Opinion

Standardized testing - why a low ranking school could still be the best for your child

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

The institute rated 853 public and independent schools based on a number of academic indicators using data from the annual Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA), which measures reading, writing and numeracy skills tested at both the Grade 4 and Grade 7 level.

The BC Teachers’ Federation and many educators argue the rankings don’t say anything valuable about what’s really going on in the classroom and with children’s performance.

That’s not to say schools that do really well in the tests, such as Frank J. Mitchell in Sparwood don’t deserve praise.

But it would certainly be a shame if teachers in other schools that haven’t fared so well, become disheartened by their lower ranking. Or if the school starts to gain a bad reputation, based solely on this right-wing institute’s findings.

Regardless of how worthy the stats are, parents can still learn something from the annual rankings — that schools where parents are engaged do better than those where parents aren’t as engaged because of poverty, culture, isolation or other issues.

Thus, parents can ensure their children’s and school’s success, no matter where they are, by staying involved.

Consider if the school is a good fit for your child. Is he or she happy, improving and enjoying learning? A child who is all of these things but attending a lower ranking school is bound to do much better than a child who hates attending their top ranking school.

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. But as parents, you should be the ones who judge whether the school your child is attending is “good” based on your own child’s needs.

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