TATAMAGOUCHE – A recently released report card grading school successes has ranked North Colchester High School (NCHS) third in the province.
Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS), a non-partisan social and economic public policy think-tank based in Halifax, released its ninth annual school report card on Wednesday ranking 54 schools.
“I was really excited because everybody works really well together here,” said Kerri Veno, NCHS student council president.
“It’s kind of motivating for sure.”
The report card looks at school performances from 2006 to 2009 and issues grades based on two categories – achievement and engagement. Some of the items considered are exam marks, enrollment in post-secondary studies, attendance, pupil-teacher ratio and teacher qualifications.
“It’s a good day here at the school,” said NCHS principal Tom Thomson. “We’re happy.”
Thomson is a new face at the school, taking over the role of principal from Greg MacLellan who retired last June. He credits his predecessor, staff and students for achieving such a high position in the standings.
MacLellan said it was “nice” to hear the school was in the top three.
“It seems like we’re progressing every year,” he said. “They’re a group of great students and they respond nicely to the teachers and they study hard.”
While the rural high school, with an enrollment of about 114 students, received a B+ grade, the much larger Cobequid Educational Centre in Truro with 1,572 students was issued a C+ and listed in 33rd position, up from 49th place last year.
Brookfield’s South Colchester Academy, with 434 students, placed 42nd on the list, up from 59 of 60 ranked in 2010, also receiving a C+.
SCA principal Nevin Jackson said while the AIMS document is “a powerful report,” both community members and stakeholders will react to, he feels there are other sources of data that more accurately depict school accomplishments.
“That would not be a report to cause me to immediately react,” said Jackson.
“I’m certainly glad to see that we are moving in a positive direction but there is certainly key criteria that is omitted from their overall formula.”
Gary Clarke, Chignecto-Central Regional School Board superintendent, said the board continually works to improve schools and the AIMS report is one of several sources of data they look at to identify strengths and weakness.
However, dramatic changes in the ranking of schools are a concern, and the report does not show “distinct trends we can sink our teeth into.”
“A report like this that ranks the schools like that, that doesn’t tell the whole picture can sometimes do more harm than good,” said the superintendant.
Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School in Antigonish was at the top of the list with an A- grade, moving up from fourth place in 2010.
This year, Cape Breton Highlands Academy took second place with a B+ grade, dropping from its No. 1 position in 2010.
Oxford Regional High School in Cumberland County fell to the bottom of the list.
The entire report can be found at www.AIMS.ca.
School Grade rank 2011 rank 2010 student enrollment
*NCHS B+ 3/54 8/60 114
*CEC C+ 33/54 49/60 1572
*SCA C+ 42/54 59/60 434
* North Colchester High School, Cobequid Educational Centre, South Colchester Academy