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Parksville high school sits near bottom of Fraser Institute's rankings

The Fraser Institute's latest report card on schools is out, and local high schools didn't fare well.

The report looked at 293 secondary schools in the province. Kwalikum Secondary School placed 204th, Ballenas Secondary School 266th.

Mount Arrowsmith Teachers' Association president Debbie Morran said she doesn't give the report card much credence. She said the same when the Fraser Institute released its report card on elementary schools earlier this year, rankings based mostly on the results of provincially-mandated Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) tests taken by students in grades 4 and 7. The only other time B.C. students write FSA exams is in Grade 10.

"I think it's even more difficult to lend any weight to the (high school) standings when it's only Grade 10 students writing (the FSA tests)," said Morran.

However, the Fraser Institute says it bases its high-school rankings on provincial exams — not the Grade 10 FSAs —  which are written by all students in grades 10, 11 and 12. The institute's report card lists what it says is "average exam marks" for students. At Kwalikum in 2013 that was 68 per cent, while at Ballenas it was 66.3 per cent. The institute's ratings system (out of 10) had Kwalikum at 5.2 and Ballenas at 3.7.

Kwalikum had 130 Grade 12 students in 2013. Only 0.7 per cent of those students were classified as English as a Second Language (ESL) students and 10.4 per cent were special needs. Ballenas had 182 Grade 12 students in 2013, 0.9 per cent ESL and 12.7 per cent special needs.

Ballenas also had 12.7 per cent of its students classified as French Immersion students.

The Fraser Institute describes itself as an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of 86 think-tanks. It says its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals.

The local teachers’ association president was asked if there was any system, any kind of check and balance, that taxpayers could rely on if they wanted some kind of tax-dollar-for-service evaluation.

“That’s why they elect a board of trustees,” said Morran. “That is their role. They are the guardians of that tax dollar.”

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