OUR VIEW: Parents can’t live on FSAs alone

The Fraser Institute released its school ranking report cards last week and Boundary Central Secondary (BCSS) ranked 54 out of 274 for 2009/10 while Grand Forks Secondary (GFSS) ranked 164.

BCSS also received a rating of 7.2 out of 10 while GFSS received a 5.6 but that doesn’t mean that the Midway high school is better than its Grand Forks counterpart.

The report cards are compiled using results from the provincially mandated Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) tests that were administered in March and are the cause of controversy.

While the institute’s rankings could be used by some to measure which school is better and worse – and inevitably by parents to decide which school to send their children to – there are a number of things to take into consideration with the report card.

It’s not always the best decision to use one source, including the report card, as the sole criteria for deciding where to send a child to school, and it is best to get information from more than one source when making such an important decision.

The report is compiled by an organization that some have referred to as a right wing think tank and everyone doesn’t necessarily share their views.

The Fraser Institute even discourages people from using the report card as the single determining factor for school selection, stating that it is a tool and should be used together with visits and discussions with staff, their child and parents of students.

The school district and the teachers’ union aren’t holding much credence in the Fraser Institute’s high school rankings either.

SD51 Superintendent Michael Strukoff told the Grand Forks Gazette that while the district does acknowledge that the rankings are released, it doesn’t use them in any way while Boundary District Teachers’ Association President Norm Sabourin disagrees with the way the FSAs are administered.

Sabourin says the tests are not necessary, are cumbersome and can be stressful for students and ultimately don’t help students learn anything.

Another criticism of the FSA is that it doesn’t take into account other notable academic areas such as science, as it focuses strictly on reading comprehension, writing and math and does not take into account a school’s ability to help children with learning disabilities and also doesn’t measure how a school enables its students to think critically.

Like high school, the Fraser Institute report cards seem more like a popularity contest.

– The Grand Forks Gazette