Some value in rankings

Kamloops Daily News
March 6, 2013 01:00 AM

The Fraser Institute's B.C. school rankings have long been controversial and this year's report is no different.

As in past years, teachers and school administrators decried the results as meaningless, questioning the think-tank's failure to account for the different socioeconomic conditions or backgrounds of various schools.

"We take what we can learn from it, but I think the comparison itself is not helpful," said Sullivan. "In fact, I think it's destructive and harmful.

"I don't think it does anything for the morale of people who are working in poor communities who are committed 100 per cent to the children in their schools and work very, very hard to ensure that children achieve."

Of course, there is one comparison in the results perhaps more meaningful - direct comparison of the same school across time. How does one elementary's standings this year, for example, compare to its last year or the past five? Such a comparison could give useful insights into what is happening inside school walls. It might not be fair to compare private schools to public schools, or schools in rich neighbourhoods against those in poorer ones, but certainly it is fair to compare schools against their own records of achievement.

The fact is, the Fraser Institute continues to use the results of B.C.'s Foundation Skills Assessments to produce its annual report because there is interest in the numbers. Fair or not, the public is hungry for information and wants to know someone is holding our school system to account.

Our students are graded but there is little from the system that tells parents those who teach our kids are also being evaluated.

What happens in our schools each day is largely invisible to parents. The Fraser Institute's report, as limited as it might be, gives us at least a glimpse.

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