By Adam Jackson
In the annual report released by the Fraser Institute, institutions that make up Wolf Creek Public Schools received close to a failing grade.
But superintendent of schools Larry Jacobs doesn’t see much truth in the study.
“What I want to know is where they get their information from,” said Jacobs.
The Fraser Institute was contacted but was unable to comment by press time.
Schools in the Wolf Creek division received an average of 58.8 out of a possible 100 for the total score for the 2009/2010 school year. Mirror High School, in Alix, had the lowest score at 3.2 out of 10, making it the 18th worst high school in Alberta, while Rimbey Junior/Senior High School took the top rank in the school division with a score of 6.7. Ponoka Composite High School finished with a six out of a possible 10.
“It’s so hard to even know about the Fraser Institute,” said Jacobs. “I’ve never paid much attention to it because it’s not a very comprehensive document.”
The grades assigned are based on several different aspects of the school’s success, including average exam mark, diploma completion rate and delayed advancement rate.
For average exam mark, Alix is at the bottom of the pack with a score of just over 56 per cent, while Lacombe Composite High School leads the division with a score of 65 per cent. The Alberta high school average is 64 per cent. Ponoka Composite High School was able to raise the average exam mark by nearly four per cent from last year, finishing at 63.5 per cent, just under the average.
“There are so many indicators that you have to look at and that’s probably why the Fraser Institute isn’t looked at very seriously,” said Jacobs. “It wouldn’t tell you if you’re teaching through combined classes, or if you’re doing classes through distance learning, class sizes, nothing like that.”
Jacobs uses the example of a split Grade 3 and 4 class, where the teacher would have less time to spend helping the Grade 3 students, whose provincial achievement tests are reflected in the final grade.
“That kind of puts a different look on the study,” said Jacobs.
“We’ve never used the same indicators as them at all, except for the PAT scores,” said Jacobs. “Most of the indicators that we look at are not built into the same model.”
One particular indicator that Jacobs is perplexed by is the delayed advancement rate percentage.
“I’m not even sure what that means,” said Jacobs.
“Sometimes kids just take more time to complete. That’s one thing that we track as a province, but I’m not sure if that’s the same thing that they are looking at.”
Full scores for Wolf Creek Public Schools are available at www.compareschoolrankings.org.