LOCAL HIGH SCHOOLS FALL BELOW AVERAGE
WINDSOR, Ont. -- High schools in Windsor-Essex have fallen below the provincial average, according to a Fraser Institute annual ranking of Ontario secondary schools released Sunday.
"Clearly, on the whole, there are some schools in the (Windsor-Essex) area that have some work to do and have some need for improvement. They are not drastically under the average but still definitely underperforming the average," said Michael Thomas, the Fraser Institute's associate director of school performance studies.
In the annual study called The Report Card on Ontario's Secondary Schools, the provincial average rating of all secondary schools in Ontario is 6.0/10.
The Greater Essex County District School Board had an average of 5.7/10 from all its high schools while the Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board had an average of 5.8/10.
Belle River high school is the top-ranked school in the region, with a rating of 8.2/10 and ranking 50 on the full list of 718 schools. St. Thomas of Villanova is the top-rated Catholic high school - and secondplace overall in the region - with a rating of 8.0/10. Vincent Massey is this year's thirdhighest ranked high school in the area according to the report with a rating of 7.8/10.
The rankings are based on data from the annual provincewide tests of literacy and math administered last year by the Ontario government's Education Quality and Accountability Office. This year 718 public, Catholic and francophone secondary schools were ranked across the province.
Thomas explained the annual report is a vital tool for parents of elementary children deciding where to send their children, as well as for parents who want to understand how their teenagers' schools ranks both locally and provincially.
"The best use of the report card and what it's designed to do is to really ask one question: How is my school doing compared to all the other schools in the report," Thomas said. "Its purpose is for parents to see how their school is doing and to see if it's keeping up with other schools."
Al Maghnieh, a spokesman for the WECDSB, said the Catholic board looks forward to seeing the Fraser Institute's annual report each year.
"We always look forward to seeing reports on academic achievement because they do serve as one more factor to many factors on how to assess our academic standings locally," Maghnieh said. "This Fraser report is just one more indicator on how we continue to plan for academic success."
But Clara Howitt, the public board's superintendent of education responsible for professional learning and leadership development, said although board officials are proud that a public school - Belle River - topped the local list in ranking, they don't believe in a ranking system. She said they feel all their schools are great places to learn.
"In terms of the Fraser report, although we appreciate the information, we're just a little skeptical of the ranking of any schools. And it's a very narrow perspective," Howitt said. "I think the best way to determine the best way for learning for your children is to go and visit the school. It's not just about any one test. It's about the whole experience."
A highlight of the report each year is the top 20 fastest improving schools. Windsor's E.J. Lajeunesse ranked 14th and was the only local school that made it to this list. Lajeunesse saw most improvement in its math scores. The Fraser Institute's Thomas said the school is doing substantially above the provincial average in Grade 9 math, which is a real "success story."
While Lajeunesse ranked 321 on the list of 718, it received an overall rating of 6.4 out of 10, an improvement from the 5.4/10 it got five years ago.
Over the past five years, the Fraser Institute has determined that only one other school in the area besides Lajeunesse - Holy Names - is improving, while three schools in the area are declining - Essex, L'Essor and Forster.
Of all the 718 schools ranked, less than 10 per cent showed any improvement and less than 10 per cent showed any decline, meaning most schools had stable numbers over the past five years, Thomas said.
The top-ranked school in the province is St. Michael's Choir high school in Toronto with an overall rating of 9.6/10.
For more information and to see a full list of the province's school rankings, go to compareschoolrankings.org.
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Until next time...
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