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Fraser Institute gives Whistler secondary high marks

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It’s not only kids who might look with some trepidation at receiving their report cards – schools are now also finding out how well they score on the Fraser Institute’s academic education ratings.

And within the Howe Sound School District, Whistler secondary performed among the province’s best.

The Report Card on British Columbia’s Secondary Schools: 2001 Edition uses academic data to rate 281 of the province’s public and independent secondary schools. This is the fourth year the annual report has been published in B.C. by The Fraser Institute, an independent public policy organization based in Vancouver. However, statistics have been calculated since the 1992/93 school year. Each school is rated on a scale of zero to 10, based on the following seven indicators of school performance.

1. Average provincial examination mark.

2. Percentage of provincial exams failed.

3. The difference between the school mark and exam mark in provincially examinable courses.

4. The difference between male and female students in the value of indicator (3) for English 12 only.

5. The difference between male and female students in the value of indicator (3) for Mathematics 12 only

6. Provincially examinable course taken per student.

7. Graduation rate.

Whistler, Pemberton and Howe Sound secondaries all showed improved overall ratings compared to 2000, respectively scoring 7.4, 4.1 and 5.8 out of a possible 10. In terms of a provincial ratings, The Fraser Institute ranks Whistler Secondary 37th out of 281 schools, Pemberton 261st and Howe Sound 170th for the 1999/2000 accreditation school year.

While long term trends were not available for Whistler or Pemberton Secondaries, Howe Sound Secondary showed improvement at least over the past 12 months for the number of exams taken per student and English 12 participation rate versus the province.

Peter Cowley, co-author and the director of school performance studies at The Fraser Institute, says the data provide a long term insight into a school’s performance.

"Because they are based on annually generated data, we can assess not only each school’s performance in a year but also its improvement or deterioration over time."

The Report Card has been criticized in the past by teachers and education administrators who feel it is too narrow in focus and fails to look at skills beyond academia.

However, the report authors have defended its content, saying: "It is taxpayers and not only the parents of today’s students who foot the bill for the education of the next generation. As long as this is the case, taxpayers should have easy access to reports about the effectiveness of every school in all the areas for which funding is provided."

Cowley says new features planned for the 2002 edition of the Report Card include the results of the ministry’s Annual Foundation Skills Assessment Tests and a measure of student attendance.

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