It all comes down to science. That seems to be the major reason there’s such a wide gap between Northumberland Regional High School and North Nova Education Centre in the recent school report card released by the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS).

In the report, NRHS was graded a C overall, 67th in the province out of 72 schools. NNEC, meanwhile, got a B and ranked 24th overall.

The recently released report card compares schools across Nova Scotia by ranking them in a variety of categories, including the number of students enrolled in university preparatory classes, the number of students who pass each grade level and post-secondary achievement.

But the real differences between the twin high schools in Pictou County seems to be in the provincial science exam results, says AIMS senior policy analyst Bobby O’Keefe.

“Northumberland does reasonably well on the engagement side of things, but based on the results on the science exams, they’re not doing as well,” O’Keefe said. “The achievement side of things is where the big difference is between Northumberland and North Nova, they’re quite similar on the engagement side of things.”

NRHS scored an F on its science provincial exams, which are physics and chemistry in Nova Scotia, while NNEC came in with a C+, which O’Keefe says is the provincial average.

“NRHS is relatively low compared to the rest of the province – getting an F is on the low end of the scale,” O’Keefe said.

Also lowering NRHS’s mark is the post-secondary achievement results of its graduates. The numbers, which are obtained from universities or community colleges, gave NRHS an F.

“It’s really only those two measures, even the language arts grades they came out similarly,” O’Keefe added.

All three schools did relatively well in the language arts grades, with NNEC coming in with a B+ and NRHS a B.

Pictou Academy, which is much smaller in scale than the other two schools, came out between them with a C+ overall and had an overall rank of 53. It ranked highest in the language arts score, with an A+.

Northumberland principal Bob Ballantyne admits seeing the science scores were low “wasn’t news to the school.

“Yes, we’re looking at science scores, they’re down. But that was information that would have already come from the province through their provincial assessment to us.”

Along with the AIMS report, he said the school will also be getting the provincial results and will be “working on ways to improve” their academic standings.

“Any time you look at ratings, you want to look at it and make an assessment. Is there information there on areas that we need to look at, and to look at improving? Sure, and you take it for those types of things.”