THUNDER BAY – If your child is attending St. Francis Catholic Elementary School in Thunder Bay, according to a report by the Fraser Institute, your child is in the best elementary school in the city. Since 2006, the school’s ranking has continued to climb. In 2006, it was ranked at 6.0 in the study, and today it is ranked at 9.0 out of 10.
At the other end of the scale in the city, according to the Fraser Institute report, is Vance Chapman Public School. That school is ranked at 2689th out of the 2733 schools in the survey. Vance Chapman has fallen in the ranking over the past three years. Currently the school is rated at 1.7 out of 10.
Anyone can easily track and compare the academic performance of Ontario elementary schools over the past five years using the school rankings released today by the Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank.
“Our report card answers this very important question: How does a school rank academically, compared with other schools across Ontario?” said Michael Thomas, Fraser Institute associate director of school performance studies and co-author of the Report Card on Ontario’s Elementary Schools 2011.
“The report card is much more than a ‘snapshot’ of a school’s performance in a single year. It shows school results for the past five years, indicating whether a school has improved or declined over time. Call it a ‘motion picture’ every parent and educator needs to see.”
One important “motion picture” the report card shows is a reduction in the percentage of exams scoring below the provincial standard over the past five years, dropping to 30.1 per cent in 2010 from 33.0 per cent in 2006.
“This is good news and Ontario schools should be proud,” Thomas said.
“But more work must be done, and our report card makes it easy for anybody to identify which schools most need to improve, and in which academic areas.”
Individual school results may be viewed at www.compareschoolrankings.org, a free-to-use, interactive website where anyone can quickly and easily compare 2,733 Ontario elementary schools on nine key indicators of academic performance derived from the results of provincewide testing.
The website allows users to compare up to five schools at once based on exam results in multiple subject areas, percentage of exams below standard, and each school’s overall rating. The website generates easy-to-understand graphs that users may download.
Adding context to the rankings, the website also displays the average parental income at each school and the percentage of ESL and special needs students enrolled.
“Only on www.compareschoolrankings.org can parents quickly determine how the schools in their community are doing, and which of them are improving or declining academically,” Thomas said.
“Many parents moving from one city to another find the Fraser Institute report card indispensable; it provides them with insight into a school’s academic history and the demographic make-up of a school’s population.”
Thomas says that one purpose of the report card is to put the spotlight on schools that have improved, and encourage them to share their recipe for success.
“When the students at two schools share similar personal and family characteristics but have large differences in their exam results, that’s a red flag that parents and educators can’t ignore,” Thomas said.
“All schools are responsible for ensuring that their students acquire the skills and knowledge they need, without falling behind. The Fraser Institute’s report card is the only source for critical, contextual information about the performance of Ontario schools year to year—information every parent needs to know.”