Take school rankings with grain of salt: Sacher


CARSTAIRS-CREMONA – The latest Fraser Institute rankings have been released and both Hugh Sutherland School in Carstairs and Cremona Elementary School rank near the bottom for both Chinook’s Edge School Division and the province as a whole.

Ross Ford Elementary School in Didsbury and Olds Elementary School did not appear in the rankings due to only going to Grade 4.

Chinook’s Edge School Division superintendent Kurt Sacher said the Fraser Institute rankings can help provide some guidance, but are missing some important elements of schooling.

“You have to take some of that data with a grain of salt,” said Sacher. “We’ll certainly take a look at it. Hugh Sutherland for example, on all the provincial indicators we have, is a top performing school in the province.

“Our big position is that when we look at schools across the division we do look at the provincial indicators such as provincial achievement exams. They are very important data indicators for us. We analyze them and debrief.”

The Fraser Institute rankings compare schools in academics using objective, publicly-available data such as average scores on provincewide tests, according to its website.

Schools do not appear if the institute does not receive enough data from the Ministry of Education. The reason for this is that they must have student results data from provincewide testing that is conducted in grades 3 and 6.

Of nine schools eligible in Chinook’s Edge, Cremona placed eighth with a 2015-16 rating of 4.9 and a ranking of 607th out of 790 schools across the province, and Hugh Sutherland placed seventh with a 2015-16 rating of 5.4 and a ranking of 524th out of 790.

Cremona’s ranking dropped from 7.5 in 2015. Hugh Sutherland did not receive a ranking in 2015.

At the top of the list for Chinook’s Edge was Olds Koinonia (rated 8.2 and ranked 58th provincewide). Sundre was third with 7.8 and 110/790, while Bowden Grandview was sixth with 6.5 and 332/790.

Sacher said they are constantly looking at ways to improve schools regardless of where they might rank.

“The other key thing is there are so many other factors involved in whether a school is doing really well or not doing really well,” said Sacher.

“There is the whole context of the school and the community. There are other factors — so much of the work done in schools can’t be measured in a provincial achievement exam or diploma exam.”

Sacher said they look for patterns and trends and try to learn from the results they get from the province each year.

“But we take a growth approach,” he said. “We don’t believe in trying to embarrass a particular school by using some form of a ranking system.

“To try to do that on one specific item that doesn’t represent everything that happens in a school. Schools are so complex. There are so many facets that make a good school.”

“Our big position is that when we look at schools across the division we do look at the provincial indicators such as provincial achievement exams.”Kurt SacherChinook’s Edge superintendent


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Craig Lindsay

Craig Lindsay is a reporter with the Mountain View Gazette who joined the newspaper in 2016. He covers news, sports and community events in Didsbury, Carstairs and Cremona. He is a photographer and columnist as well.