Myrtle Philip school 'fast-rising' star of rankings 

The Fraser Institute publishes its controversial report card of elementary and high schools

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Myrtle Philip Community School in Whistler is one of the stars in this year's Fraser Institute Report Card of B.C.'s elementary schools.

As one of the "fastest improving" elementary schools in the province, it was singled out for special mention when the think tank's latest rankings were made public on Monday (Feb. 6). The school scored 8.8 out of 10, up from 7.8 in previous years, making it 54th out of 860 schools in B.C.

The Fraser Institute uses the results of Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) exams taken by pupils in Grades 4 and 7. The FSAs assess pupils' reading, writing and math abilities.

Sharon Broatch, the principal of Myrtle Philip, said all her students made her proud, not just the two grades that had made the marked improvement in the school's ranking possible.

"We're proud of the progress our school has made over the last five years. I think it's important to think of it as a bigger picture, over the five year term," she said.

"I am really proud of the direction our school's going — teachers are working hard and we've created a focus on literacy, in particular, and numeracy and social responsibility as well. I think we're educating considerate, responsible community members."

Spring Creek Community School in Whistler scored 6.4 out of 10, while Pemberton's Signal Hill Elementary scored five out of 10. Only two of Squamish's elementary schools were in the rankings. Valleycliffe Elementary scored 7.1 out of 10, and Squamish Elementary scored 4.7 out of 10.

Lisa McCullough, the superintendent of Sea to Sky School District #48, questioned the value of the controversial report card.

"School to school comparisons are difficult to respond to as they serve no meaningful, nor ethical purpose," said McCullough.

"We are proud of all of our students' achievements and progress. We are also proud of our teachers and their ongoing efforts to support their students and families through the learning process over the years."

McCullough described the FSA results, on which the Fraser Institute bases its rankings, as "merely a 'snapshot' of student performance that must be 'triangulated' with other information collected by teachers and schools in order to have any meaning."

School planning councils and districts should compare and contrast data from multiple sources, and do so over time, she explained. Viewing the FSA results in isolation was a mistake.

The context by which each school operates is essential to understanding how well students do, she added.

"We do not support the rating or ranking of schools based on FSA results. The annual provincial FSA test may provide valuable information on student learning, but merely as one measure of student performance," she said.

"School rankings based solely on FSA scores... fail to account for contextual factors such as demographics, location, school programming as well as some of the various features that characterize individual schools and school populations."

This information creates a broader picture of achievement and better informs those driving dialogue and action to improve education in the Sea to Sky School District, McCullough said.

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