Students mostly indifferent about Fraser Institute rankings
Results of the Fraser Institute’s latest report card on high schools didn’t really register at the city’s lowest-rated facility.
Prince George Secondary School tied for 248th out of 274 high schools in B.C. and the Yukon, while DP Todd claimed the top spot locally with an 87th-place finish.
The rankings, released Sunday, are based on seven factors, including average provincial exam marks and graduation rates. Not that anyone seemed to care Monday.
“I haven’t heard anything at all,” said Jesse Guignard, a Grade 10 student at PGSS, when asked at lunchtime about the report card.
He said it “sort of” bothered him to hear how low his school ranked, and suggested some teachers could do more to pull up kids’ grades.
“Some teachers try really hard, they’re really into the students’ learning and they really want to try, but the majority of them aren’t,” he said.
Guignard’s mom, Tammy, was not alarmed by the report card.
“That’s not good, I guess, when your kid’s going to that school with the lower ranking,” she said, but, “I don’t really follow it.”
She agreed with her son, though, that the rankings mean administrators “definitely have to look at the teachers sometimes.”
As with the Fraser Institute’s other school rankings, teachers were quick to dismiss the results.
“We don’t put any faith in them,” said Matt Pearce, vice-president of the Prince George and District Teachers Association.
Teachers claim this report, like the rest, uses a narrow set of measures that set up private schools to consistently outperform public schools. Indeed, the top nine B.C. high schools in 2009-10 were private institutions. And public schools, teachers say, generally draw students from more diverse backgrounds, who aren’t always prepared for success in the classroom.
However, one of the report card’s authors did point out that B.C.’s high schools improved overall in 2010 on the percentage of provincial exams failed and the delayed advancement rate. The exceptions locally were DP Todd on exam failures and College Heights on delayed advancement.
“Those two things appear to be getting better, and of course that’s a good thing,” said the Fraser Institute’s Peter Cowley. “But, of course, the report card is focused on individual schools and some do better than others on those indicators.”
Cowley added that the report card is merely meant to enlighten educators and parents on schools and their performance over time, and a new companion website – www.compareschoolrankings.org – makes that easier than ever.
“Comparison is good, I think, because it allows parents to make a more reasoned choice with regard to where their kids might go,” he said.
PGSS scored below the provincial average on each of the seven indicators, while the city’s five other high schools each bested at least one of the benchmarks.
Grade 12 PGSS student Justin Foster wasn’t surprised with his school’s placing, and agreed that students’ backgrounds are a factor in the rankings, probably more so at his school than others in the city.
“There’s a lot of kids who actually hate school here,” he said, and “feel like they’re going to fail from get-go, which I see a lot of here.”
He said a school like DP Todd, for example, is known for its athletics, and students there fear being cut from the teams if they don’t keep up their grades.