Two elementary schools in the Terrace area got a passing grade this year, according to the latest report card from the Fraser Institute.
The report card ranks and compares 955 public and private elementary schools in B.C. and scores them based on the provincial Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) test scores on reading, writing and numeracy. These overall ratings also take into account test scores, gender gaps and percentage of tests failed or not written.
In the Terrace area, Veritas Catholic School received the highest score of 8.4 out of 10, followed by École Mountainview at 6.1, up from 4.9 in 2017. This is the first time in five years that École Mountainview surpassed the provincial average.
The elementary school also saw noteworthy improvements in Grade 4 average scores in writing, fewer students performing below expectations, and more students taking the standardized FSA tests.
All four other elementary schools did not pass the 6.0 B.C. average score, but some did make strides in other areas.
Uplands Elementary was scored 5.3, down from 6.5 last year, Suwilaawks was at 4.5, up from 2.7, Thornhill was scored at 3.5 from 4.1., and Cassie Hall Elementary with a 0.9 score, down from 1.2 last year.
“[Terrace] has a really broad range. Out of only six schools that you’ve got from 0.9 all the way to an 8.4. There’s a lot going on there,” says Angela MacLeod, senior policy analyst with the Fraser Institute.
Looking at the bigger picture over the course of five years, Suwilaawks school also made statistically significant improvements in Grade 4 writing.
“We haven’t calculated a statistically significant improvement in their overall score…but they’re definitely moving in the right direction,” MacLeod says.
Uplands report card shows Grade 7 student did receive higher scores in numeracy, though the school’s female students were recorded outperforming the male students by 46 points on average, out of the 477 total points scored in reading.
“If you have a situation where all of your boys are doing very well but your girls are not, or vice versa, then you have to think about what’s going on in that classroom, if there’s something that needs to be changed,” MacLeod says, noting that male and female students can learn differently.
No trends were discernable changes over the last five years for Thornhill, although Grade 4 average writing, reading and numeracy scores were all slightly down.
Cassie Hall Elementary, ranked at 947, did see a drop in their overall score. Male students were also outperforming female students by 66 points on average. Seventy-three per cent of students performed below expectations, according to the report.
“Those schools that are struggling, what can they learn from the educators at the other schools?” MacLeod says.
Centennial Christian School was left out of the report card this year because of its smaller student population, though it’s exclusion is not a judgement of the school’s effectiveness.
The principals at the six Terrace area schools recorded and district superintendent Katherine McIntosh were away on spring break at press time.
McIntosh has previously said ranking schools based on one scale is not a fair assessment, but did acknowledge that it’s one among many useful pieces of evidence to determine how schools are doing.
Last year Peter Cowley, director of school performance studies at the Fraser Institute, says the scores measure whether schools are fulfilling their purpose.
“Their purpose is to determine if students meet provincial expectations and if they haven’t, consistently over time, it means they aren’t doing their job,” he says.
— with files from Jackie Lieuwen