Come September, Saskatchewan should have a glimpse at the first independently produced report card ranking the province’s schools.
On Monday, the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) and the Frontier Centre for Public Policy released its first interim report card on western Canadian high schools.
The report gathered school-level information, such as enrolment, socio-economic status, attendance, graduation rates, standardized test scores and marks from every high school in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and B.C.
Breaking down this data by school, rather than school division, can help identify who is excelling, and which schools could use more resources and attention, says Bobby O’Keefe, research manager with AIMS and one of the study’s authors.
“You can fairly easily look at a division that has an average pass rate, for example, on a particular exam or course that is 80 per cent or 85 per cent,” O’Keefe says. “But if three of your schools are at 100 per cent, and one of your schools is at 60 or 50, you have different problems at each individual school.”
He also points to an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) study that found making school achievement data public resulted in better student performance, regardless of whether the school was in a rich or poor neighbourhood.
“Openness matters, a lot, if we want our kids to be better educated and better equipped to take on the world,” AIMS wrote in a media release.
The interim report is missing some data, and lacks a simple overall ranking for each school, which O’Keefe says will be done in the final report card, set for release this fall.
For example, attendance rates for Saskatchewan schools are absent from the report, and the results have yet to take into account the socio-economic status data in the comparison of schools.
The numbers used in the report are also three to five years old, meaning information is currently missing for three of Saskatoon’s newest schools.
Generally, the interim results show Saskatoon high schools have some of the highest student-to-teacher ratios in the province.
Within the Saskatoon-area, Marion Graham, Holy Cross and Bishop James Mahoney have some of the best graduation rates, while graduation rates at Nutana and Oskayak schools are among the lowest in the province.
The data also show teacher-assigned grades in math and English in Saskatoon do not always line up with schools’ performances on provincial standardized tests.
Neither Saskatoon Public Schools or Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools would provide a comment on the report Monday.
The authors say much of the data was readily handed over by Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education upon request, but in Alberta and B.C. the information was available online, where it is more readily accessible to the public. The report was also highly critical of the Manitoba government, which refused to provide much information to the authors.
AIMS has been producing a similar report card of high schools in the four Atlantic Canadian provinces for eight years. O’Keefe says the report is not able to compare schools between provinces, because each province collects its data differently.