The Fraser Institute recently released its report card on Ontario elementary schools. The rankings are based on the standardized test results in reading, writing and math for Grade 3 and Grade 6 students. The Fraser Institute also factors in things like the gender gap in test scores.
The results for Aidan’s school were not promising:
Out of 2,786 schools in the province, Manor Park placed 2,668
Out of 166 schools in the city, Manor Park was in the bottom seven
The results aren’t really a surprise. Manor Park has consistently been in the bottom 10% of the rankings for several years. In fact, if you look at the overall rankings, there’s very little movement up and down the list. Schools at the top of the list do well year after year, and schools at the bottom tend to linger there. You don’t see schools rocketing from the bottom to the top in one year as the result of some revolutionary new teaching method – it’s all baby steps.
I recognize that the very concept of ranking schools and standardized tests is controversial. The rankings do not indicate whether students are happy, or parents’ overall level of satisfaction. There are also a number of social, economic, and cultural factors that come into play. I mean, is it really that surprising that schools at the top of the list are in the most desirable (and richest) neighbourhoods in the city?
I try not to place too much importance on the rankings. After all, when my parents were getting ready to send me off to kindergarten in 1977, they certainly weren’t thinking about whether Centennial Public School had a good reputation for academics. Without all of this scrutiny, our schools still turned out a pretty good group of kids.
At this point, I’m not going to worry that Aidan’s school appears to have some long-standing issues. He’s learning a lot, he seems happy, and the after school program is great. It is a reminder, though, that within the city there are significant differences between the haves and have-nots, and it’s troubling that some kids face a difficult path right from the start.