Schools in Woolwich and Wellesley received mixed results in the Fraser Institute’s recently-released report on elementary schools.
The right-wing think-tank ranks Ontario’s elementary schools based on results from the Education, Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) Grade 3 and 6 tests. The report is controversial with educators, who say ranking schools against each other isn’t helpful.
Diane DeCoene, superintendant of education for the Waterloo Region District School Board, said the rankings are based on faulty assumptions and inaccurate representations of data, and parents should look at more complete information included in the full EQAO results.
“There’s no evidence to show that because you rank a school, it improves student learning or school effectiveness.”
In Woolwich and Wellesley townships, St. Jacobs Public School and St. Clement Catholic School received the highest ratings, with 7.7 and 7.4 out of 10 respectively. St. Jacobs was ranked 438 out of 2,742 schools, while St. Clement was ranked 573.
Conestogo (6.7) and Breslau (6.6) public schools also finished in the top half of the list, while St. Teresa was in the middle of the pack with a rating of 6.2 – an improvement over last year, but still below the high of 8.2 achieved in 2005.
At the lower end of the list, Floradale Public School was given 5.2, and Linwood held steady with a rating of 5.1. Linwood has the highest percentage of ESL students in the area, with 53 per cent reporting English as their second language.
Wellesley Public School finished in the bottom quarter of the list with a ranking of 4.2 out of 10.
The report covered only about two-thirds of the 4,026 elementary schools in Ontario as of 2007-08. Schools with fewer than 15 students enrolled in each grade were excluded, as were junior and senior elementary schools like John Mahood, Riverside, and Park Manor. Private schools are not required to administer the EQAO tests.
The report card also compared the school’s performance with the performance expected based on parental average income, drawn from Statistics Canada’s most recent census data. With an average parental income of $42,300, St. Clement performed better than expected, while Conestogo PS didn’t do as well as expected based on an average parental income of $209,700.
On average, schools with higher parental income had a higher overall rating. However, the report’s authors acknowledge that less than 25 per cent of variation among schools is associated with the level of parental income.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario used the Fraser Institute’s report as ammunition in calling for the end of EQAO testing, calling it a misuse of data that leads to schools and teachers being stigmatized because of test results.
“EQAO test scores are a very narrow indicator that in no way confirms the effectiveness of our schools or gives parents a true picture of their children’s progress,” said Sam Hammond, president of the ETFO, in a release.