Halifax – The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies today released the broadest set of public information ever presented on Atlantic Canadian secondary schools. The much-anticipated Report Card paints a rich, complex picture of the unique nature and performance of each high school in the region.

Schools in Atlantic Canada lag behind the rest of the country in academic achievement. The objective of this study is to begin the examination of why this trend exists and what can be done to fix it, by analysing the performance of the education system school by school.

Charles Cirtwill, AIMS Director of Operations said Thursday, “This report card is just one small step along the road towards improving the reporting of school performance in Atlantic Canada. Fundamental improvements in data collection and reporting are needed in our region if we are to ensure that each and every child in the region is provided the opportunity to do the best they can.”

Even before its official release, AIMS’ Report Card on Atlantic Canadian High Schools was being met with strong reaction from the Teachers Union of Nova Scotia and the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association.

AIMS President Brian Lee Crowley said prior to the launch, “This report is the beginning of a long process to provide more accountability in our public education system. Many parents, students, taxpayers and individual teachers have told us what a powerful tool this will be in understanding what is really going on in our schools. On the other hand, some people clearly will not be happy with this Report Card. These people are generally the ones who may feel it will be used to assess their own performance. For the sake of our children, such unjustified fears cannot be allowed to prevent these major improvements in accountability.”

This report ranks schools relative to what can be reasonably expected of them given their unique challenges and opportunities. On each measure, a school is given a “B” or better for exceeding expectations and a “C+” or worse for falling below expectations. These individual scores are then averaged to arrive at the final overall grade and rank for each school in each province. The only exception is Prince Edward Island, where no information is publicly available about high school performance, and the government declined an invitation to work with AIMS to identify suitable measures.

Dr. Rick Audas, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Administration, University of New Brunswick is the principal researcher for the report. “We all want our schools to be successful. To be successful it is essential we have the tools and measures to manage that success. At this point, we don’t even know what success looks like. Our Report Card is intended to open the debate on what we want to see in our schools.”

Few schools in this report card do badly across all expectations and few schools actually exceed them all. There is a little good news/bad news here for just about everyone. This is why it is critical to look not only at the overall ranking, but to consider the relative performance on each outcome measure as well.

Work has already begun on an even more detailed second annual report card. A summary of today’s report and the scores for every school will be contained in the March issue of Atlantic Progress magazine.

School report cards are used in many jurisdictions to improve accountability and school performance, including in Canada, the United States and Britain among others. Links to many of these report cards can be found on the AIMS website.

The full text of Grading our Future: Atlantic Canada’s High Schools’ Accountability and Performance in Context is also available on the AIMS website.
For further information, contact:
Charles Cirtwill, Director of Operations, AIMS 902-425-2494
Rick Audas, Assistant Professor, UNB, 506-458-7240