March 10, 2014
VANCOUVER, B.C.—Students can succeed despite perceived barriers to learning, finds the Fraser Institute’s annual school rankings.The Report Card on B.C.’s Elementary Schools 2014 ranks 982 public and independent elementary schools based on 10 academic indicators using data from the annual Foundation Skills Assessments (FSAs) administered by the B.C. Ministry of Education.According to the Report Card, 45 schools across the province showed improvement over the past five years, including Strawberry Hill, a public school in Surrey. Strawberry Hill posted an overall rating of 3.4 out of 10 in 2009, then improved steadily each year to post a 5.4 in 2013 even though 68.2 per cent of students were in ESL programs.“A school like Strawberry Hill in Surrey counters one of the misconceptions about student performance. It has a high percentage of ESL students, yet it’s improving every year. The Fraser Institute Report Card consistently demonstrates that any school can improve regardless of the challenges students face,” said Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies.At compareschoolrankings.org, parents can measure their school’s performance over the past five years, noting areas of improvement and decline. They can also compare their school with schools across British Columbia.One good benchmark school might be W. D. Ferris, a public school in Richmond, which posted an overall rating of 7.9 out of 10 (and a five-year average of 7.8) despite a 58.2 ESL student percentage.Or Lord Roberts, a public school in downtown Vancouver, which posted an overall rating of 5.5 (up from 3.6 in 2009) even though 35.1 per cent of students were in ESL programs and an above average percentage of students had a special need.What’s going on at W. D. Ferris and Lord Roberts? Educators across B.C. should be eager to find out.“Our website provides parents and educators with objective information that’s hard to find anywhere else. If you’re a parent at a school with a consistently low ranking, or a school with declining results, you should ask the principal about improvement plans and when student performance is expected to improve,” Cowley said.