A review of high schools in New Brunswick by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies is useful, but parents shouldn’t panic if the rating of their child’s school went down, says Education Minister Kelly Lamrock.

“I would urge parents – and, in fact, my own department – not to get … caught up in the horse race (but) to break the data down itself,” he said Tuesday.

“I think any exercise that says, ‘Here are some things that we should care about, here is some hard data,’ then that is always positive.”

Lamrock said the Atlantic think-tank report measured about eight areas such as marks and post-secondary success and weighted each of those areas.

“As a parent and even as a government, you might have a different sense as to how these things should be weighted,” he said.

“For me, literacy outcomes, numeracy and science are huge things… Those to me would have even more weight than they do in the AIMS study.”

As reported in The Daily Gleaner on Tuesday, both Fredericton High School and Oromocto High School slipped in the latest AIMS report card.

FHS went from a B to a B and OHS went from a C to a C.

Lamrock said the provincial government also rates all high schools based on how well children are learning on literacy, numeracy, science, attendance and parent satisfaction.

Whenever a school drops in the province’s rating system, the school must develop and follow a plan to improve, he said.

AIMS has praised the Liberal government for spending several million additional dollars on school evaluation, Lamrock said.

Alex Dingwall, superintendent of School District 18 in which FHS is located, said the district treats the AIMS report as interesting information and individual schools review their grades and how they are evaluated.

“It is not something we disregard,” he said.

One of the criteria in the AIMS report is the number of students that go on to post-secondary education and the question is does the community value that, said Dingwall.

For example, FHS is by far and away the highest rated high school in New Brunswick in the Program for International Student Assessment ratings, which measures learning, Dingwall said.

But that doesn’t measure how many students go on to college, he said.

The Daily Gleaner was unable to reach officials with School District 17 for comment Tuesday.

OHS falls under District 17’s purview.

Lamrock also said that the AIMS report shows that a lower student-teacher ratio doesn’t automatically mean a school rates higher or that literacy scores are higher.

He said that’s significant because the government is involved in a dispute with the provincial teachers’ union about whether to spend $10 million lowering class-size limits by one as required by the collective agreement or retain hundreds of resource teachers.

“It is interesting to me, at least in this report, that there is an indication that class size does not seem to change very much about how much kids learn at high school,” the education minister said.