William Konkin Elementary in Burns Lake was one of three local schools ranked in the Fraser Institute’s 2019 Report Card on British Columbia’s Elementary Schools. (Lakes District News file photo)

Burns Lake schools ranked low in Fraser Institute report

Three schools in the Burns Lake region received low rankings in the latest report card on elementary schools published by the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute think tank.

The Report Card on British Columbia’s Elementary Schools 2019 ranks 955 public and private schools across B.C. based on Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) test scores on reading, writing and mathematics. The rankings also consider test scores, gender gaps and percentages of tests failed or not written.

William Konkin Elementary School (WKE) in Burns Lake received a score of 2.7 out of 10, down from 3.8 in 2017. For 2015-2016 its score was 0, and in 2014 it was 1.2.

Decker Lake Elementary (DLES) scored 2.5 for 2018, up from 2.4 in 2016-2017, and 1.6 in 2015. No data was listed for 2014.

The two school’s scores put them near the bottom of the list of 955, at 920 and 927, respectively.

The percentage of students who haven’t written their tests at WKE rose from 26.9 per cent in 2014 to 35.9 in 2015, then dropped to 3.3 in 2016 and 7.9 in 2017. It increased to 25.2 per cent in 2018.

Unwritten test percentages for DLES were at a high of 44.9 per cent in 2015, then decreased to 14 per cent in 2016, 4.9 per cent in 2017 and 10.3 in 2018.

For the average Grade 4 scores in reading, writing and numeracy at both schools since 2014 and 2015, results fluctuated and then decreased in 2018.

The good news is that Grade 7 scores have improved.

At DLES, Grade 7 average scores in writing and numeracy have risen modestly since 2015.

WKE also saw increases, with its Grade 7 averages rising since 2014 in reading, writing and numeracy.

Eight years ago WKE received a score of 2.3 (out of 10) and DLES 1.7.

LOOK BACK: William Konkin Elementary School in Burns Lake moves ahead in rankings

Francois Lake Elementary School scored 4.8 out of 10, down from 6.2 in 2017. It ranked 726 out of 955 schools.

No data was listed for 2015-2016 at that school, but Grade 4 and 7 average scores in reading, writing and numeracy have fallen by several points since 2014.

The amount of students who haven’t written tests is relatively low, at 0 in 2017 and 1.3 in 2018.

Grassy Plains Elementary wasn’t included in the current report.

In a press release, the Fraser Institute said “every school is capable of improvement regardless of type, location and student characteristics.”

It cited Armstrong Elementary in Armstrong of the North Okanagan, which rose from its score of 1.9 in 2014 to 6.1 in 2018.

However, the Fraser Institute rankings have their flaws, as Mike Skinner, Assistant Superintendent of School District 91 explained to Lakes District News.

“Their report is based on a small set of indicators. Schools offer much beyond the provincial assessments that occur in Grades 4 and 7. As this is a primary source of information for the Fraser Institute, their results provide a very limited snapshot of student performance,” he said.

“A true measure of a school is very difficult (or impossible) to gauge by a few narrow indicators. Student success and development are our focus and we endeavor to meet the needs of our diverse student population in public education.”

The 2019 report card can be viewed here: https://www.fraserinstitute.org/sites/default/files/report-card-on-british-columbia-elementary-schools-2019-12759.pdf

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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