Education: Think-tank puts Saint John High third on list of 46 N.B. schools


SAINT JOHN – A report card on high schools in New Brunswick by a Halifax-based think-tank has ranked three area high schools in the top five out of 46 in the province.

Enlarge Photo Peter Walsh/Telegraph-JournalSusan Tipper, Superintendent for school District 8 at the District Education Council meeting on Wednesday evening. The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) placed Saint John High School in third spot, up from fifth last year; Rothesay High School at fourth, up from 12th; and Kennebecasis Valley High School of Quispamsis at fifth, down from second spot last year.

“They (AIMS) don’t have a lot of concrete data to base this on, but it’s nice to be near the top of the list,” said Bob Munro, principal of KVHS.

The top two spots in the ranking were taken by Petitcodiac Regional School and Sir James Dunn Academy of St. Andrews.

All four high schools in Saint John placed higher this year than they did last year.

“It was pretty much what I expected it to be,” said Susan Tipper, superintendent of Saint John-based District 8. “Our schools, on what AIMS measures, have improved.”

The report card measure promotion rates as well as post-secondary preparation for math and language arts, Tipper said. The think-tank also rates schools on the certification levels of their teachers and the socio-economic status of the students.

It’s an interesting report, but not one that the schools rely on very much, she said.

District 8 relies on provincial assessment results to see how students are doing, as well as international results such as the Program for International Student Assessment, she said. The district also looks at the university acceptance rate and the value of scholarships awarded to graduating students as a measure of success.

St. Malachy’s Memorial High School was ranked ninth in the province, up from 21st last year. Harbour View High School placed 19th, up from 25th and Simonds High School is 36th this year, up from 41st last year.

Roger Brown, principal of Rothesay High School, said it is unclear to him what the AIMS ranking really means for his school because the researchers don’t have access to much information about student performance.

The long-serving principal said the students are doing well, but he has no idea why AIMS moved the school from 13th spot last year to fourth this year.

“As a school we could give high marks and pass everybody, but that would serve nobody – but we would probably score high,” Brown said.

The school tracks its own data that shows many graduates go on to higher education and that is one of the things measured by AIMS, he said.

“I think this year we are going to have close to 50 students with 90 and above,” Brown said of the 140 or so students expected to graduate.

District 6, based in Rothesay, does a survey each year on the perceptions of students, teachers and parents. The issues identified in those surveys are useful in finding areas that need improvement, Brown said. The AIMS report notes that researchers faced difficulties in gathering information on what is happening in New Brunswick schools. The anglophone system no longer conducts provincial tests for high school subjects, although the francophone sector does.

School assigned grades are also impossible to get in New Brunswick because the province has excluded both its universities and its district education councils (DECs) from right-to-information rules, the report says.

AIMS research and that of other internationally recognized organizations, including the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, shows that publicly releasing information improves student performance, said Charles Cirtwill, AIMS president and CEO.

The AIMS report card is published annually in Progress magazine and a complete copy can be found as a centre insert in the latest issue. This is the eighth year the magazine has dedicated an edition to the AIMS Report Card on Atlantic Canadian High Schools.