EDITORIAL: Squamish’s school rankings

The Fraser Institute’s controversial ranking of elementary schools cause resentment among many educators and are dismissed by a good portion of parents but, nonetheless, they are a hot topic of conversation among Squamish residents.

Released last week, the annual scores out of 10 are based on province-wide test results in reading, writing and math written by students in Grades 4 and 7. 

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For Squamish, the 2015/2016 school year results are:

Garibaldi Highlands Elementary – 6.5

Valleycliffe Elementary – 6.1

Squamish Elementary – 5.8

Brackendale Elementary – 5.2

Mamquam Elementary – 4.9

(A score of 6 is the average in B.C.) 

Besides Squamish Elementary, our local school rankings fell a bit from the previous year, in line with the trend of slight fluctuations each year. 

But will changes in B.C.’s curriculum, where personalized learning is the main focus, cause even bigger changes in the ranking next year? The new curriculum was implemented this year in all schools, meaning we don’t completely know the answer to this question. 

The new guidelines “help students learn by exploring their interests and passions. Whether its computers, hockey or art, passion is a motivator for students, and students can connect with their interests to excel in the classroom,” the provincial government’s website explains. 

The foundation of the new curriculum is “essential learning,” literacy and math skills, with a focus on communication, thinking and personal and social competency, as well as flexible learning environments. 

Will this way of teaching help or hinder students on the annual province-wide test, the Foundation Skills Assessment? Will students be more engaged with learning, thus improving their achievement? Or will the switch from traditional testing make it more difficult. Only time will tell. 

And do parents really care about these rankings? Many say they don’t tell the whole story and even the Fraser Institute says that these numbers aren’t the reason to choose a particular school. Instead, the institute says it’s best to check out the school’s website and talk to the principal, teachers and other parents. 

But still we’re all talking about the report. It’s just important to remember there are other important measures of a good school – the teachers, students and fellow parents, for example. 

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@ Copyright Squamish Chief

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