An anomaly: St. Michael's Choir School, a semi-private boys school in Toronto's downtown core, is the number one school in the province. Only a handful of Toronto high schools enhanced student performance. The majority scored below the provincial average.

Toronto high schools falling behind in province-wide ranking

But Fraser Institute annual report on secondary schools raises more questions than answers

Only 12 Toronto high schools improved their scores from recent years, according to the Fraser Institute’s Report Card on Ontario’s Secondary Schools.The average rating for the city’s schools is 5.5, in contrast with the provincial average of 6.0.

However, TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird says the ranking is not a well-rounded assessment of student performance.

“Test scores are just one piece of the whole process about a school,” Bird says. “It is really not indicative of anything but a standardized test for which there may be a number of reasons behind.”

The ranking uses test scores from the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) and the Grade Nine Assessment of Mathematics to give schools a score out of 10. Out of 676 high schools, Toronto’s St. Michael’s Choir School was ranked number one with a score of 9.7. Coming in at 10th place is Ursula Franklin Academy with a score of 9. Bloor Collegiate Institute scored 8.9 out of 10 and made it in the top 20. The good news stops there.

The ranking also puts scores against the provincial average. Even if a school raises its average from previous years, they are not classified as showing improvement if they do not go above the  provincial average.

The Fraser Institute considers students with special needs, parent income and students who are English language learners. Gary Wheeler, spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Education says that other factors like instructional leadership, school climate, school safety and the individualized assessment done by teachers must also be analyzed. He says that putting schools and school boards against each other is counter-productive.

“The purpose of these large scale provincial assessments is to improve student learning not rank schools,” Wheeler says.

Many real estate brokers include Fraser Institute’s ratings when marketing properties.

“If parents are looking at entering a school I would encourage them to go to the school,” Bird says. “Talk to the staff, talk to the principal there, talk to the parents and really get to know the school beyond just one number.”