Nanaimo Christian School was singled out in the Fraser Institute’s elementary school report card this year as one of the top 20 fastest-improving schools in the province.
The think tank’s report, released this week, compares a school’s performance over time and with other schools and the rankings are based on 10 key indicators using data from the Foundation Skills Assessment, a set of provincially mandated tests administered to Grades 4 and 7 students each year.
This year, private schools Aspengrove and Nanaimo Christian top the list for the Nanaimo area and public schools in the Harewood area come out on the bottom.
About half a dozen schools are missing from the report card, which requires data from a minimum of 15 students in each grade for all three of the FSA tests in reading, writing and numeracy, and, as in previous years, the majority of the Nanaimo schools included in the report fall in the bottom half of the rankings.
Darren Spyksma, Nanaimo Christian School’s vice-president of teacher development and learning, said while it is nice to be recognized, the school’s focus is on developing the whole child with an emphasis on leadership, not just the one specific area of academics that the rankings are based on.
“It’s great to get this positive affirmation, but it’s a snapshot,” he said. “The FSA is one of many markers we use to track growth over time. It measures certain skills and abilities. The rankings do not affect our programming.”
Nanaimo school district officials don’t pay much attention at all to the report card.
“We really just don’t find them of any use and don’t think it’s worth a huge discussion,” said spokeswoman Donna Reimer. “We don’t think it will tell parents how their child will do in a school. They don’t take into consideration all the factors that make a difference for students at a school.”
She said the focus of the district’s strategic plan is on improving students’ learning outcomes and the Fraser Institute’s report card is not relevant to that work.
Peter Cowley, the Fraser Institute’s director of school performance studies, said the rankings were designed for parents, to help them make a more informed decision when choosing a school or advocate for change at their child’s school.
“It’s intended to answer one question really: in general, how is this school doing academically compared to other schools?” he said.