Canadian think-tank gives HSS failing grade

Last week, the Fraser Institute released its report card on secondary schools in B.C. and Hazelton Secondary received a 1 out of 10.

Last week, the Fraser Institute  released its report card on secondary schools in B.C. and Hazelton Secondary received a 1 out of 10. The grade puts HSS third from the bottom out of all secondary schools in the province.

Peter Cowley, co-author of the report card said a number of factors are used to calculate each school’s overall rating out of 10 including exam results, grade-to-grade transition and graduation rates.

“We began this program 16 years ago and it was intended for just one thing: to provide parents with objective information with regards to how individual schools across the province are doing in academics.

This gives parents information, not only with regards to how the school is doing compared to others this year but also in regards to history. In the case of Hazelton, we see the results go up and down every year but in a pretty narrow range.  The average rating over the last five years is 1.3 with no improvement trend shown.”

Repeated calls to the Coast Mountains School District were not returned by Monday’s press deadline.

According to this report card, in 2013, the average provincial exam mark was 56.8 per cent at HSS. Thirty percent of the students failed it. The graduation rate was up four percent over last year to 84 per cent but still way below the provincial average.

“So what you have with Hazelton based on the work with the kids, the school is performing very close the bottom of the pack of the 293, in fact this year it is ranked 291 and, this is the most important, there is no trend upwards,” Cowley said. “So what do parents do with this information? Parents should be taking the bull by the horns and through their parent council, they should be asking the principal what is the improvement plan to raise the level of skills acquisition and knowledge acquisition among our kids in the school, and when do you think the plan will show some improvements in the rankings and what can we do to help. That is easy to say and probably harder to do, but if the community is willing to allow this way below average performance happen year after year then there is nothing the report card can do. If, on the other hand, parents say we’ve thought about this, our kids can and should do better– that’s when the dialogue between the parents and the principal and teachers can be so important. It’s serious business. It shouldn’t be dismissed as its the Fraser Institute, you can’t trust those people. The data is calculated in the same way for every one of the 293 schools and it offers an important piece of information for parents.”

On the other hand, both of the secondary schools in Smithers did much better than HSS.

The Fraser Institute gave Smithers Secondary School a 6.4/10 which is slightly above the provincial average. SSS had a 99 per cent graduation rate in 2013. The average grade for the provincial exam was 70 per cent with seven per cent of the students failing it.

Bulkley Valley Christian School received an 8.3/10, placing it 24th out of the 293 schools. Every student last year graduated and less than one per cent failed the provincial exam. The average exam mark was 77 per cent. Principal Klaas Kort is happy with the results.

“We are pleased with the results but we realize that the Fraser Institute bases its results on very limited information that really doesn’t tell the whole story. If there are other schools in the area that scored lower, that doesn’t mean they aren’t good schools. Every school has great teachers, and that is true for all the schools in our area and we know them personally. But I do think there are reasons for the success we’ve had, we have small classes so there is individual attention for the students. We also have an excellent learning support program for those students who are struggling. Frankly, we also have a lower percentage of at-risk students, that also probably helped boost our results as well.