Study says all our schools below average

Annual Fraser Institute report says every local registered foundation skills testing results below B.C. average

If you find the annual Fraser Institute school rankings a waste of your time, click ahead to the next story.

Otherwise, be prepared for a little bit of good and a little bit of bad.

The good news in rankings released yesterday is Ladysmith Intermediate School continued a recent trend of improvement and Ecole Davis Road bounced back strongly after a down year.

The bad news is every school in the Ladysmith-Chemainus area is below the provincial average.

The report ranked 978 elementary schools from across the province based on the results of foundation skills assessment testing done in the 2013-14 school year. The FSAs are given annually to Grade 4 and Grade 7 students to test their proficiency in math, reading and writing. The average provincial score from 2013-14 was 6.0.

• The now-closed Ecole Davis Road topped all local schools this year with a ranking of 557th and a score of 5.7. The total was up considerably from a 4.2 the previous year.

• LIS maintained the sizable jump it had made in the rankings from the previous year, finishing in 647th place. Its score of 5.3 was well above its five-year average of 4.5.

• Crofton Elementary scored third-best results among local schools, finished in 692nd place, although its 5.1 score was well below its five-year average of 6.2.

• North Cedar declined for the third consecutive year, dropping to 844th spot. Its score of 4.1 down from its five-year average of 4.6.

• St. Joseph’s, which was not part of the report last year, also ranked 844th, with the same score of 4.1.

• North Oyster and Chemainus Elementary Schools were not included in the Fraser Institute rankings released yesterday — usually an indication that not enough students wrote the tests to make them statistically relevant.

Ecole Davis Road was closed after the last school year and its French immersion program transferred to North Oyster.

Eighteen of the top 21 schools in this year’s overall rankings were private institutions. Private schools Aspengrove in Lantzville and Queen Margaret’s in Duncan topped all schools within the two local districts, ranking 24th and 53rd, respectively.

The second best public school score (after Hammond Bay) in the Nanaimo and Cowichan districts was Nanaimo’s learn@home program, finishing 121st overall with a score of 7.9.

The B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils has spoken out in support of the FSA tests, saying they provide important information about the effectiveness a school’s programs. But B.C.’s teachers have been campaigning to boycott FSA testing for years, claiming they intrude on teaching time and are unfairly used to rank schools.

Officials in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district share some of their concerns and members of the previous school board decided last year to send a letter to the Ministry of Education reiterating their opposition to many aspects of the testing.

Specifically, the board indicated it was concerned about the “misuse” of the data to rank schools and its belief that the FSA results also serve to discount the quality teaching and learning that occurs in classrooms.

The Fraser Institute has long maintained the rankings, which are quickly available on its website, help parents and teachers compare schools by showing which schools have shown improvement, and which schools have fallen behind.

— with file from Robert Barron