Both Lloydminster school divisions are disagreeing with a recent study suggesting Border City high schools aren’t making the grade.
The information was compiled by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) and released earlier this month with grades given to just under 178 schools across Saskatchewan.
In Lloydminster, Holy Rosary High school placed 135th, scoring a C+, while Lloydminster Comprehensive High school placed 158th, scoring a C. Fewer than 300 schools were surveyed, but 178 were ranked against each other because of missing or incomplete data.
“We looked at it and I shared it with our board chair and vice chair. We’re not going to base any results or any strategies in terms of what we do on it,” said Michael Diachuk, director of education for the LPSD, citing reasons such as inaccuracy and a lack of timelieness of the survey.
Two main sections – engagement and academic achievement – are looked at to determine the final ranking.
Attendance, the number of students moving up from year to year and unique data from the Saskatchewan ministry of education was compiled for the engagement section. Marks in math, language arts, humanities and sciences as well as provincial exams were taken into account for the academic achievement section.
“Basically, we’re trying to assess how well a school does at teaching the core competencies and how well they do at keeping students interested and in the class,” said Jamie Newman, policy analyst with AIMS.
The ranked schools are graded according to their relation to the top-ranked school, which was Englefeld School. The highest-ranking area school was St. Walburg School, placing 89th with a grade of B-.
A unique factor in the final grade for an AIMS study are factors outside of the school control, including location and income of the families being served.
“There’s certain situations that schools are in that they can’t necessarily overcome, so if the school is in a poverty-stricken area we take that into account and adjust the scores in context,” said Newman.
While he said the scores should be used as a tool by the graded schools, he admitted not everything about a school can be told through a survey.
“We don’t claim to know the feelings of students and teachers and all that kind of stuff. We assess empirical data,” said Newman, adding a former student at one of the top-ranked schools contacted AIMS and said they were bullied incessantly with no help from the teachers.
“We encourage people to go to the schools to actually know what the teachers are like and what the students are like.”
Despite both Lloydminster high schools scoring low in the survey, the Catholic and public school division are confident the results won’t have a negative impact.
Doug Robertson, director of education for the LCSD, criticized the timeliness of the results. A rolling average was compiled from 2005-2008 school years.
“You can make it what it is, even we can make it what it is, but it’s a little more of a historic piece in terms of where we’ve been and where we will go,” said Robertson, adding he hopes more surveys by AIMS would be more current.
The LCSD uses other data to assess their program, including the Saskatchewan government’s more standardized Assessment for Learning Unit (AFL).
“I put little stock in the AIMS because it’s not data that you should base an opinion on where you’d like to send your kids,” he said adding he thinks simply bringing the parents in to show them the school’s programming would be enough to convince them it is a good school.
While Diachuk echoed Robertson’s criticisms of the surveys punctuality, he also said the survey’s accuracy is questionable as AIMS has consistently had the incorrect enrolment numbers for LCHS. He guessed this was a result of the challenge of being on the border as even the Saskatchewan ministry gets the numbers wrong because of students who are Alberta residents.
The LPSD also uses an alternate grading system, which is compiled using an in-house data management and warehouse system.
Other area schools placement:
St. Walburg School – 89th, B-
Maidstone High School – 91st, B-
Lashburn High School – 121st, B-
Hillmond Central School – 134th, C+
Holy Rosary High School – 135th, C+
Lloydminster Comprehensive High School – 158th, C
Paradise Hill School – 164th, C