AIMS’ 9th annual report card ranks Atlantic Canadian high schools
It was steady on for schools in southeastern New Brunswick in the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies’ ninth annual report card on Atlantic Canadian high schools.
At best, schools climbed up the rankings a few notches, at worst, they fell a few spots.
“I am pleased that, for the most part, District 2 high schools have held their performance or slightly improved,” says District 2 Superintendent Karen Branscombe.
District 2 administers English-language schools in southeastern New Brunswick.
Jamie Newman, a policy analyst at AIMS, says assessments of individual schools are rare, but says it is important to understand the variations from school to school.
“The report is set up to allow the education users to find out what they find concerning for themselves and voice that to the education system to hold them accountable,” he says.
Newman says the annual report isn’t just about pointing out weaknesses.
“There are areas where success should be applauded and schools should look at areas where schools are successful,” he says. “It is about improving individual school’s education. If we know how individual schools are performing, then we are able to improve the whole system.”
Newman says the biggest problem in New Brunswick remains the lack of academic achievement data for English-language schools.
The province abolished provincial exams for English-language schools six years ago and is not able to provide class marks, so AIMS has to base its data solely on post-secondary achievement.
He says one positive change this year is that the New Brunswick Community College system has moved from providing only pass/fail rates to actual class marks for students.
“We find community college participation is really important. Not everybody goes to university,” he says. “This year (NBCC) was able to alter their reporting system to give us overall marks. It didn’t increase the number of schools we were able to include, but it did strengthen that key indicator.”
Newman says they are concerned assessments risk being dropped as governments try to find ways to cut back on spending.
“I just want to reiterate the importance of performance measurement, our education system collecting, analyzing and publishing information that tells us how they are doing, how they are meeting their objectives,” he says. “In these times of austerity where we need to cut, we want to remind governments that performance measurement is an important area to keep and not cut.
“It’s like a captain burning their map for fuel. You gain a bit of power, but you have no idea where to go.”
The report provides interesting little tidbits about schools.
District 2, for instance, is home to some of the province’s biggest and smallest high schools. Moncton High and Riverview High are ranked fourth and sixth respectively, while Petitcodiac Regional and Caledonia Regional are 30th and 34th out of 48.
Riverview High has the best pupil to teacher ratio in the province and Moncton High is second while Caledonia is 38th. Bernice MacNaughton High School has some of the most highly certified teachers in the province (fifth overall), while J.M.A. Armstrong/Salisbury Middle School was next to last for the level of education of its staff.
District 2 also has schools whose students are among those with the best socioeconomic status in the province – MacNaughton was fourth overall, Riverview High sixth – and the worst – Caledonia ranked 37th.
MacNaughton had the sixth best rate of post-secondary participation in the province, but their students ranked 27th when it came to how well they did in post-secondary.
Petitcodiac Regional, on the other hand, ranked 33rd overall in post-secondary participation, but those students who went on to further studies excelled, ranking third in the province. The same was true at J.M.A. Armstrong, which had the worst post-secondary participation rates in the province, but whose students who did move on ranked fifth overall.
“For us, one important factor is our ability to keep students in school,” Branscombe says. “District 2’s dropout rate has declined to two per cent and our graduation rates overall are 90 per cent.”
On the French-language side, École Mathieu-Martin has the third-best pupil-teacher ratio out of 22 schools, while École L’Odyssée is eighth. Polyvalente Louis-J.-Robichaud in Shediac has the third-best educated staff and L’Odyssée is fifth. Mathieu-Martin students have the best socioeconomic status, L’Odyssée is fourth and LJR is fifth.
Mathieu-Martin had the best post-secondary participation rates, ranked third on the language arts provincial exam and fifth on the math provincial exam. LJR was third on the math exam and 11th on the language arts exam, while L’Odyssée was eighth on the math exam and 18th on the language arts exam.
Newman says people need to look at both the rank and the grade when analyzing schools.
“You need to look at a combination of the grade and the rank,” he says. “The grade is more stable, the rank shows where your schools falls in performance amongst other schools.”
Petitcodiac Regional School, for example, fell from first to fourth spot this year, but its overall grade actually went up, from B to A-.
“For Petitcodiac, it was a result of other schools improving more than them,” he says, also pointing out that this year’s top school, Saint Mary’s Academy in Edmundston, which is always among the top ranked schools, was left out of the rankings last year due to lack of data.
Moncton’s École L’Odyssée was at the bottom of the pack again this year, but Newman points out that’s not as big a deal among French-language schools as it would be among English-language schools.
He says AIMS’ rankings and grades are based on how schools perform in comparison to other schools; one that is performing far better than others would receive an A , far worse would receive a failing grade.
But New Brunswick’s French-language schools are all performing at about the same level.
“Most of the schools have areas where they do really well and where they do really poorly as well,” he says. “It’s very important on the francophone side that drops or increases in ranks may be exaggerated because all the schools are really close.”
Thus a few percentage points drop on a provincial exam could send you tumbling down the ranks if other schools only dropped a percentage or two.
A case in point is École Samuel-de-Champlain in Saint John, which was ranked 19th this year with a C grade, tumbling from first overall last year with a B grade.
The top school on the francophone side has a B , while the bottom-ranked L’Odyssée received a C.
In contrast, the top English-language school was awarded an A grade, while the bottom school was a D.
Newman says L’Odyssée also takes the report in the right spirit.
“I spoke with the principal yesterday,” he says. “Every year he looks at it and doesn’t sit back and say, ‘We’re last every year,’ he says, ‘How can we improve? What is this telling us?’ and not ‘this is a bunch of garbage and it doesn’t represent our school.'”
Newman says that’s exactly what they hope schools do.
“That is the key message. If you look at the individual areas where you are performing poorly and say, ‘What can we do to improve those areas?’ You will see that represented in our assessment,” he says.
Newman says they do see change from year to year.
“We see that some schools are able to put efforts into improving, whether it be math provincial exam marks or improving abilities to keep students in their seats,” he says. “Although we use three-year rolling averages, we still see fluctuations for the schools that put efforts into improving the areas that are important to students.”
Branscombe says the AIMS report card is another tool schools can use to assess progress.
“Schools can use the data to ask questions and drill down to the root of some of the scores,” she says. “We know that this is a snapshot and one more piece of data available to schools.”
New Brunswick – Anglophone (48 schools rated)
(Last year’s grade and rank in brackets)
1. Saint Mary’s Academy, Edmundston: A (n/a)
2. Doaktown Consolidated School: A- (B, 13)
3. Upper Miramichi Regional High School, Boiestown: A- (B, 7)
4. Petitcodiac Regional School: A- (B , 1)
5. Stanley Regional High School: B (B-, 17)
6. Hartland Community School: B (B, 6)
7. Woodstock High School: B (C , 34)
8. Kennebecasis Valley High School, Rothesay: B (B, 5)
9. St. Stephen High School, Old Ridge: B (B-, 16)
10. Cambridge-Narrows School: B (n/a)
11. Tobique Valley High School, Plaster Rock: B (B, 11)
12. Sugarloaf Senior High School, Campbellton: B (B-, 27)
13. Carleton North Senior High School, Bristol: B (B-, 30)
14. Fredericton High School: B (B-, 15)
15. J.M.A. Armstrong/Salisbury Middle School: B (B, 8)
16. Saint John High School: B (B , 3)
17. Sir James Dunn Academy, St. Andrews: B (B , 2)
18. James M. Hill Memorial High School, Miramichi: B (B-, 14)
19. Sussex Regional High School: B (B, 12)
20. Rothesay High School: B (B, 4)
21. Leo Hayes High School, Fredericton: B (B, 10)
22. Moncton High School: B (B-, 22)
23. Miramichi Valley High School: B- (B-, 18)
24. Dalhousie Regional High School: B- (C , 40)
25. Blackville School: B- (C , 35)
26. Riverview High School: B- (B-, 21)
27. St. Malachy’s Memorial High School, Saint John: B- (B, 9)
28. Bernice MacNaughton High School, Moncton: B- (B-, 20)
29. Fundy High School, St. George: B- (C , 38)
30. Harvey High School, Harvey Station: B- (C-, 46)
31. Tantramar Regional High School, Sackville: B- (B-, 24)
32. John Caldwell School, Grand Falls: C (B-, 26)
33. Caledonia Regional High School, Hillsborough: C (B-, 25)
34. Harrison Trimble High School, Moncton: C (C , 33)
35. Harbour View High School, Saint John: C (B-, 19)
36. Belleisle Regional High School, Springfield: C (C , 32)
37. Hampton High School: C (B-, 31)
38. Bathurst High School: C (C , 37)
39. Simonds High School, Saint John: C (C , 36)
40. Minto Memorial High School: C (C, 42)
41. McAdam High School: C (B-, 28)
42. North and South Esk Regional High School, Sunny Corner: C (B-, 29)
43. Grand Manan Community School: C (C, 44)
44. Nackawic Senior High School: C- (C, 45)
45. Southern Victoria High School, Perth-Andover: C- (C , 39)
46. Oromocto High School: C- (C, 41)
47. Bonar Law Memorial School, Rexton: D (C, 43)
48. Chipman Forest Avenue School: D (B-, 23)
New Brunswick – Francophone (22 schools rated)
(Last year’s grade and rank in brackets)
1. École Aux quatre vents, Dalhousie: B (B, 6)
2. École Marie-Gaétane, Kedgwick: B (B, 2)
3. École Carrefour Beausoleil, Miramichi: B (n/a)
4. École Mathieu-Martin, Dieppe: B (B, 4)
5. Centre La Fontaine, Néguac: B (B, 9)
6. Polyvalente A.-J.-Savoie, Saint-Quentin: B (B, 8)
7. École Sainte-Anne, Fredericton: B (B, 3)
8. Polyvalente Mari-Esther, Shippagan: B- (B, 7)
9. Polyvalente Louis-J.-Robichaud, Shediac: B- (B-, 13)
10. Cité-des-Jeunes-A.-M.-Sormany, Edmundston: B- (B, 5)
11. Polyvalente Roland-Pépin, Campbellton: B- (C , 17)
12. École Régionale de Baie-Sainte-Anne: B- (B-, 16)
13. École Clément-Cormier, Bouctouche: B- (B-, 10)
14. École Secondaire Assomption, Rogersville: B- (B-, 14)
15. Polyvalente Louis-Mailloux, Caraquet: B- (B-, 12)
16. Polyvalente Thomas-Albert, Grand Falls: B- (B-, 11)
17. Polyvalente W.-Arthur-Losier, Tracadie-Sheila: C (B-, 15)
18. École secondaire Népisiguit, Bathurst: C (C , 20)
19. École Samuel-de-Champlain, Saint John: C (B, 1)
20. École Grande-Rivière, Saint-Léonard: C (C , 18)
21. École Mgr-Marcel-François-Richard, Saint-Louis-de-Kent: C (C , 19)
22. École L’Odyssée, Moncton: C (C, 21)