The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

March 21, 2010 08:34 ET

Fraser Institute Releases Alberta Elementary School Report Card and New Interactive Website Allowing Parents to Compare Academic Performance of Local Schools

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - March 21, 2010) - The Fraser Institute, one of Canada's leading public policy think-tanks, today released its annual report card on Alberta elementary schools, an invaluable tool for comparing the academic performance of schools across the province.

"The report card is the only easily accessible, objective tool that helps parents assess the performance of their child's school," said Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies.

In tandem with the report card, the Institute launched a new interactive website, www.compareschoolrankings.org, featuring easy-to-use tools for comparing the performance of 642 English and French, public, separate, private, and charter elementary schools from across Alberta based on eight key indicators derived from provincewide tests of reading, writing, math, and science skills that are administered by Alberta Education, the provincial ministry of education.

"This high-powered website makes comparing schools even more convenient. You can compare up to five schools at once based on specific academic measurements such as the number of students not meeting provincial standards in reading, writing, math, and science. You can also see whether academic performance at a school is improving or declining," Cowley said.

In addition, the website allows educators and parents to compare Alberta schools based on key demographic factors such as parental income and percentage of ESL students enrolled. The website also generates graphic, downloadable charts displaying the results.

"These detailed results provide parents with the information they need to ask school principals and teachers important questions about how their child's school is performing," Cowley said.

Parents have shown significant interest in having the ability to track and compare the performance of their children's schools. In 2009 alone, visitors to the Fraser Institute's website requested nearly 90,000 tables of detailed results for individual Alberta elementary schools.

The complete Report Card on Alberta's Elementary Schools 2010 can also be downloaded as a free PDF at www.fraserinstitute.org or www.compareschoolrankings.org.

Detailed results of the 2010 report card are also available in the Calgary Herald and the Edmonton Sun.

School comparison

Each report card contains enough data to allow for valid comparisons among schools and Cowley reiterated that the idea of the report card is to encourage schools to improve.

School district administrators can also benefit from analyzing the report card's results. For example, analysis of district-wide results reveals stark contrasts in academic achievement across Alberta. Calgary Roman Catholic Separate School District, for example, has an average overall rating of 6.7 out of 10, based on the performance of its 63 schools. This district is performing well ahead of Edmonton Catholic Separate School District (53 schools in total, averaging an overall rating of 5.8), Edmonton School District (121 schools in total, averaging an overall rating of 5.7), and Calgary School District (97 schools in total, averaging an overall rating of 5.9).

"School and district administrators should be looking for the source of this academic disparity among school districts. Why is Calgary Roman Catholic Separate School District performing better than other districts? What are its teachers doing and what can others learn from their experience?" Cowley said.

"Every school has the responsibility to provide its students, regardless of their personal characteristics or family background, with the academic skills they need to be successful. The Fraser Institute report card is the only source for parents and educators to quickly and easily determine how their local schools are doing compared to the provincial average, and compared to one another."

Cowley will be in Calgary and available for in-person interviews on Sunday, March 21.

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The Fraser Institute is an independent research and educational organization with locations across North America and partnerships in more than 70 countries. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit www.fraserinstitute.org.

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