‘Put in proper perspective’: Hastings-Prince Edward District School Board responds to high school rankings

Trenton High School is one of the lowest ranking schools in Ontario based on literacy and mathematics test results among students. – Emma Persaud photo

A Trenton high school is among the top 100 secondary schools in Ontario, according to the Fraser Institute.

The institute’s Report Card on Ontario’s Secondary School, released on May 23, put Marc-Garneau High School in 87th place out of 689 schools.

The Fraser Institute said these rankings will help parents choose the best possible school for their children, as well as generate concern for those schools falling behind.

“By comparing a school’s results with those of neighbouring schools or schools having similar school and student characteristics,” the report stated. “We can identify more successful schools and learn from them.”

But Hastings Prince Edward District School Board said the use of rankings is ineffective:

“The ranking needs to be put in proper perspective. As presented, the Fraser Institute rankings provide an incomplete and distorted picture of school effectiveness. There is no evidence to show that ranking schools improves student learning. Judgements of school quality should be based on the complete picture of all the programs and features of a school.”

The board also said the practice of ranking schools affects the motivations of teachers and students.

“Ranking also demoralizes teachers and belittles the efforts of students. HPEDSB delivers a curriculum that encourages critical thinking, problem solving, academic excellence and citizenship.”

The ranking looks at eight different areas of assessment, ranking them out of 10. These looked at the average at Grade 9 EQAO results, as well as successful completion of secondary school literacy tests by new and previously eligible students in each school, including the differences between male and female student achievement rates.

Marc-Garneau’s overall test success ranking was 7.8 out of 10, an increase to their previous score. Here’s where other local high schools fell:

The school board said this is not enough information to decide the “ranking” of a school.

“EQAO scores, which is what the Fraser Institute rankings are based on, are one piece of the whole picture about a school. EQAO test results provide useful information to improve our learning programs but it’s unfair and misleading to compare schools based only on these scores. EQAO scores are indicators of where students need extra support. Tests are only useful if they are used to improve student learning. Schools can develop literacy and numeracy improvement plans, provide extra resources, and provide parent tips and strategies to help students at home.”

The full report can be found here to see how all of Ontario’s schools performed.

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