LDSS ranks poorly on Fraser Institute’s controversial ranking

School District No. 91 considers the report “fundamentally flawed.”

According to the latest Fraser Institute’s ranking of secondary schools, Lakes District Secondary School (LDSS) ranked 242 of 294 schools in B.C.

The annual report, which ranks academic performance of public and independent secondary schools in B.C., was released last week.

The academic performance of LDSS was 4.4 of 10. In last year’s report, LDSS ranked 235 of 262 and its academic performance was 5.6.

The report also ranked three other schools within School District No. 91 (Nechako Lakes) – Vanderhoof’s Nechako Valley Secondary, Fort St. James Secondary and Fraser Lake Elementary-Secondary.

Nechako Valley Secondary was in the middle of the pack, ranking 165 of 294 and scoring 5.0; Fort St. James Secondary ranked 263 of 294 and scored 3.4 while Fraser Lake Elementary-Secondary ranked 285 of 294 and scored 3.6.

In the elementary schools report, which was released earlier this year, two elementary schools in the Burns Lake area were among the worst positions.

Of 944 B.C. schools compared, William Konkin Elementary placed 939, scoring 0.0 overall, while Decker Lake Elementary placed 929 and scored 1.6.

Fraser Institute’s ranking has been widely criticized by a number of educators and institutions, including School District No. 91. Manu Madhok, Assistant Superintended for School District 91, has continuously said the report is “fundamentally flawed.”

“We work hard to not let the rankings demoralize our educators but you can imagine what it feels like to have your school be judged in a report that is fundamentally flawed in design,” Madhok said earlier this year.

When asked why the school district considers the report flawed, Madhok explained it provides a “limited snapshot of student performance,” leaving out factors such as family income, students with special needs and parental educational attainment.

“There are a variety of factors that determine school readiness that are not taken into account by the Fraser Institute,” he said.

Despite the criticism, the Fraser Institute says their report cards are widely read every year. In 2015, their website – www.compareschoolrankings.org – had about 1.9 million visitors.

Peter Cowley, director of school performance studies at the Fraser Institute, said the ranking list is itself a tool of comparison, answering the question, “In general, how has this school done in key academic subjects compared to all the other schools in the ranking?”

The ranking is based on seven academic indicators using student results from annual province-wide exams, grade-to-grade transition rates and graduation rates.

Cowley said parents use the rankings when choosing a school for their children while educators can see where they stand in the pack and how much room there is to improve.

“For the schools with declining performance, turning that trend around should be a top priority for the teachers and parents of these schools,” said Cowley.