Several elementary schools in Alberta have seen “alarming” declines in performance over the past four years, according to the 2017 Report Card on Alberta’s Elementary Schools.
The report card, conducted by Fraser Institute, looked at 790 public, separate, francophone, independent and charter schools in the province, and ranked them based on seven different academic indicators.
“Our annual report card takes stock of how schools perform year over year, so parents can quickly see if there are problems that should be corrected,” said co-author and director of school performance studies Peter Cowley.
According to the institute, 31 schools saw their performance ratings decline in four years, with the most notable changes being noted at Bassano Public School, located between Calgary and Medicine Hat, and Calgary’s St. Cyril Catholic School.
Bassano public school declined from a rating of 6.9 out of 10 to 1.6 out of 10 — the province’s biggest decline.
A close second was St. Cyril Catholic, which dropped from 8.8 to 2.6. St. Albert’s Father Jan school saw a decline from 7.1 to 4.7 out of 10 in the same four-year period.
Schools with high special needs, ESL populations see increase
In the same period, though, 52 Alberta schools saw increases in productivity — including those with high percentages of students with special needs or are English Second Language (ESL) students.
Our Lady of Peace School in Calgary — where 34.1 per cent of their students speak English as their second language and 16.6 per cent of their students are special-needs students — saw performance increase from 6.8 to 8.7 between 2012 and 2016.
In Edmonton, Elmwood public school’s performance rating also increased, from 4.7 to 6.7. More than 40 per cent of students at that school have special needs, the institute reports.
How are the schools ranked?
The Fraser Institute used seven academic indicators to rank the elementary schools, based on data on students’ performance gathered from Alberta Education.
- Average achievement-test marks in Grade 6 language arts
- Average achievement-test marks in Grade 6 math
- Average achievement-test marks in Grade 6 science
- Average achievement-test marks in Grade 6 social studies
- The percentage on achievement tests in language, math, science and social studies that were below the acceptable standard
- The difference between male and female students in the average achievement-test results in Grade 6 language arts
- The difference between male and female students in the average achievement-test results in Grade 6 math
The institute says the seven indicators “provide systematic insight into a school’s performance,” due to the fact they’re based on yearly data, allowing them to show a school’s performance for a given year, but also show its decline or improvement.
The schools are also ranked in order, from one to 783, based on their rank in 2015/2016, as well as their rating over the past five years. The list also shows whether each school’s rating has trended up, down, or stayed the same.
The report doesn’t include all Alberta elementary schools: some schools in divisions and districts that have middle or junior high schools don’t enroll Grade 6 students in elementary school, so those schools were not included. Schools with fewer than 10 children enrolled in either Grade 3 or 6 also weren’t included.
With files from Heide Pearson / Global News