The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

March 08, 2009 09:01 ET

Fraser Institute Report Card Shows Successful Schools in Alberta Aren't All Found in Wealthy Neighbourhoods

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - March 8, 2009) - Ten of the fastest improving elementary schools in Alberta are found in neighbourhoods that have among the lowest average parental incomes, according to the Fraser Institute's Report Card on Alberta's Elementary Schools 2009.

"Teachers and administrators in these schools have found ways to improve student results, regardless of their families' relatively modest average income," said Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies.

"This clearly shows that elementary schools don't need to be located in wealthy neighbourhoods to improve and be successful."

The 10 schools are: Ekota, Eastwood, and St. Elizabeth Seton, all in Edmonton; Chief Justice Milvain, Almadina, Terrace Road, and Abbeydale, all in Calgary; as well as Bassano Elementary in Bassano, Cremona Elementary in Cremona, and Clear Vista in Wetaskiwin.

Ekota in Edmonton showed the greatest improvement, going from an overall score of 4.0 in 2004 to 6.8 in 2008. Average family income for parents of students at Ekota is $54,333. Terrace Road in Calgary improved from an overall score of 2.8 in 2004 to 5.3 in 2008. Average income for parents of students at Terrace Road is $49,814. Edmonton's Eastwood, with an average family income of $38,682 improved its overall score to 2.4 from zero in 2004.

The average parental income for all Alberta elementary schools listed in the Fraser Institute Report Card is $80,025.

Cowley said critics of the Fraser Institute report card too often excuse a school's poor results by blaming them on socio-economic factors. By doing so, these critics are essentially writing off a student's chances of success based on a family's relatively low economic standing.

"Every school should ensure that all its students meet the provincial standard in reading, writing, and mathematics, no matter where the students lives or how much their parents earn," he said.

The Report Card on Alberta's Elementary Schools rates 715 public, private, separate and charter elementary schools from across Alberta based on seven key indicators derived from province-wide tests of language arts and mathematics skills administered by Alberta Education. The report card is available at www.fraserinstitute.org.

In addition to the average test results for each school, the report card includes the percentage of tests written by students who failed to meet provincial education ministry expectations, and details on whether the school's performance is improving or declining over time. The report card also includes data on the number of ESL, special needs, and French immersion students at each school and the average family income of the parents of the school's students to provide some context within which to analyze each school's results.

Parents consult the report card when they are choosing a school and use it as an annual audit of how their children's school is doing academically.

"Parents have repeatedly shown they value the ability to track the performance of their child's school and compare it to other schools," Cowley said.

"Our report card allows parents to quickly and easily determine if their child's school is improving or worsening academically."

Cowley points out that one purpose of the report card is to encourage schools to improve. Each report card contains enough data to allow for valid comparisons and for parents to ask school officials pertinent questions about a school's performance.

"Using the report card to compare a private school in a well-off Calgary or Edmonton neighbourhood to a small, rural public school may not be useful. But comparing schools that have similar characteristics within the same community can be important for parents and educators alike."

The complete Report Card on Alberta's Elementary Schools 2009, including detailed results on all 715 schools, is available as a free pdf at www.fraserinstitute.org.

Report card author Peter Cowley will be in Calgary and available for media interviews Sunday, March 8 and Monday, March 9.

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.

Contact Information