In Brief: Following the release of the AIMS 6th Annual Report Card on Atlantic Canadian High Schools, this editorial in The Amherst Daily News echoed the Institute’s call for complete public reporting of school by school grades.

While it’s important that not too much be read into the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies’ most recent report card on high schools, it’s also important that its findings be used by all stakeholders to create a better, and more public, education system.

There’s little doubt that questions are going to be raised about those schools that didn’t fare too well in the report, but instead of pointing fingers at teachers and students or using the data against those schools with poor results, we’d all be better served at taking a closer look at the information provided and target the areas in which performance can be improved.

That being said, there are many wonderful things taking place in schools from one end of this province to the other and that includes Cumberland County, where only one high school – Pugwash in 10th, made the top 25 and only one other, Amherst Regional High School in 45th place, cracked the top 50.

School boards and the Department of Education will once again attempt to downplay the AIMS findings, but the organization’s executive vice-president, Charles Cirtwill, certainly does raise a valid point that school performance is often improved when its performance results are made public.

Two years ago, AIMS won a battle against school boards when the province’s freedom of information and protection of privacy review officer ruled that the release of student achievement data was in the public interest. Despite that, Cirtwill says, no school board publicly reports either provincial exam results or teacher assigned grades on a school-by-school basis. They have the information, they just won’t release it.

It’s understandable for school boards to be hesitant to release this information out of fear it would result in a competition among school, or lead to an exodus of students from one school to another, but Cirtwill’s argument that making the information public could be an impetus to change.

It’s for this reason that while we should take the AIMS study with a grain of salt, if it results in a more public, and open, system the better.