E-learning brings Calculus to high schools 

Drop in Fraser institute rankings not cause for concern

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"This has enormous potential," said Vernon-Jarvis. "It will get kids attention."

Meanwhile Whistler Secondary students did very well on January’s provincial exams said Principal Bev Oakley.

"In English 10 and Science 10 we had zero failures so all the students who took the exams passed them and that is significant," she said.

The failure rate across the province was 22 per cent for Science 10.

However, the school did fall dramatically in this year’s Fraser Institute rankings of high schools in B.C.

Last year the school was 46th out of 282 schools. This year it was 144 out of 281.

While the change may be surprising the Fraser Institute’s Peter Cowley says it is not statistically significant.

"The way we look at it (this year) may be an anomaly," he said.

"There is nothing to suggest that there is a downward slide here."

Indeed Whistler Secondary has consistently done well in the rankings, which most consider a snapshot of how the school is doing academically.

Oakley said the drop is due in part to the number of students who do their graduating year over two years to satisfy outside interests such as elite sports, and to a significant event at the school that impacted the number of Grade 12 students who did provincial exams.

"It is a blip in an otherwise stellar performance," said Oakley.

"I certainly would be concerned if we had three years of low scores but I don’t expect we will have the same scores next year.

"There are so many things going on in school that can’t necessarily be boiled down into a numerical nutshell. It really is so complex. Public education is really doing very well here in Whistler.

"And the (Fraser Institute report) is just one very small part of the picture."

Recent research by UBC education associate professor Kadriye Ercikan shows that the rankings can be predicted with 85 per cent accuracy just looking at socioeconomic factors of the students.

She calls into question the weight given the rankings.

"The key assumption in this interpretation is that the school rankings are meaningful indictors of school quality," she said.

"Even though the Fraser Institute has been publishing their report card on schools for many years now, they have failed to provide any empiric evidence that their rankings are in fact indicators of quality education."

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