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Report card time at schools: Fraser Institute issues annual rankings

Principal Sulochana Chand at the Dasmesh Punjabi School, which is among the most improved schools in B.C., according to the Fraser Institute.  - John Van Putten
Principal Sulochana Chand at the Dasmesh Punjabi School, which is among the most improved schools in B.C., according to the Fraser Institute.
— image credit: John Van Putten

Two Abbotsford schools are among the 20 most improved in the province over the last five years, according to the Fraser Institute’s elementary school “report card” released today (Monday).

Dasmesh Punjabi and Abbotsford Christian – both independent schools – each recorded jumps in their average rankings and in their overall ratings.

The Fraser Institute school report card ranks schools in order of their results on the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA), given annually to Grade 4 and 7 students. This year, 875 schools participated.

Each school also receives a rating out of 10.

Dasmesh Punjabi was ranked 30th in B.C. – second in the district – while Abbotsford Christian School (ACS) was 172nd. This compares to an average five-year ranking of 209th out of 751 for each school.

Dasmesh improved its rating from a five-year average of 7 to 9.4 for 2009-10, while ACS went from 7 to 7.4.

The principals of both schools credit the dedication of parents, teachers and students in making the improvements.

Sulochana Chand of Dasmesh Punjabi said the school began using “intervention techniques” about four years ago to address literacy and language concerns in students.

A total of 12.5 per cent of students at the school do not have English as their first language.

Chand said the school has taken a “team approach” to addressing the issue. Teachers have taken training, and parents have supported their children’s learning at home, she said.

“This has impacted positively on what we’re doing ... We’re taking it seriously.”

ACS elementary principal Roy van Eerden said his school has also focused intently on student success, with “high-caliber” teachers who always strive for improvement.

He said that although it’s great to be recognized, the school “doesn’t put a lot of weight” on the Fraser Institute numbers.

School district superintendent Julie MacRae said the information obtained from the FSA results is just one source that teachers use in analyzing student and school success.

However, she said the Fraser Institute rankings are a “gross over-simplification of the challenges that any of our schools face.”

REPORT CARD STATS

– A total of 32 Abbotsford schools – four private and 28 public – participated in writing the FSAs.

– Three public schools (Barrowtown, Dunach and Mt. Lehman) did not take part because they did not have the required minimum enrolment of 15 students in Grades 4 and 7.

– The top-ranked school in the district is King Traditional, which placed 14th out of 875 schools in the province. (King placed third in the district last year.) It was followed by Dasmesh Punjabi (30th); Auguston Traditional and Bradner Elementary (tied for 41st); and St. James Catholic School and Matsqui Elementary (tied for 51st).

– The Fraser Institute is an independent research and educational organization. It does not administer any exams; it compiles the results of provincial exams (the Foundation Skills Assessment).

– A school’s overall rating is based on a combination of 10 factors, including reading, writing and numeracy results and the percentage of students whose scores were “below expectations.”

– The complete results can be viewed online at britishcolumbia.compareschoolrankings.org. (Results for secondary schools are usually released in May or June.)

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