North Delta’s Seaquam Secondary. (Grace Kennedy photo)

North Delta’s Seaquam highest ranked public high school in controversial ‘report card’

The Fraser Institute released its annual high school rankings on Tuesday

North Delta high schools are moving up in the province-wide education rankings, according to a report released Tuesday (June 19).

The Fraser Institute, a Vancouver-based think tank, releases annual rankings of the province’s public and independent schools based on provincial exam marks, grade-to-grade transition rates and graduation rates. This year, it examined 254 secondary schools and 946 elementary schools.

Of the high schools, Seaquam Secondary was the highest ranked public school, coming in 20th overall with a rank of 8.4 out of 10. The next best-ranked Delta school was Burnsview, in 48th place. Sands was the lowest ranked Delta high school, coming in 161th.

Of Delta’s elementary schools, ranked in an April 2018 report card, it was the independent ones that topped the list. Delta Christian, added to the rankings for the first time this year, came in 47th, while Sacred Heart came in 67th and Southpointe Academy came in 74th.

This top-heavy ranking for independent schools is one of the consistent criticisms of the Fraser Institute’s report card, which has been said to favour independent schools.

RELATED: Independent schools continue to top Fraser Institute secondary school list

The director of school performance studies at the Fraser Institute, Peter Cowley, anticipated this criticism in the think tank’s press release.

“All too often, we hear excuses that public schools can’t compete with independent schools because of the communities and students that they serve, but that’s just not true—every school can improve and strive to rank higher than the year before,” he said in the release.

The point of the report card, the institute says, is to give parents a comparative measure to see how well their child’s school fares when compared to others in the province. But some don’t believe looking at marks alone is the best way to do that.

The B.C. Teacher’s Federation has consistently opposed the rankings, saying in a tweet Tuesday (June 19) that “students and their hard work deserve better than clickbait” and that talking to staff and other parents is the best way to get a measure of the school.

The Delta School District has also recognized the limits of standardized testing. In an interview with the North Delta Reporter earlier in the year about the province’s Foundation Skills Assessment, used in the elementary school rankings, director of learning services Ted Johnson said that although standardized tests can be an indicator, they don’t show the whole picture.

“For us and I think most districts, it’s knowing the whole student,” he explained. “We look at report card marks, classroom marks, what’s going on. We’ll talk to the teachers who know these kids specifically and what’s going on for them.

“I can’t emphasize enough that while FSAs are an indicator, there are so many indicators we have in schools, in the bricks and mortar that give us a broader picture of who the kid is and how we should be working with those kids.”

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