 and 7 from across the province, the Institute rated MacLean Elementary School at 193rd (out of 853 elementary schools), the second best school in the area behind St. Michael’s Catholic School in Trail.

Although the Rossland school was found to have the highest rating in School District 20 (Kootenay Columbia), MacLean is now slated for closure and 10 grades—kindergarten to Grade 9—moved to Rossland Secondary School (RSS) after the school board voted last week to close the facility.

School officials at MacLean declined to comment on the report card’s findings.

A member of the group fighting to keep kindergarten to Grade 12 in Rossland, Rossland-based Neighbourhoods of Learning committee, said the city’s children will do well academically in whatever new configuration they will find themselves in next year.

Shelley Ackerman said it was ironic in a way the district was closing its most successful school based on a financial consideration.

“We have quality schools and we want to keep them,” she said, alluding to the struggle to keep three secondary grades in the city.

MacLean’s 7.3 out of 10 ranking was down from 2011 when the school was given an 8.2 (177th). However, it was up from the 5.6 rating it received in 2009. The gender gap pendulum at MacLean has swung in favour of the boys, with boys scoring higher on numeracy and especially reading, whereas four years ago girls had the edge.

St. Michael’s 8.1 rating was higher than 2011’s 6.9 (111th), but down from its high of 8.6 in 2009. The gender gap was nearly nullified in reading and numeracy at the school, with a slight edge going to the girls in both areas.

Over at James Webster Elementary in Warfield, the school was ranked at 193rd out of 853 with a 7.3 rating out of 10.

The school was up from a low four years ago of 3.9, but down from 2011 when it was 7.9 (252nd). Boys held a slight margin in the gender gap in reading, a wider margin in numeracy.

Glenmerry Elementary dropped in the rankings with a 5.8 rating this year, down from 6.6 last year (295th). There was no gender gap between boys and girls on reading and numeracy.

Fruitvale Elementary School scored the lowest out of the SD20 elementary schools with a 5.0 (597th), a drop from the 6.0 (433rd) the school scored last year. In the gender gap, boys scored higher in both reading and numeracy.

The report’s co-author, Peter Cowley, said the average for all of the Kootenay Columbia schools—public and private—was almost exactly the average for the province, 6.0 while seven schools in region were 6.01.

“None of them showed any change in a statistically significant way,” he said.

St. Micheal’s was, on average, 7.7 over the five-year period, MacLean was 7.1 over the period, James Webster at 6.6, Glenmerry 6.3 and Fruitvale, 5.5.

The averages give parents a look at where they would want their children to go to school, or petition their school for improvement.

“I think a parent has every right to ask if there is an improvement program in place to ensure the kids actually acquire the skills in reading, writing and math at a higher level,” Cowley said.

And the report card prompts parents to ask if there is anything they can do to help their children acquire the highest level of academic skills.

The foundation of the Report Card is an overall rating of each school’s academic performance on 10 indicators, including Grade 4 and Grade 7 reading, writing and numeracy, as well as the difference between male and female students in their average FSA scores in Grade 7 reading and numeracy.

The rating also took into account the percentage of tests written by the school’s students that were judged to reflect performance below expectations, and the percentage of the tests that could have been written by students who were absent, exempted from writing the test or, for any other reason, did not provide a meaningful response to the test.

“We have selected this set of indicators because they provide systematic insight into a school’s performance,” the report read.

Because the numbers are based on annually generated data, each school’s performance—improvement or deterioration—can be charted over time.

For each school, this indicator measures the extent to which the school’s students fail to meet the expected standard of performance on the FSA tests.

It was derived by dividing the total number of all the tests in reading, writing and numeracy that were assigned the lowest achievement level—not yet meeting expectations—by the total number of such tests that were assigned any of the three achievement levels: not yet meeting expectations, meeting expectations, and exceeding expectations.

“Since reading, writing, and mathematics are critical to students’ further intellectual and personal

development, students should, at the minimum, be able to demonstrate that they meet the expected level of achievement for their grade in these subject areas,” the report read.

Last year Rossland Secondary School was rated at the top of the high school heap in SD20 at 46th (out of 280 B.C. high schools), well ahead of Trail’s J.L Crowe and Castlegar’s Stanley Humphries both at 108th.

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