Englefeld School has been ranked as the top high school in Saskatchewan.

The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) released their first annual report card on Western Canadian High Schools in Saskatchewan and Manitoba last week. 
And at the top of the heap, with a final grade of A+, was Englefeld School, the only school in the Englefeld Protestant Separate School Division.

The report compiled data from the Ministry of Education, school boards, schools and other publicly-available sources, and ranked schools relative to other schools based on performance in the 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 school years.  Schools with insufficient data are listed as unranked. 

A total of 178 schools in Saskatchewan were ranked, while 106 were not.

According to AIMS, “every school community faces unique challenges.  The AIMS model adjusts the performance reports to incorporate these challenges, levelling the playing field.”

Family wealth was one of the things taken into consideration in the report, but Englefeld School still came out on top, though its students “are from areas with below average wealth compared to the rest of the province,” AIMS stated.

“This is certainly good for our school and community,” noted Englefeld principal Charles Biemans when contacted by the Journal regarding the ranking.
“It was a surprise,” he added, as he had not heard this study was being conducted.

“When our director told me a report was coming out and Englefeld School had placed first, I was not sure if it was good or bad,” he laughed.

The report, from what Biemans understands, looks at engagement and achievement of students in measuring a school’s performance.

After that, he said, they threw in some things to even things out — enrolment, student-teacher ratios and socio-economic status.

All schools in the province were judged on the same criteria and ranked accordingly.

Englefeld’s top finish is “a feather in the cap… We’ve worked hard for our school in the past 10 years,” Biemans noted.

Englefeld School, once part of the Humboldt Rural School Division, was actually slated for closure about 10 years ago.  The community decided to re-open their school by creating their own separate school division.  This year, it has an enrolment of 98 students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Twenty-nine of those students are in Grades 10 to 12.

Biemans is obviously proud of his school and what staff try to do for students.

“We have a great staff committed to the students.. (and) excellent community backing.  The community has worked hard for the school and they back us 100 per cent.”

What sets Englefeld School apart from the rest?
Biemans believes it is the small size of the school.  Teachers get to know students one-on-one and are able to “get a good handle on what our students need… And we’re able, for the most part, to give them what they want.”

The students themselves are pretty proud of the results, Biemans noted, though the report is not based on their performance, but those of classes in school over two years ago.

“This ranking is one of many ways we get to look at school performance.  This one says we’re number one, and we’re proud of it,” Biemans said.

Ranking second in the report was Lake Lenore School, part of the Horizon School Division.  Lake Lenore also received an A+ grade.

“Within the many pieces of data used to generate the report, we did well,” stated principal Ralph Viczko. “Lake Lenore School has a supportive community and a dedicated staff. Everyone contributes to the success of our students, parents, teachers, support staff and our SCC. We also have great kids, and through the support available we try to provide every opportunity we can to help them succeed.”

The mission statement of the school is “to be the best we can be,” Viczko noted.

“Just like every other school, we strive to meet the needs of all our students, to maintain a good balance, and we are always looking for ways to improve.  The report is an indication that we are doing some things right and we appreciate the recognition for our efforts and the opportunity to celebrate our success.”

Other Horizon School Division schools also did well.  In 11th spot, Viscount Central School got a grade of A-. Ranked 23rd, Lanigan Central High School got a B+, as did Foam Lake Composite School (ranked 22nd) and Kelvington High School (ranked 35th).

Humboldt Collegiate Institute also got a B+ and was ranked 39th.

In 46th spot, Quill Lake School got a B, as did Wadena Composite School (53rd), Colonsay School (60th), St. Brieux School (70th) and Wynyard Composite High School (71st).

Watson School (83rd) got a B-, as did Muenster School (116th).

Naicam School, part of the North East School Division, received a B and was ranked 52nd.

 Unranked schools from this area included those in Annaheim, Bruno, LeRoy, Wakaw, Watrous, Wishart  as well as St. Peter’s High School and Three Lakes School in Middle Lake.

“The findings of the (AIMS) report does not really come as news,” stated Horizon School Division director of Education Marc Danylchuk. “This report is one of several reports issued from various internal and external sources each year that provides us with a snap shot of how our schools are doing.

“Although this information may still provide valuable insight, we question the value of reviewing data from over two years ago. As an example, Wishart School which is included in the report has been closed for nearly two years,” Danylchuk added.

“As stated in the report, ranks indicate the performance of schools relative to other schools. There are many great success stories from schools across Horizon School Division and we question if ranking schools against one another will ultimately help to improve student outcomes.

“In addition to our own accountability and reporting measures and those provided by the Ministry of Education, we welcome any data that may help improve learning outcomes for our students,” he added. “We will review the information supplied by the report to see what we can learn from it.”