The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

March 07, 2010 06:30 ET

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

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 7, 2010) - The Fraser Institute, one of Canada's leading public policy think-tanks, today released its annual report card on Ontario 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.

The report card measures whether academic performance in a school is improving or declining. It allows parents to compare schools based on key demographic factors such as parental income or number of ESL students, and it shows the number of students not meeting provincial standards in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

"These detailed results provide parents with the information they need to ask the principal at their children's school important questions about a school's performance," Cowley said.

"In the spirit of encouraging academic excellence, the report card also offers educators the ability to compare the academic performance of their school to others with similar characteristics, helping them identify areas in which improvement can be made."

The Report Card on Ontario's Elementary Schools 2010 rates 2,742 English and French, public, and Catholic elementary schools from across Ontario based on nine key indicators derived from provincewide tests of reading, writing, and mathematics skills administered by the province's Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO). A number of private schools are also included.

Launched in tandem with the report card, the new website features easy-to-use interactive tools for comparing the performance of schools included in the report card. The complete report card can also be downloaded free of charge from

"Parents have shown significant interest in having the ability to track and compare the performance of their children's schools," Cowley said.

"In 2009 alone, visitors to the Fraser Institute's website requested 340,000 tables of detailed results for individual Ontario elementary schools."

Detailed school-by-school results of the 2010 report card are also available in the Toronto Sun, the Ottawa Citizen, and Osprey-owned newspapers across the province.

School comparison

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

For example, Toronto elementary schools Hillcrest and Cherokee share many characteristics.

Both are public schools, Hillcrest with 32 Grade 6 students and Cherokee with 25. Both schools have 28 per cent of their students with special needs. Neither school has ESL students.

While these student characteristics are very similar, Hillcrest parents have an average annual income of $108,400, while Cherokee parents have an average annual income of just $46,500.

"Opponents of school comparison would say it's unfair to compare these schools because Hillcrest is located in a higher-income neighbourhood and that gives its students an academic advantage," Cowley said.

But the data show that's not the case. Cherokee scores 8.7 in the report card, having averaged a ranking of 177 out of 2,347 on the Fraser Institute report card over the past five years; Hillcrest scores 3.7, having averaged a ranking of 997 out of 2,347 over the same period—more than 800 spots behind Cherokee. In addition, results from 2009 EQAO exams show that 18.2 per cent of Cherokee students did not meet provincial standards while 28.7 per cent of Hillcrest students did not meet provincial standards.

"This is a stark contrast in academic achievement and one parents and educators should find disconcerting. Why is the lower-income school performing better than the higher-income school? What are teachers at Cherokee doing and what can other teachers 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."

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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

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