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Toronto secondary schools showing mixed progress: Fraser Institute report

Toronto secondary schools are among the highest ranked schools and lowest ranked schools in Ontario, according to the Fraser Institute's annual school report card. But as Erica Vella reports, there are some education experts who say school rankings are counterproductive.

According to the Fraser Institute’s annual ranking of secondary schools, Toronto schools are among the highest and lowest ranked in Ontario.

The list  – which looks at 740 Catholic and public schools in the province – shows Toronto school St. Michael’s Choir ranked first overall but Bendale Business and Technical Institute and Heydon Park Secondary School ranked among the lowest.

“The TDSB, they are down at 5.5 out of 10. The average is always six,” said Peter Cowley, director of school performance studies with the Fraser Institute.

“You can see you have some terrifically effective schools in some areas and not so much in others.”

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Fifty-nine schools across the province showed improvement in their overall ratings over the past five years while 51 showed declining scores, according to the Fraser Institute.

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“It’s an extraordinarily valuable report for parents who are interested in either choosing a school for their kids or when they have [a child] in a school, finding out how the school is doing on an ongoing basis,” Cowley said.

READ MORE: Ontario schools are missing ‘perfect opportunity’ to address mental health amid rash of youth suicides

The rankings are determined by the results of the grade nine EQAO math test and grade 10 literacy test.

The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) said in a statement, “While we always welcome news of improvements among our many schools, these rankings look at just one aspect of the success of a school.

“We believe that the success of a school goes beyond standardized test results.”

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C.W. Jefferys at Jane St. and Finch Ave. ranked as the most improved school in the GTA, but no school in Toronto or in the surrounding area found itself in the top-10 of most improved in Ontario

“They [C.W. Jefferys] moved from a three out of 10 … to 4.9 over that four-year period which is a terrific improvement,” Cowley said.

READ MORE: TDSB diverts $61M from provincial funding grant for marginalized students: report

Annie Kidder, executive director of People for Education said however that the results are not a reflection of how teens do once they leave high school.

“I think that is what is the problem with using just reading, writing and math measures as the measure of success,” she said.

“If we look at the world right now, it’s not going to be enough to read, write and do math. There is a lot more to success than that.”

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“Using data is incredibly important… but understanding what we are doing in a much more broader way is important. Just making simplistic lists ranking schools does not help the conversation,” Kidder said.