The Fraser Institute has released its annual B.C. secondary school rankings and David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) did not fare well.
The school earned an overall rating of 5.2 out of 10, down significantly from last year’s 6.0. DTSS is now barely hanging on to a yellow classification from the Fraser Institute, given to schools that earn an overall rating of between 7.4 and 5.0. The yellow classification is considered the mark of a good school, according to the Fraser Institute.
DTSS was below average during the 2013-2014 academic year in most of the institute’s categories. Across the province the average overall rating for secondary schools was 6.0.
The average provincial exam mark achieved by students in Grade 10 to Grade 12 was 69.5 per cent. At DTSS, students averaged 67.8 per cent on provincial exams.
Only 92.2 per cent of Grade 12 students graduated from DTSS last year, which was the lowest graduation rate the school has observed in more than five years. The provincial average was 95.7 per cent.
The Rocky Mountain School District runs three secondary schools, including DTSS. Golden Secondary in Golden earned an overall rating of 5.0, an average provincial exam score of 64.1 per cent and a graduation rate of 96 per cent.
Selkirk Secondary School in Kimberly did much better than its peers. The school earned an overall rating of 7.2, an average provincial exam score of 70.3 per cent and a graduation rate of 100 per cent.
In response to the Fraser Institute’s rankings, many have voiced strong criticism, alleging that the rankings promote the privatization of education. Only two public schools ranked in the top 25. University Hill at UBC led the way in 19th place.
B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker has publicly announced that the rankings are divisive and put unnecessary pressure on teachers and students.
Earlier this year, the Fraser Institute’s rankings for elementary schools in B.C. were released. Invermere’s J. Alfred Laird Elementary earned an overall rating of 6.1, beating the provincial average by 0.1.
Paul Carriere, the superintendent of Rocky Mountain School District, said he urges schools such as DTSS and J. Alfred Laird to ignore Fraser Institute’s rankings.
“I’m really proud of the work school teams do, day in and day out,” Carriere said. “We are engaged in the work of improving outcomes for each learner. In that context, an external ranking of schools is unhelpful. Therefore, we pay no attention to Fraser Institute rankings.”
Carriere said the school district is concerned with improving graduation rates and test scores locally, rather than focusing on beating schools from other districts.
“As a system, we pay attention to all the information we have about student achievement and set goals and targets for improvement,” Carriere said. “We monitor progress and adjust as we go.”