Media Release
Date Mar 2, 2004
For Immediate release
 

The Results Are In

AIMS’ 2004 High Schools Report Card released in Progress
magazine today shows few excellent OR failing schools in region

Institute lauds provinces’ commitments to improve information on school performance and accountability; says more is needed

Halifax – The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies is challenging educators to let the public know even more about what is going on in schools around the region as it released its second annual report card on Atlantic Canadian high schools.

AIMS president Brian Lee Crowley says it’s a good news/bad news story, “The good news is that thanks to AIMS’ efforts we know more about what’s happening in our schools than before we started our report card. Within a month of the release of our first report card, every province in the region announced new school performance and accountability measures, and we think the huge public interest in the report card encouraged provinces to be more forthcoming. The bad news is that in a world where educational excellence is the foundation of success, we have too few schools performing at that level.”

The report card, co-authored by AIMS vice-president Charles Cirtwill and Memorial University of Newfoundland professor Rick Audas, is the second annual comparative analysis of the performance of schools throughout the region. This year the report card is based on much richer and more varied data provided by school boards, departments of education and post secondary institutions.

According to Cirtwill there is still a long way to go, “We are in this for the long haul. Yes, this new data helps, but we will continue to push vigorously for higher levels of information and accountability. The provinces have taken some steps, but as recent poor test results in several provinces demonstrate, we cannot be satisfied with the quality of education being offered in most of our schools. The only way to achieve such improvements is to measure where excellent results are being obtained, and where schools and students need help. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

Even though the school report card integrates much more school-level data than before, the authors point out that the grades achieved by individual schools around the region are quite stable, underlining again the soundness of the methodology used in the Report Card. With the provinces incrementally improving their measurement and reporting of school results, AIMS has been able to provide a more complete picture of achievement in:

• Language arts
• Science
• Mathematics
• Humanities
• Post-secondary performance
• “Hold” and “retention” rates for Grade 10 students;

Additionally, in all provinces where the data allows, three-year rolling averages are used to smooth out spikes in year-over-year achievement and to assess schools and not groups of students.

The report card will also be released in the March issue of Progress magazine for full distribution to business readers throughout the region. “Employers are saying they need the best talent the region can produce, but schools don’t always deliver,” said Progress editor David Holt. “Over time the AIMS study will make schools more accountable, and that will lead to better schools, and a healthy debate about what it means to be a good school in these changing times. A wise man said recently that the best way to improve the economy of a place in future is to improve the quality of schools today. As one of the articles in Progress reveals, we don’t put much effort into measuring the outcomes of the education system. The AIMS study is beginning to change that.”

On release of the second report card, AIMS president Brian Lee Crowley said, “AIMS applauds all four Atlantic provinces for improvements to reporting and provision of publicly available data. In many jurisdictions, however, there remains a disturbing lack of clear and comparable data about what is going on in our schools. AIMS’ objective is clear: it will continue to provide as much information as possible to students, parents, educators and all other interested parties so that school success can be celebrated and weaker schools identified so that they can get the help they need.”

One of the foundations of the AIMS report card is the assessment of school performance measured against reasonable expectations. The study takes into account that all schools are not playing on a level field and adjusts its grades correspondingly using its proven methodology.

For detailed rankings for each province:

Newfoundland and Labrador
New Brunswick Anglophone
New Brunswick Francophone
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island

For more information or media availabilities please contact
Jordi Morgan
Director of Communications and Development
Atlantic Institute for Market Studies
902 446 3532 office
902 452 1172 cell
jordimorgan@aims.ca

AIMS’ Winter 2004 edition of “Ideas Matter”, also released today, supplies background on AIMS’ education and school reform initiative, the impacts of RC1 and the changes by AIMS and the provinces in the lead up to RC2.