The Fraser Institute has released its yearly report on B.C.'s elementary schools, and like previous years, private schools seem to top the list when it comes to reading and writing proficiency, as far as Surrey and Delta are concerned.
The institute rated 853 public and independent schools based on a number of academic indicators using data from the annual Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA), which measures reading, writing and numeracy skills tested at both the Grade 4 and Grade 7 level.
Additionally, scores are also affected by gender gaps, the number of students scoring below expectation and the percentage of tests not written.
Because of this, many have dismissed the rankings as not truly representing a school's true potential, as things such as the numbers of ESL or special needs students are not taken into account for scoring, despite being listed as a statistic for said school.
Simon Fraser University education professor Dan Laitsch would prefer the tests be ignored for that very reason.
"Of the top 10 schools, only one has any students in ESL or special education, which is the only public school," he says.
"My reading is that when schools can selectively admit students based on testing, personal interviews and individual observational assessments (as every independent school in the top 10 does), then their students tend to perform better on similar tests, giving the school an artificially high ranking."
For 2012, W. E. Kinvig was ranked as the lowest-scoring elementary school in Surrey with 2/10, while private school Southridge in South Surrey scored a perfect 10/10 for the fifth straight year.
When reached for a comment, Surrey school district spokesperson Doug Strachan provided the following statement.
"The Surrey Board of Education shares concerns about the Fraser Institute's use of the Foundation Skills Assessment results. However, the board's experience has been that the results of FSA testing provide valuable information that assists in decision-making regarding priorities and allocation of resources at both the school and district levels to assist in supporting student learning.
"On balance, the board believes the tests are important and should be pursued while efforts continue to educate parents and others about the limits of the Fraser Institute's use of the data and the risks in relying on its reports to evaluate schools."
HOW DELTA SCHOOLS SCORED
None of Delta's public schools cracked the top 100 in the Fraser Institute's latest rankings of elementary schools, but a local private school tied for top spot.
Southpointe Academy in Tsawwassen was not only the top Delta school, but it was in a 12-way tie for number one overall in B.C.
The private school finished with a perfect 10 rating for the year, while compiling an overall five-year rating of 9.4.
The school was also ranked among the fastest improving in the province.
Headmaster Dean Croy said the success of Southpointe, which is also home to a secondary school, is due to small class sizes, motivated and engaged students, and high quality teaching.
The next two from Delta on the Fraser Institute's list, Immaculate Conception (44th) and Sacred Heart Elementary (55th), are both private schools. Rated at 104th overall, Ladner's Neilson Grove was the top ranked Delta public school.
Delegates at the annual general meeting of the B.C. School Trustees' Association last year voted in favour of calling for changes to the standardized FSA tests in order to stop the Fraser Institute from ranking elementary schools. The school trustees also agreed their association should work with the B.C. Teachers' Federation to develop a different assessment tool for reading, writing and math.