In the Fraser Institute School Rankings, released last week, Scarborough secondary schools averaged a score of about 5.3 out of 10. Though some schools in the area were rated poorly, the Institute says the study isn’t meant to be a comprehensive indication of a school’s success.
Some Scarborough principals agree that it doesn’t serve as a representation of how well their school is doing.
“The scope of how they rank is so limited that I don’t think it’s accurate,” says Paul Ambrose, principal at Sir Wilfred Laurier, which received a score of 5.1. “To rank schools no matter where they are, using the same measurement … I don’t believe that’s fair. How can you make those determinations using a two-variable formula?”
The Institute looks exclusively at EQAO grade nine math test results, along with pass rates of the OSSLT (Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test). But, these two things may not paint a fair representation of a school as a whole, say educators.
“It’s a real issue as far as I’m concerned, because EQAO testing is not a real judgment of whether the kids are achieving the provincial standards,” says Jerry Chadwick, the school trustee for Ward 22 Scarborough East.
He suggests that the Institute take into account things like graduation rates and factors that are school-specific, like the prevalence of ESL or special needs students.
Michael Thomas from the Fraser Institute says that data isn’t available for the Ontario rankings.
“In other provinces we have more information,” he says. “In B.C. and Alberta, for example, we have other important indicators such as graduation rate [and] credit completion rate.”
These indicators may have been beneficial to Scarborough’s Robert L. Borden Business and Technical Institute, which scored 0 this year and ranked 710 out of 718 schools in the province. Chadwick says because Borden’s programming differs from a regular collegiate, it is not appropriate to compare it to other high schools.
Borden’s principal, Anthony Hack, says because his school doesn’t offer any academic-level programming, the population of students writing the EQAO test is not the same as in other schools. He admits that the results for his school, though they have been consistent, may be skewed.
“They need to make sure when they’re laying out the results that it’s clearly communicated what their assessment tools are and how not all schools serve the same demographic population,” he says.
According to Thomas, the Institute tries to make it clear to parents that the ratings are not an absolute.
“It’s not the whole picture,” he says. “We wouldn’t want someone to take our rating for the school and think that it’s an over-arching complete judgment of the school. It’s not.”