Chilliwack schools left off Fraser Institute report card

Four Chilliwack schools were left off the Fraser Institute report because they didn’t have a large enough student sample size to draw from.

Four elementary schools in Chilliwack didn’t make the grade for the Fraser Institute rankings.

In fact, they didn’t make any grade at all.

The annual elementary school report card, showing which schools in the province have improved or fallen behind in terms of reading, writing and mathematics over the past five years was released Monday.

However, Bernard elementary, Cultus Lake elementary, McCammon traditional and Robertson elementary were omitted from the report because they didn’t have a large enough student sample size to draw from.

The Fraser Institute requires data from a minimum of 15 students in one school.

“The only way a school is not included is if the Ministry of Education provides us with less data than our minimum requirement,” said Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies. “If we’ve got 15 student writers in each of the Grade 4 and 7 tests, that gives us a total of 90 tests upon which to base a rating for the school, and that’s a reasonable number. But if for some reason 15 kids wrote the reading in Grade 4, and 15 wrote the writing in Grade 4, but only 14 wrote the math, that school would not appear.”

The Fraser Institute rankings are based on the annual province-wide Foundation Skills Assessment tests of academic skills in reading comprehension, writing and numeracy in grades 4 and 7.

The report card ranks both private and public schools together.

In Chilliwack, the top schools ranked this year were Mt. Cheam Christian school and John Calvin Christian school, both tied at 33 out of 860 other schools. The top public school ranked was East Chilliwack elementary at 102. And the lowest ranked school was Central elementary at 787.

The rankings have long been controversial.

On the one side, the provincial government has promoted the FSAs as being a valuable tool in providing a snapshot of how students are doing across the province. And the Fraser Institute has boasted that its report card is the only objective, reliable tool for parents to compare the academic performance of their child’s school to other schools in their community.

However, several teachers and some parents argue the rankings are more harmful than useful.

Katharin Midzain, president of the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association, said FSA results don’t show the entire culture of the school.

“A school is more than a test score,” said Midzain. “You can’t objectify and quantify what goes on in a school with a test. It’s comparing apples to oranges.

“The [Fraser Institute rankings] are not credible. They do not in any way reflect what a school is about. You can’t compare schools.”

Chilliwack school district superintendent Michael Audet did not return calls to The Progress before press deadline.

The full report card is available at http://britishcolumbia.compareschoolrankings.org/ChooseReport.aspx

kbartel@theprogress.com

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