British Columbia offers more information about its schools than any other province but collects and distributes it in a way that does not encourage school comparisons, says a study released today.

Alberta is a close second in terms of the amount of data made available to the public but it gets extra points for providing the information in a spreadsheet format that allows schools to be sorted and compared, the AIMS and the FCPP say today in a release.

While Saskatchewan doesn’t make information available online, Education Ministry officials were very willing to respond to requests for information, the researchers said. Manitoba, on the other hand, does not offer much data publicly and officials were not willing to provide the information that is widely available in other Canadian provinces.

“Manitoba operates in the dark ages,” the release says.

The centre is working with the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) to develop a report card for Western Canadian schools.

“Releasing information on high schools at the school level means that poorly performing schools do not get to hide behind strong board results. At the same time, high-performing schools don’t see their performance misrepresented by poorly performing school boards – and people in those schools’ communities can celebrate that success, build upon it and show others the way,” says authors Rick Audas, an assistant professor at Memorial University in Newfoundland, and Bobby O’Keefe, AIMS research manager. AIMS has been producing report cards on Atlantic Canadian schools for either years.

“School systems, including ministries and departments of education and school districts, don’t always see it that way. Often, they simply say ‘we’re the experts, we’ve got the info we need, and that’s enough.’ However, that contradicts research that finds simply making school level (not board, division, or provincial level information) available, makes schools perform better.”