What is the School Report Card?
For over 20 years, the Fraser Institute has been publishing an annual school report card of Alberta elementary and high schools. This report card ranks schools in our province using the annual provincial achievement test results. The report card is based on school results from the previous school year. Schools are awarded a score out of 10, to represent the overall provincial rank and it is important to note that this score does not correlate directly to the exam results. For example, a 9 out of 10 report card mark for a school does not mean the student average on the exams was 90%.
How are the rankings determined?
The rankings for this report card are determined using one element - the school’s results on either the Grade 6 achievement tests (PATs) and the Grade 12 diploma exams. For Grade 6 results (Elementary Rankings), the overall rankings are created using the following indicators for each group of students writing the exams:
- the average exam marks (percentage scored) in the subjects of language arts, mathematics, science and social studies
- the percentage of achievement tests where the results were below the acceptable standard (the acceptable standard score is set by Alberta Education)
- the difference between male and female students in their average mark in mathematics
For Grade 12 results (High School Rankings), the overall rankings are created using the following indicators for each group of students writing the exams:
- the average exam marks (percentage scored) in diploma exams
- the percentage of diploma exams failed
- the difference between the school awarded mark and exam mark in each diploma course
- the difference between male and female students in their average value of exams marks in both English and mathematics
- the number of diploma courses taken per student
- diploma completion rate
- delayed advancement rate
Once these are applied to the student results, the schools are assigned a score out of 10 and ranked in order of their results.
What is not considered in the rankings?
Standardized testing results (PATs and Diploma exams) are a snapshot of each particular school’s Grade 6 and 12 students from a given day. Not accounted for in the rankings and report card are the approaches to learning incorporated to achieve the student results and the particulars of each cohort of students writing the exams. In understanding these rankings, it can be noted the metric is a narrow one.
How can the Fraser Rankings help parents choose a school?
Using the school report card, a family can certainly investigate schools and this measure can be one of many considerations to investigate. Viewing the longer term results and trends in the school report card can be helpful in the context of stability of the school programming. Other areas to explore may include:
- School mission, vision and values
- School climate
- Approaches to instruction
- Program offerings
- Student support programs
- Athletics, Experiential learning, Fine Arts,
- Post-Secondary planning
- Global Education
- Religious instruction
- Language instruction
Parents want the best for their children. Reviewing data and metrics, visiting schools to experience the settings and learn about all the school can offer and an understanding of their children’s needs and interests, families can make informed choices. As a parent, you owe it to your children to do your homework before selecting a school for them!