Burns Lake area schools rank poorly

Many educators and institutions remain dismissive of the rankings

William Konkin Elementary (WKE) is once again amongst the worst positions in Fraser Institute’s elementary school ranking.

Out of the 956 elementary schools included in the annual report, WKE placed 952, with an overall rating of zero out of 10. Decker Lake Elementary wasn’t too far ahead, placing 932 with an overall rating of 2.4 out of 10.

This year’s report ranked public and independent elementary schools based on 10 academic indicators derived from the province-wide foundation skills assessment (FSA) results. The FSA’s judge Grade 4 and Grade 7 students on writing, reading and numeracy.

The school ranking has been widely criticized by a number of educators and institutions, including School District No. 91 (Nechako Lakes). Manu Madhok, assistant superintendent for School District 91, has repeatedly said the report is “fundamentally flawed” and that it provides a “limited snapshot of student performance.”

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) also remains dismissive of the rankings.

“For the last couple of years, the BCTF’s official response to the rankings has been this meme on social media,” BCTF spokesperson Rich Overgaard said.

The meme shows a photo of middle-aged white men laughing with the caption: “Our response to last year’s Fraser Institute rankings. Nothing has changed. They’re still irrelevant.”

In fact, the BCTF has asked parents to withdraw their children from Fraser Institute’s testing for years.

“A single test should never be used to pit school communities against each other,” the organization said in an open letter to parents this year. “But that is exactly what happens every year and it’s time we worked together to end the misleading practice.”

Peter Cowle, director of school performance studies for the Fraser Institute, says the ranking is a necessary tool for parents and educators.

“All too often we hear excuses that schools can’t improve their students’ performance because of the communities they serve, but there are success stories across B.C. where teachers with students that face challenges every day nonetheless find ways to help their students improve,” Cowley said.

“If you have a school where the kids are not acquiring the basic skills of knowledge – reading, writing and numeracy – that they are going to need to successfully complete high-school and pursue post-secondary education, we’ve got to change it.”

“It’s not me that’s at issue here, it’s not the report card, it’s how do we make the best possible education for our kids,” he added.

Vanderhoof’s W.L. McLeod Elementary placed 695 and scored 4.9 while Evelyn Dickson Elementary placed 802 and scored 4.3; Sinkut View Elementary, also from Vanderhoof, placed 828 with a rating of 4.1; Fraser Lake Elementary-Secondary placed 952 and scored zero out of 10 while Fort St. James’ David Hoy Elementary placed 929, with a 2.7 rating.

Not all elementary schools are included in the report. A school will only be included in the report if it has a minimum of 10 students enrolled in Grade 4.

To check the ranking of all schools, visit http://britishcolumbia.compareschoolrankings.org/

– With files from Katya Slepian