Airdrie school one of fastest improving: Fraser Institute
George McDougall was named one of the fastest improving high schools in Alberta, according to the Fraser Institute’s Report Card on Alberta’s High Schools 2012.
George McDougall was ranked 54th out of 276 schools with a overall rating of 7.3. Bert Church High School ranked 133 with a rating of 6.2. St. Martin de Porres ranked 77th with a rating of 7.0.
The annual report card, which was published June 15, shows whether schools are improving or declining academically, based on Grade 12 province-wide exam results and grade-to-grade transition rates.
Rocky View Schools’ superintendent Greg Bass said the division doesn’t place much credence on the data.
“We don’t put much stock into it at all,” he said. “We have far more concrete data that we use to track programs.”
Bass said the student tracking data used by Alberta Education is far more valuable than that used by the Fraser Institute.
“(It) tells us whether we are making progress with the same group of students,” said Bass. “It makes a lot more sense (to see) how students are doing over time.”
Twelve area high schools, including Catholic, private and public, were ranked.
The report card displays individual school results for the past five years, showing whether schools have improved or fallen behind over time. It also includes information about each school’s make up, including parents’ average income, the percentage of ESL students, and the percentage of special needs students.
According to the report, 18 of the fastest-improving high schools in Alberta are public schools. Of that total, 10 are below the provincial average in terms of parental incomes.
“Our rankings show that every school is capable of improvement, regardless of the personal and family characteristics of its student population,” said Micheal Thomas, Fraser Institute’s associate director of school performance studies.
The document also points out nearly 19 per cent of provincial exams written in 2011 received a failing grade, the highest failure rate over the past five years.
According to the Fraser Institute, more than 500,000 individual school reports and comparisons on Alberta schools were downloaded from the organization’s website.
“Every year, hundreds of thousands of parents want to know how their local schools are doing academically,” Thomas said.
“This is a very important piece of information, it is about the academic portion of the school. This is the real reason schools exist – to educate our children.
“The goal is to improve education for all students. The report card is really about a parent being able to compare their school to other schools in the province.”
Despite the popularity of the report card, Bass said Rocky View Schools would like to see the measuring device – Alberta Education’s high school diploma exams – revisited.
“We don’t believe (the exams) are a really accurate form of measurement,” he said, adding that last year the board unanimously passed a motion to urge the ministry to look at other kinds of assessments.
“If we are changing the classrooms, we should change how we are assessing knowledge,” said Bass.
“I am very proud of the teachers in our system and the work we do… we are seeing student engagement through the roof, student discipline plummeting, teachers who are engaged. It is a really exciting place to be in our system.”