Fraser Institute School Rankings 2012: B.C. Private High Schools Dominate Top Spots

Most of the high schools in the Fraser Institute’s top 20 rankings are private schools. Get the news, views and analysis for the B.C. and Yukon report card.

Crofton House School

Crofton House in Vancouver was second place among the top ranked schools in the Fraser Institute's 2012 report card. PHOTO SUPPLIED BY CROFTON HOUSE SCHOOL

The top 14 high schools in the 2012 Fraser Institute rankings for B.C. and Yukon are private or independent.

The independent think tank’s high school report card found that 48 out of the 280 schools are private or independent schools, according to CTV British Columbia.

Vancouver’s all-girls’ private schools York House independent school (the top school for the second year in a row, scoring 10 out of 10), Crofton House (improving to 9.9 from 9.7) and Little Flower Academy (rating 9.7) were the top three, the Province reported. Coed school Glenlyon Norfolk in Victoria tied for third with Little Flower Academy.

The report card also found that 10.2 per cent of secondary school exams in 2011 received a failing grade, compared to 8.1 per cent last year.

The annual report card of B.C. and Yukon secondary schools, released on April 30, shows individual school results over the past five years. It allows parents and educators to see and compare schools that are improving or falling behind in academics.

Mainly based on standardized tests, it rated 280 public and independent secondary schools in B.C. and Yukon based on data from the government’s annual provincewide exams. Alberta, Ontario and Quebec elementary and secondary schools are also included in the Fraser Institute’s rankings each year.

Top 20 School Rankings: 2010-2011

School Name, School Type (Private or Public), 2010-11 Rating, City

York House School, private, 10, Vancouver, B.C.

Crofton House School, private, 9.9, Vancouver, B.C.

Little Flower Academy, private, 9.7, Vancouver, B.C.

Glenlyon Norfolk School, private, 9.7, Victoria, B.C.

Southridge School, private, 9.6, Surrey, B.C.

St. George’s School, private, 9.6, Vancouver, B.C.

Brentwood College School, private, 9.6, Mill Bay, B.C.

West Point Grey Academy, private, 9.4, Vancouver, B.C.

Vancouver College, private, 9.4, Vancouver, B.C.

Meadowridge School, private, 9.3, Maple Ridge, B.C.

Timothy Christian School, private, 9.3., Chilliwack, B.C.

Collingwood School, private, 9.2, West Vancouver, B.C.

King David High School, private, 9.2., Vancouver, B.C.

St. Michaels University School, private, 9.0, Victoria, B.C.

University Hill Secondary, public, 8.8, Vancouver, B.C.

St. Thomas More, private, 8.8, Burnaby, B.C.

Relevant High, private, 8.8, Surrey, B.C.

Lord Byng, public, 8.7, Vancouver, B.C.

Southpointe, private, 8.6, Delta, B.C.

Kelowna Christian, private, 8.6, Kelowna, B.C.

Richmond Christian, private, 8.6, Richmond, B.C.

View more results for the 280 private and public schools included in the Report Card on Secondary Schools in British Columbia and Yukon 2012. 

‘Flawed Information’ or a Valuable Tool to Help Schools Improve?

The rankings distort the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA), basic reading, writing and numeracy tests for students from grades 4 to 7, said Helen Raptis, University of Victoria education researcher, in an interview with the Saanich News.

“Parents continue to rely on flawed information,” she told the newspaper, citing factors such as the number of students excluded from writing the tests that are combined with test results in determining rankings. “(The Fraser Institute) adds variables that haven’t been tested to have any merit in terms of measuring student achievement.”

In a motion passed late last month, the B.C. School Trustees’ Association called on the government to replace FSA standardized tests for every student with randomized student assessments in order to stop the school rankings, the Vancouver Sun reported. The Liberal government is in favour of the FSA, which it says helps identify struggling students.

She gave the example of Torquay public elementary school, which got higher FSA test scores in 2011 than the independent school Pacific Christian but ranked lower in the Fraser Institute rankings than Pacific Christian.

Using Test Results to Measure School Performance

Critics say the rankings don’t give an accurate measure of a school’s performance. A high percentage of English-as-a-second-language (ESL) and special needs students, for instance, could be a factor in the rankings, the Burnaby News Leader reported.

“In the way [results] are collated and presented by the Fraser Institute, parents aren’t going to get an accurate reading of what a school community will bring to their child and how their child will benefit from that school,” said Doug Strachan, communications manager for the Surrey school district, in an interview with Surrey Now.

Strachan told the Surrey newspaper that he doesn’t agree with how the Fraser Institute is using the test results, though he sees value in the FSA as a helpful assessment tool. “It doesn’t tell you whether the school community is a healthy, vibrant one in which a child can succeed,” he said in an interview with Surrey Now.

In response to the opposition of many educators and school boards to the rankings, Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies, told CTV British Columbia that the rankings are “the only objective measures that are easily available and easily understandable that the parents and educators have.” In addition, the Fraser Institute pointed out that a COMPAS poll of more than 1,000 B.C. parents found unanimous support for the government’s provincewide testing policy and for parents’ right to use those test results to compare schools.

“Clearly, parents want to know whether their local schools are meeting the provincial standard for learning,” Cowley said in a press release. “Whether it’s schools, hospitals, or any public institution, governments need to measure performance and encourage improvement. Our annual school rankings help parents hold school boards accountable and push for better results.”

The Fraser Institute itself says the rankings can help parents and schools see and compare students’ academic performance and help them improve, but they are not the complete picture of a school. Parents are encouraged to do their own research and visit schools.

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Each school’s demographics are included in the report card to give context, including parents’ average income, the percentage of ESL students, and the percentage of special needs students. “When comparing school performance, it’s important to consider all factors that affect learning,” Cowley said in a press release. “That’s why our report card offers demographic data in addition to exam results.”

Fastest-Improving B.C. Secondary Schools

Lake Cowichan (Public), Lake Cowichan

Selkirk (Public), Kimberley

Heritage Park (Public), Mission

Mark R. Isfeld (Public), Courtenay

Edward Milne (Public), Sooke

Elphinstone (Public), Gibsons

David Thompson (Public), Invermere

Langley Christian (Private), Langley

Walnut Grove (Public), Langley

Dr. Charles Best (Public), Coquitlam

Brentwood College School (Independent), Mill Bay

Fort Nelson (Public), Fort Nelson

Guildford Park (Public), Surrey

Clarence Fulton (Public), Vernon

Crofton House School (Private), Vancouver

Archbishop Carney (Private), Port Coquitlam

Rutland (Public), Kelowna

Sir Charles Tupper (Public), Vancouver

Some Public Schools Show Solid Results

Vancouver’s University Hill (scoring 8.8 out of 10) and Lord Byng public schools cracked the top 22 spots, at 15th and 18th place, respectively, according to the report card.

Fourteen public schools across B.C. are among the fastest improving over the past five years and 10 of those schools are below the provincial average of parental incomes.

“They’ve found ways to ensure that the current class is doing better than the previous classes, and that is all you can ask of any school,” Cowley said in an interview with CTV British Columbia. “It doesn’t matter where you start from, it’s which direction you’re going in that counts.”

 (Browse and review some of B.C.’s private schools.)

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Is there value to school rankings? How can parents and educators help schools improve and monitor students’ performance? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below. 


Fraser Institute School Rankings Series: News, Views and Analysis

Fraser Institute Flunks on Grading High Schools

Editorial: Student Testing a Useful Measure

Ending the Reign of the Fraser Institute’s School Rankings 

About Christl Dabu

Christl Dabu is the former editor at Our Kids Media ( Before her proverbial plane landed at Our Kids, she had worked as an editor at the Toronto Star, and she had been country-hopping in Egypt, China and some dozen other countries and 40 cities ... to Write, Edit and Travel. She encourages you to regularly check out the blog and the Our Kids Newsletter for parents and Dialogue Newsletter for educators for fresh web-exclusive content. Check out Our Kids on Facebook ( Follow Our Kids (@ourkidsnet)and Christl (@ChristlJZDabu) on Twitter.

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