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Fraser Institute secondary school rankings causes controversy

Updated: June 19, 2013
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Once again the annual Fraser Institute secondary school report is causing controversy. This year Education professor Daniel Laitsch commented in a bunch of articles discussing the validity of these rankings.

Vancouver Sun (June 18)

"Critics say the Fraser Institute report card is too narrowly focused and gives too much advantage to independent schools, which decide who can attend.

'The formula used to rank schools inherently favours schools with competitive admissions standards, while penalizing schools working with students achieving at a variety of levels,' said Daniel Laitsch, Simon Fraser University associate education professor. 'It’s a very incomplete picture of what might be happening at any particular school.'"

Read the entire Vancouver Sun article here: http://bit.ly/15gLaEW

Burnaby News Leader (June 18)

"Daniel Laitsch, associate professor of education at Simon Fraser University said of the rankings, 'I don't think they're a whole lot of use when we're talking about the school-quality conversation.'

The formula used in the rankings favours private schools which grant admission at least partly based on students' scores on standardized tests, Laitsch said. 'Certainly for the way the Fraser Institute calculates things, independent schools have a statistical advantage because they do have that competitive admission process.'

As for how parents can best determine what school is best for their child, he suggested they speak with a school's principal and see if it's a friendly, comfortable place to be.

'It's one of those things where we would like to have an easy answer, but really there is no easy answer other than taking the time to go and experience the school and the teachers and the place itself,' Laitsch said.

'We wouldn't buy a house based on just its price. We would actually go and look at the house.'"

News 1130 (June 18)

"Teachers aren’t the only ones who take issue with the ranking of secondary schools released by the Fraser Institute yesterday ...

He feels the rankings ignore the broader body of elective coursework and student outcomes.

Laitsch doesn’t discount the Fraser Institute’s work entirely, but says whenever you evaluate the quality of research, you should bear in mind who is funding it and any ideological bent they may have.

'We care very much about our children and their future… so it’s not at all surprising that we’re worried about how well the schools are doing. The hard part is that there is no easy answer.'"

Read the entire News 1130 post: http://bit.ly/12brLmD

Burnaby Now (June 19)

"In a Simon Fraser University press release, education professor Daniel Laitsch said the Report Card is an example of advocacy research designed to promote a particular world view.

'The formula used to rank schools inherently favours schools with competitive admissions standards, while penalizing schools working with students achieving at a variety of levels,' Laitsch said. 'It is based entirely on a narrow body of mandatory exams given in specific grades and courses, ignoring the broader body of elective coursework and student outcomes.'"

Read the entire Burnaby Now article here: http://bit.ly/1atvm7g