Little change for Saanich schools in Fraser Institute rankings

The Fraser Institute released its annual ranking of B.C. elementary schools based on the controversial Foundation Skills Assessment.

Students in the province haven’t received report cards this year, but their schools did this week.

The Fraser Institute released its annual ranking of B.C. elementary schools based on the controversial Foundation Skills Assessment, a writing, numeracy and reading comprehension test given to Grade 4 and 7 students.

Of the Saanich schools included in the Fraser Institute’s annual ranking of B.C. elementary schools none have shown statistically significant improvement and just one has seen some decline.

Frank Hobbs elementary received a higher rating this year with a 6.8 out of 10 versus  a 6.7 last year, though the school also saw a downward trend in Grade 4 writing scores.

Torquay elementary was the top rated public school in the municipality with a 7.9 out of 10, placing the school 122nd out of 860 schools included in the report.

Overall, there were 15 fewer schools included compared to last year – the result of fewer students taking the test. In some cases, too little data for some schools made it pointless for the right-wing think tank to provide a statistical analysis.

“There’s always a need for some kind of measurement, but is this the best way of going about it?” asked Greater Victoria Board of Education chair Peg Orcherton. “It’s supposed to measure if we’re meeting our goals in numeracy and literacy – an internal document – not a school ranking.”

Peter Cowley, co-author of the report defends its value as a means of informing parents on overall school performance. The rankings offer what he calls an arm’s length, second opinion on individual student progress.

“If the school’s results are declining, parents can and do become strong advocates for improvement,” Cowley said. “The other thing (educators) can do is pick up the phone and call other similar schools to see what they are doing that is working. This is not rocket science.”

The topic of FSA testing has yet to be discussed at the local level, Orcherton said.

“When parents are deciding which school to take their kids to, I tell them to visit to school, don’t rely on what you read,” Orcherton said. “Some parents rely on that, unfortunately.”

Within Saanich, private schools St. Margaret’s and St. Michaels University School were both rated 10 out of 10, tied among the No. 1 schools in the province.

nnorth@saanichnews.com