A private school is the top Nanaimo educational institution in Fraser Institute’s high school ranking list, but some question the value of rating schools altogether.
In the policy institute’s latest provincial secondary school report card, which considers data such as provincial exam results, grade progression and graduation rates, Nanaimo Christian School ranked the highest among Nanaimo-area schools, 23rd out of 252 B.C. schools.
Among Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools, Nanaimo District Secondary was tied for 50th, Dover Bay tied for 63rd, John Barsby tied for 191st, Cedar and Wellington are tied at 201st and Ladysmith Secondary was tied for 209th.
Stephanie Higginson, B.C. School Trustees Association president and Nanaimo-Ladysmith school trustee, didn’t want to comment specifically on the rankings, but did question their significance.
“BCSTA is opposed to the ranking of schools,” Higginson told the News Bulletin. “It serves absolutely no educational value. There is no research that shows ranking schools improves student achievement.”
James Sijpheer, Nanaimo Christian School principal, said the rankings present an opportunity for schools to try to better themselves.
“I think if we look at them only at a one-year metric, then I don’t see the value being as great, but if we look at it over a three- to five-year [period], it can help us to identify certain patterns or trends in areas that we would want to improve,” Sijpheer said. “But just because student populations can change so drastically from year to year, a great result one year might not necessarily be a great result the next year because the student population is that different, especially in a smaller school like ours.”
Critics of the rankings note that private schools fare better than public schools, but Sijpheer said he doesn’t feel caught in the middle as an independent school administrator. Students in B.C. are getting a good education regardless of what system they’re enrolled in, he said.
“The approach we’ve taken, from a school standpoint, is that we actually don’t educate our teachers at all on the rankings,” said Sijpheer. “We don’t prioritize the rankings in how we approach our curriculum instruction and preparing kids for any type of assessment and so when they come out, we’re always curious to see where we’ve landed, but I know there are teachers working hard in independent schools and in public schools and I think we have a great education system in B.C. overall.
“I don’t feel kids are disadvantaged in either school or more advantaged in either school. I think teachers are working hard and preparing kids well.”