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Local schools maintain average in annual rankings

Schools in the townships are largely holding steady in the current edition of the Fraser Institute’s annual ranking of Ontario’s elementary schools.

The Fraser Institute has come out with its elementary school rankings for the 2011-2012 school year showing steadiness and some growth in Woolwich and Wellesley Township school standings.

Eight Woolwich and Wellesley township schools were assessed using the most recent scores compiled by the province’s Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) in tests of reading, writing and mathematics.

Peter Cowley, director of school performance studies at the institute, said though the rankings aid parents in choosing the right school for their kids the study does not take many other important aspects of school, such as athletics, into account. In analyzing the results, it’s important to look at five-years of data on the schools as marks tend to vary from year to year, he added.

As an example, Elmira’s St. Teresa of Avila Catholic School ranked an 8.2 last year but received a 5.7 this year, which is closer to its average rating of about 6.0 in the last five years, Cowley explained.

With an average of 6.0 for all 2,714 of Ontario’s schools included in the study, three local schools have performed above the standard in the past few years: St. Jacobs PS scored a 7.7, while St. Clement Catholic school came in at a 7.3 this year, reflective of its past rankings, and Conestogo PS received a 7.0.

With the exception of Wellesley PS, Cowley says there has been little significant change in local schools’ EQAO standing in the past five years. This year Floradale PS received a 5.5, Breslau received a 5.3 and Linwood received the lowest of local scores at 5.0.

Wellesley PS is on the road to solid academic improvement, according to the Fraser Institute. Up from a 4.0 in 2008 Wellesley has earned a 5.4 over the last three years.

Cowley said that the institute’s results are up to each individual school and parent to interpret and gauge whether or not the scores are as important as other aspects of academic development. He also noted that rankings don’t take into account the number of special needs or ESL kids at each school, factors that may affect EQAO test scores.

To that end, local school boards do not put much stock in the institute’s findings, painting them as incomplete and misleading.

“We are proud of all of our staff and students who work very hard to achieve success not only in reading, writing, and math, but with critical thinking, problem-solving, and character development,” stated Waterloo Region District School Board superintendent of education Mary Lou Mackie in a release.

At the Catholic board, chief managing officer John P. Shewchuk explained that while EQAO tests provide key data for educators, findings by the Fraser Institute are not used or referenced by the board.

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