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Can schools be ranked?

Private school ratings a contentious matter

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School rankings or ratings are always (and certainly ought to be) contentious. While some parents may seek a universal and an authoritative list of the best private schools, such a resource does not exist. You must visit a school (with your child) and ask administrators questions to determine whether a school is a match for your child.

When you tour a school, be sure to talk to its administrators, teachers, students, and their parents; each party will provide you with a unique angle on the school's life. Indeed, the most fundamental flaw with such broad lists is that they do not account for your child's unique needs and learning styles. First-hand accounts are the only way to get this information.

However, problems with rankings are not a justification for dismissing them completely, as these evaluations can be a good starting point in your search for a top private school in Canada. Moreover, once you have a found a private school that you like, you could cross-reference your opinions of the school with rankings or ratings. But the most reliable sources such as ourkids.net and Peterson's disclaim private school rankings. So, you should only use them at your own discretion.

Here at Our Kids, we offer our own private school search, but we do not rank schools. That being said, there are some intriguing resources for private school ratings in Canada and abroad. In United States, for example, Prep Review completes an annual intensive private school assessment.

Canadian Private School Ratings

In Canada, the Fraser Institute creates annual report cards for each private school. You could learn more about these school rankings by visiting the Fraser Institute's website. Fraser's rankings of schools in Canada typically exemplify that private schools have been much more successful at educating children than have public schools. Simply put, private schools can offer small class sizes with individualized attention, as well as plenty of opportunities for extra-help and enriching extra-curricular activities. They usually have the most resources.

Nonetheless, school ratings and rankings are undeniably controversial. For instance, proponents of public schools regularly criticize these lists because they usually do not recognize that public schools are legally obligated to retain failing or troubled students, thus reducing the school's average and ignoring all of the students who excel. If you are going to consult a ranking or rating system, you should look for one that calculates a school's median. In other words, how well are the students in the middle of the two grade extremes doing? In so doing, you will eliminate students whose marks are at the farthest end of either side of curve.

We encourage you to explore some of our resources and those beyond our site. Here are some useful links.

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