Pictou Academy got a B- and Northumberland Regional High School got a C+ from the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies Seventh Annual Report Card. They ranked 29 and 49 respectively out of the 55 schools ranked.

While there is movement in both directions, more schools have seen their grade improve than decline in the past five years in Nova Scotia, with more than twice the number of improving schools than those seeing their grade fall, AIMS announced in a release.

“Schools are getting better,” says AIMS Research Manager Bobby O’Keefe. “Not everywhere and not every year, but the early indications are that even schools with some of the worst grades in the early years are moving up over time.”

AIMS, a not for profit research group, studies public policy.

At Pictou Academy, Principal James Ryan said he was satisfied with the results.

“As usual it’s more data that we can take a look at and hopefully find some areas we can improve in,” he said.

He did caution the data doesn’t give a complete picture of all the students learn and the values being instilled.

“It’s not the be all and end all as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

The school did particularly well on provincial examinations, which shows graduates from Pictou Academy are ready for whatever they face after leaving school.
One area where the Academy did poorly was in the new attendance portion of the report. On this they received an F. That may have something to do with the way the school records the data, Ryan said, but it is certainly something they have been and will continue to work to improve.

At Northumberland, Principal Bob Ballantyne echoed much the same sentiment.
“We improved in particular areas, but overall were near the same place we were last year,” he said. Areas the school improved in were provincial English and math assessments, but like Pictou Academy they struggled with attendance.

Ballantyne said there was really no new information, though.

For the most part “it’s somebody taking data the school already has and looking at it and then coming up with assumptions about our school,” he said. Most of the data used by AIMS is two years old, he said.

“It would have been data from 2007 and we’re 2009,” he said. “It’s also averaged over a three-year period, so if this school had a bad result five years ago which would have been the second year the school opened, it is still impacting the results. So all the good work that the teachers have been doing over the year isn’t going to show up for another two years.”

A grade was not given for North Nova Education Centre. AIMS said they did not rank schools that did not provide complete data.