SYDNEY — After three years on top, a Cape Breton school slipped to second in an annual report card of Nova Scotia high schools.

The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies released its annual ranking of Atlantic Canadian high schools Wednesday. It looked at school performance in the 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years.

Among Nova Scotia english schools, Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional School, under the Strait Regional School Board, took the top spot with an A- due to its improved rank in post-secondary participation. It replaced Cape Breton Highlands Academy in Terre Noire, which had held the top spot for three years. It received a B+.

The ranking looks at factors such as a-teacher ratio, attendance rates, moving-on rates, marks in science and language arts, post-secondary participation and provincial exam results.

Jack Beaton, superintendent of the Strait Regional School Board, said any time positive attention is focused on schools it is a good thing, but that the board doesn’t support the ranking of schools.

“We try to make sure all schools are resourced and supported the right way,” Beaton said.  “Ranking is really not something that we see as being a positive thing for schools.”

Beaton said there are many other things taking place in schools outside of the factors considered by AIMS that contribute to a quality education.

“I don’t know if it gives a voice to the overall quality experience a student gets in school,” Beaton said.

Ambrose White, superintendent with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, agreed with Beaton.

“The whole idea of talking about education is good, but we don’t rank schools … we work with the high schools to be the best they can be for their kids,” he said. “At the end of the day, we have schools in the top middle and at the bottom, and that can change from year to year.”

As for whether the ranking resonates with parents, White said he’s never had parents bring up the report card with him or ask why their child’s school ranked as it did.

Dalbrae Academy in Mabou was 12th with a B; Richmond Academy in Louisdale placed 14th with a B; Inverness Academy was 15th with a B-; Glace Bay High was 16th with a B-; Memorial High in Sydney Mines placed 20th with a B-; the Strait Area Education Recreation Centre in Port Hawkesbury was 31st with a B-; Sydney Academy placed 43rd with a C+; Cabot High in Neils Harbour was 45th with a C.

In all, 54 high schools were ranked. There was not enough data available for five CBVRSB high schools to be included in the ranking. They were Baddeck Academy, Breton Education Centre in New Waterford, the recently closed Holy Angels High in Sydney, Rankin School of the Narrows in Iona and Riverview High in Coxheath. Among the data missing for the schools were teacher certification and student marks in several areas.

White said he wasn’t immediately able to explain the missing data. He said there have been changes in senior staff at the board and the data used in the ranking is a few years old. He said he believes the process and data that AIMS is working with is improving.

AIMS was unable to include data for 2008-2009 for Conseil scolaire acadien provinciel schools, resulting in only one school meeting the requirements for a final grade and rank. Ecole-NDA in Cheticamp received a grade of B.

The full report card can be found online at